When you attend an interview, you can expect to be asked about your previous experience and skills, as well as your educational history. However, you may also find that you are asked some more unusual questions, which can feel stressful if you are not sure how to answer. These questions are becoming more popular, because they can be useful to identify candidates with more to offer, and can help the best applicants to stand out from the crowd.
‘What kind of animal would you be?’ may seem like an irrelevant question to be asked at interview, but it can give you a chance to demonstrate your analytical thinking and show what an asset you would be to the company you are interviewing for. Here, we explain how to turn a question like this around and use it to show your interviewer what you have to offer, as well as demonstrating that you can think outside the box.
Making a question like this work for you is all about preparation. This doesn’t mean you have to rehearse a word perfect answer, but you are much more likely to wow your interviewer if you have given some thought to the more unusual questions and to the impression you would like to make. Here’s our quick guide:
Whatever the position you are applying for, there are some answers that will work for this question and some that will not. We have identified some animals that have positive qualities you can build upon in your response, and you can use these to develop answers that are suited to your personality, skillset and the role for which you are interviewing.
Great animals to choose:
Fox – The fox is a wily creature, clever and strategic, but with a hint of dishonesty. This could be a good choice, but be careful to explain it thoroughly.
Tiger – Tigers are a popular choice, demonstrating intelligence and quick thinking. Tigers show great independence of thought, and may not be the ideal choice if you want to show that you are a team player.
Lion – The lion is a great example of strong leadership, showing determination and a dedication to the pack. Try to avoid associations with the way in which lions take long naps – you don’t want to appear lazy in an interview!
Monkey – Monkeys are intelligent and nimble, working well as part of a team and taking an innovative approach to problem solving. This might be useful in positions that rely on good teamwork skills and require you to think outside the box.
Elephant – An elephant is a strong example of a good leader, committed to the group with a thoughtful presence. Elephants may be seen as unstoppable, and certainly have a great memory, but you may wish to point out that you are more agile and flexible than an elephant!
Ant – An ant may seem like a strange choice of animal to represent yourself, but it may be an astute answer. Ants are hard workers, committed to working as a team, and often achieve very impressive results despite their tiny size.
Cockroach – You may not wish to associate yourself with a cockroach, but these are superb survivors, who are very adaptable and resourceful. You will need to explain your choice in detail, however, as this answer may raise some eyebrows!
Dolphin – Dolphins are very intelligent, excellent communicators and real team players, and these are all qualities that will be desirable in many roles. Dolphins are a popular choice with interviewers and applicants alike, and you can adapt this choice to be specific to the role you are applying for.
Butterfly – A butterfly is an interesting choice, always progressing through stages of development, waiting for the right day to fly. This is a choice filled with plenty of potential, and you can bring in some discussion of being an individual waiting to blossom.
Gorilla – A gorilla is a strong choice, gentle but powerful, and a good parent and leader. This choice shows great strength of mind and an independent approach.
Chameleon – A chameleon may be interpreted in many ways, since it blends in well and does not draw attention to itself. This could be seen as clever, but may also appear to be sneaky, so think this through carefully as you give your reasons.
Owl – Owls are seen as being very wise, and are good at seeing the bigger picture. A good applicant would draw associations with strategic planning and precise performance for great results.
Dove – The dove is a peacemaker, always looking for the non violent solution, and this could be a very good animal to identify with if you are seeking a role in HR or personnel management.
Snake – The snake does not have great associations, being traditionally seen as sneaky and dishonest. Most people avoid this connection by choosing a different animal.
Whale – Whales may be seen as majestic and impressive, but also carry connotations of being cumbersome and ungainly, so you may wish to avoid the comparison.
Sloth – Whether it is deserved or not, the sloth has a reputation for being lazy and slow, and these are not qualities you wish to advertise in yourself.
Turtle – Turtles may be seen as too laid back, unable to strike fast even when necessary.
Jellyfish – Not the ideal choice for most roles, the jellyfish is seen to be beautiful to look at but deadly to touch, suggesting you should be handled with extreme caution!
Fox – Clever, but with a hint of dishonesty
Tiger – Intelligent, street smart
Lion – Bossy and lazy, but an incredible fighter, puts themselves above all others, likes asserting authority
Elephant – Leader, unstoppable, great memory
Monkey – Intelligent, nimble
Ant – Hard worker
Cockroach – usually an unwelcomed visitor, however, a superb survivor very adaptable and resourceful
Dolphin – Very Intelligent, everybody loves dolphins
Butterfly – Always in one stage or another of development, waiting for your day to fly
Gorilla – Gentle, but not one to be riled, vegetarian, good parent, provoke at your own peril
Chameleon – Blends in well, not one to stand out, very sneaky
Owl – Very wise, very good at seeing the big picture, very good at getting what it wants
Jellyfish – Beautiful to look at but deadly to touch, handle with extreme caution or pay a heavy price
Dove – A peacemaker, always looking for the non violent solution
Generally bad animals, the ones you may want to avoid (at least for this question) include:
Snake – Sneaky and dishonest
Whale – Bloated
Sloth – Lazy
Turtle – Too laid back, unable to strike fast even when necessary
Joe Robbins is co-founder of CareerWise Recruitment. A graduate of the University of Limerick (Degree in Business Studies, 1985), Joe worked in the UK for five years where he specialised in materials management, production management and plant management for a number of companies.
He returned to Ireland in 1992 to become Operations Manager for a Cork-based start-up, FMC Automotive Division which was subsequently taken over by Snap-on Equipment. Joe managed the business re-location of this company to Shannon in 1997 before setting up CareerWise Recruitment in 1999.
He is a committee member of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) Mid-West region, and a former Director and Vice President of the Shannon Chamber of Commerce. Joe is former Chairperson of the Sixmilebridge Camogie Club and current Chairperson of the Clare County Camogie Board.
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