So “If you were an animal, what would you be?”
What is your key attribute?
This should be your animal: (waiting for answer)
Did you know that the average job offer attracts 250 applicants and only 5 make it to the all-important interview stage?
If you’re lucky enough to secure an interview at your dream company, nailing your interview technique is vital to help you stand out from the crowd and boost your chances of success.
While interviews are often met with trepidation, knowing how to best prepare and equip yourself with a toolkit of techniques will help you walk into that room feeling confident and ready to impress.
The team at Exactimo has first-hand experience of the recruitment process at leading firms and is here to put your mind at ease with expert coaching.
Over the next few months we’ll deliver a series of interview coaching articles to help you hone your approach and tackle some of the most frequently asked questions. While it’s important to prepare for the technical side of an interview, many employers like to go off-piste by asking off-the-wall questions that dive into your personal characteristics. For instance, we’ve also written a detailed article on how to answer the interview question “What Makes You Unique?”
In this article we’ll be discussing how to answer the question: “If you were an animal, which one would you want to be and why?”
Join us as we teach you the ropes and prepare you for the big day.
Answering the question “What Animal Would You Be and Why?”
While it might sound like fun and games, drawing comparisons with your personality and an animal can reveal some deep insights about your fit for a role. This is a commonly asked question that often causes people to stop in their tracks and panic if they’re not sufficiently prepared.
As with any interview scenario, preparation is vital to ensure a polished delivery and reassure the interviewer that you are serious about the role. The last thing you want is awkward silences or ambiguous statements that cast a shadow of doubt over your application.
The best applicants will embrace challenging questions and use them as a tool to present their skillset in the best possible light.
Why Do Companies Ask This Question?
The ultimate purpose of asking ‘what animal would you be’ is to test your ability to assess your own personality and analyse why your characteristics make you a good fit for the role you’re applying to.
While lots of applicants get thrown off course by trying to think of an animal that they think the interviewer wants to hear, the important thing is to capture an authentic portrayal of your true character and offer a justified response.
Let’s take a closer look at some of the main qualities this question can reveal in an applicant…
Self-analysis is an extremely valuable attribute in the workplace. Demonstrating your ability to internalise your thoughts and reflect on your own character is a sign of emotional maturity.
Emotional maturity is vital to create cohesive teams and build mutual respect between co-workers. Reflecting on your character shows that you are aware of your strengths and conscious of your weaknesses — a winning recipe for successful cooperation.
‘What kind of animal would you be?’ is often used as a tool to differentiate applicants from the rest of the pack.
This is a golden opportunity to showcase your creative potential and think outside the box. Interviewers are looking for individuals with a creative spark and interesting answers that set them apart from run-of-the-mill candidates.
Think about how you can put a smile on the interviewer’s face and let your imagination run wild to provide an answer that catches their attention.
One of the main reasons interviewers ask this question is to gauge your understanding of what role you’re applying for and what responsibilities you think are involved in successfully carrying out the position. While it’s relatively straightforward to compare your personal character to that of an animal, the winning answers will go a layer deeper by aligning with the specific requirements of the role.
For example, if you choose to compare yourself to an ant, your reasoning needs to reflect the specific responsibilities of the job.
If you’ll be working within a big team, bring attention to your strong collaboration skills, but if the role demands travelling by yourself to approach big leads, try to prepare an answer that demonstrates the ant’s ability to achieve impressive results, despite its tiny size.
Interviewers often ask these curveball questions as a tactic to throw you off guard and observe how you respond under pressure. Luckily, the very fact that you’re reading this article means you’ll be prepared to answer this question to the best of your ability.
That said, it’s important to prepare a range of responses to avoid a robotic response that doesn’t flow with the natural flow of your conversation. The interviewers may ask the question in a particular context that will make some answers more relevant than others.
Preparing a pool of potential answers and tailoring your response will demonstrate your ability to think on your feet and adapt to high-intensity situations.
Ultimately, this question is designed to reveal how you view yourself as a human being.
While interviews can often get bogged down in the technicalities of the role and feel a tad uncomfortable, many interviewers will ask ‘what animal would you be’ as a conversational queue to lighten the mood and expose your true personality.
Use this question as an opportunity to express your inner self and build rapport with your potential employer. Those who welcome this question with open arms and provide a meaningful answer will demonstrate a genuine engagement with the interview.
So, If You Could Be Any Animal, What Would You Be and Why?
While you have free reign to pick any animal under the sun, we’ve hand-picked a selection of go-to answers that have been known to help applicants nail high-pressure interview scenarios in the past.
Unsurprisingly, the lion is an incredibly popular choice — owing to its reputation as a strong and courageous leader with a responsibility to protect its pack.
A noteworthy characteristic is the lion’s analytical approach to hunting and its tendency to reserve energy in preparation for an incredibly powerful and tactful attack.
The bee is a notoriously hard worker and a loyal comrade to the rest of the hive. Bees have a focused mission to create delicious honey and possess the ability to defend themselves if provoked.
While the monkey has earned itself a reputation as the joker of the animal kingdom, its association with intelligence and agility is something interviewers will find incredibly attractive.
Many technology firms require an agile approach, an innovative mindset and a disruptive desire — all elements that ring true with a cheeky monkey.
The ‘noble steed’ is a versatile animal that can apply itself across multiple disciplines.
Whether it’s carrying people across entire deserts, racing around stadiums or hauling farm machinery, comparing yourself to a horse is a powerful way to demonstrate adaptability and your ability to add value across a range of skill sets.
While the humble ant might not be the most obvious choice, it offers some unique traits that could set you apart from other applicants. Ants are notoriously strong for their size and their excellent cooperation skills mean they can combine their strength to build a united force.
If you’re applying for a role at a disruptive startup that seeks to challenge the status quo, an ant could be a good choice to demonstrate your determination to move mountains.
On the other end of the spectrum, the impressive size and dominance of the elephant is a strong choice if you’re applying for a leadership role. Elephants are thoughtful creatures with a sophisticated memory and enough force to break down barriers.
If you do opt for an elephant, tailor your response to avoid connotations with being cumbersome and heavy — today’s employers want quick thinkers who can change direction and adapt to new environments.
Comparing yourself to a dove can be a winning answer if you’re applying for a role in human resources or people management. Associations with conflict resolution and peacemaking are extremely valuable attributes for someone responsible for mediating internal relationships.
Regardless of the fact that owls are rarely awake to see the light of day, their wisdom and ability to survey from above provide strong comparisons with strategic thinkers who like to approach complex problems with a considered action plan.
Combining strong communication skills, social awareness and team synchronisation is a recipe for success in almost all workplaces.
Comparing yourself to a dolphin is particularly relevant for roles that require a fun and collaborative approach. While a pod of dolphins spend their days surfing the high seas, they’re also effective hunters and excellent social communicators.
Contrary to popular belief, cockroaches possess some valuable characteristics that could help you stand out from the crowd. Namely, they are tenacious survivors who can put up a battle and adapt to challenging environments.
If you do choose to go with a cockroach, be sure to explain your reasoning and avoid any pest-like connotations. Interestingly, despite their reputation as dirty creatures, cockroaches are remarkably fastidious when it comes to personal hygiene!
A butterfly is an extremely interesting choice as it represents growth and personal development. This is particularly relevant if you’re applying to a grad scheme that requires a willingness to learn and nurture your professional career before finding your wings and taking to the air.
We love this comparison as it suggests a candidate holds the potential to grow into an extraordinary butterfly, despite its initial appearance as a somewhat ordinary caterpillar.
Animals to Avoid in Your Answer
While it’s up to you to select your animal of choice, we’ve identified a few answers that you might want to avoid. Rightly or wrongly, certain animals have earned themselves a reputation that doesn’t sit well with your typical employer.
Despite their attractive appearance from the outside, the deadly touch of a jellyfish is a big red flag for employers.
Our eight-legged friends don’t possess many of the attributes employers are looking for. Spinning an invisible web is a manipulative and deceptive act that’s followed by a passive waiting game to catch unsuspecting prey.
Rightly or wrongly, the humble sloth has earned itself a reputation for being slow and lazy. Understandably, this isn’t the kind of image you want to portray.
While a protective shell may appear advantageous, today’s employers want to see proactive thinkers who have the means to take on new challenges rather than curl into a ball and hide.
Associations with dishonesty and deception don’t make for a convincing argument as to why an employer should welcome you into their team.
What’s the Best Animal to Be?
The truth is, the interviewer isn’t looking for the perfect answer or for you to select any animal in particular. The important thing is to explain why you picked your animal and use this as a tool to represent your personality in an authentic light.
Nail Your Next Interview with Exactimo
Exactimo’s Interview Coach is specifically designed to help you develop and memorise powerful answers to frequently asked interview questions.
Whether you’ve already secured an interview or you’re beginning the application process for the first time, learning how to perfect your interview technique will dramatically increase your success at landing a top job.