Difficult Interview Questions: If you were an animal, which animal would you be?

There are a number of variations of this question (eg ‘what sort of biscuit would you be?’; ‘which household object best symbolises you?’).

Ask yourself ‘What are they trying to find out?’ It is usually to discover how you see yourself – and how you view your key strengths, weaknesses and/or personal qualities. They are also testing your ability to remain calm under pressure, and think on your feet. The interviewer may want to challenge you, or test your creativity and sense of humour

Because these sorts of questions can be virtually anything, they are hard to prepare for. The key is making sure that you stay calm, focussed and that you don’t get flustered. Take a moment to think about your response. A short silence is better than blurting out the first thing that comes to your head. Just be yourself and give an honest reply. If you really cannot think of anything to say, ask if you can come back to that question later. You may lose a few thinking-on-your-feet points, but you’ll gain points for handling a difficult situation professionally. Remember that there is rarely a wrong answer to this type of question.

As always with difficult questions, try and make your answers relate to the competencies (skills & behaviours) that the interviewer is looking for. So your answer to the ‘animal’ question could be something like, ‘I would be an octopus because the eight tentacles would fit in with my ability to handle lots of tasks at once.’

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