Before an interview, you’ve likely prepared for run-of-the-mill questions about your experience and career path. What you might not have prepared for, however, are off-the-wall questions that seemingly have nothing to do with the job. One of those questions being, “If you were an animal, which one would you be and why?”
Learn why interviewers ask this unusual question and how to answer it in a way that shows your creativity and reinforces your fit for the role.
Why do interviewers ask which animal you would be?
If it seems like a totally random question, that’s part of the point.
Seasoned interviewers know it’s easy for candidates to rehearse answers to standard interview questions like “Why did you apply for the job?” which doesn’t give them an accurate assessment of your ability to think on your feet. While it’s great to prepare some answers ahead of time, interviewers want to see how you’ll respond to a question you likely haven’t prepared for, which can give them a clue about your ability to react under pressure.
Your answer demonstrates your creative thinking, so this question (and others like it) may be more likely to appear for roles that require you to think outside the box.
Sometimes, companies intentionally ask quirky interview questions because they’re trying to make a statement about their company culture–that they value originality, for example, or that they’re different from other employers. While there are other effective ways to convey culture in an interview, employers sometimes choose to go this route, so it’s important to come prepared.
What interviewers are looking for
How you respond to this interview question can tell a hiring manager a lot about you. Can you have fun with your answer, or does the unconventional question fluster you?
Interviewers are looking for candidates who can take unexpected situations in stride, and how you react to an unusual question can shed light on this characteristic.
While conventional interview questions are useful for learning more about your skills and career aspirations, they don’t tell a hiring manager much about your personality. Asking which animal you’d be, gives them a chance to see a side of you that’s more creative, witty, thoughtful, or clever than you might get to be when answering a more routine line of questioning.
How to answer, “If you were an animal, which would you be and why?”
Think about it ahead of time
One of the interviewer’s objectives might be to catch you off guard, and you don’t want your answer to come across as scripted, but you’ll be at an advantage if you’ve at least given it some thought beforehand. So, spend some time ahead of your interview strategizing for this and other unusual interview questions.
Connect it to the job
When choosing an animal to name, consider its defining characteristics. This could be like a cheetah’s speed or an elephant’s memory skills. Choose an animal with a skill that you share and that’s also a positive asset to the role.
How not to answer
Name a random animal
Don’t name an animal simply because you really like them or based on an arbitrary characteristic, like choosing a bird because you think it would be cool to experience flying. This is a missed opportunity to promote your job-related skills.
Sample answers to “If you were an animal, which would you be and why?”
Try to identify traits that an interviewer will respond positively to, and don’t be afraid to let your personality show by choosing an animal that’s actually similar to you. Above all else, have fun with it, and don’t take your answer too seriously. A question like this is more about how you respond than naming the “right” animal.