I recently attended a group interview to work in a nursery setting, and one of the questions they asked was “Which animal would you be, and why?”
How random, and deeply psychological! How to answer in an intelligent way, which didn’t come across as being too much of a stick in the mud? It was a child care environment after all, but I didn’t want to come across as a drunken Care Bear!
James and Moore (2010:173) describe the animal a person likes as a pet as a “miniature version of their heart”. Cat lovers are proud and haughty, fun but not someone to go to in a time of need. Dog lovers are practical and responsible, due to dogs being even more high maintenance than kids. However, they can be a bit of a control-freak, and also somewhat needy.
Simple, yet possibly devastating to your first impression. The first guy said he wanted to be a pig, because he likes to eat a lot!
No pressure then…
How would this be answered in the world of finance? Here are two real-life examples:
“It depends on the environment. If I was in the ocean I’d like to be a dolphin but if that endangered me because I was surrounded by piranhas then I’d opt for something different. If I was a land animal then I’d probably favour something like a cheetah. But to survive in any environment, including business, you have to either adapt or be well-equipped to survive to start with so my choice of animal to be would depend on which environment I would expect to find myself in.”
Adaptability, without actually answering the question. Nice. The person didn’t get the job.
(After a pause). “A Cat. They seem to manage to get their own way by stealth and coercion rather than by conflict. I try not to work confrontationally, and would rather try and win people round to my way of thinking – much as my cat does.”
Sneaky and avoids confrontation. Not really what I’d look for in a candidate. Didn’t get the job.
Don’t give it too much thought isn’t the same as don’t think about it at all!
Anyway, as it was a group interview, we had little time to think, and even less time to speak. It was more of a “You’ve got 5 seconds, GOGOGO!” kind of thing.
Here are two answers from my group interview in the world of child care:
“I want to be a bird. So I can fly away whenever I want.”
“I want to be a giraffe. (Pause) Because I’m tall.”
Ok, so those were the ones I felt weren’t that great. I think the purpose of the exercise was more of an ice breaker, as well as giving candidates an opportunity to show if they can have fun with kids.
So while Miss “I want to be a Siberian Tiger!!!” brings killer claws and sharp pointy teeth to mind, the way she said it allowed her to speak volumes about her character. She was relaxed, and able to have fun.
So what was my answer?
Well, I expected everyone else to say they wanted to be a dog (which they didn’t, huh, go figure). I wanted to be a wolf! All the good qualities of a dog, much cooler, and yet with that social team-working thing going on, as they work in packs. Ok, they work in packs to hunt and kill prey, but that’s to provide for their little ones isn’t it? And wolf cubs are sort of like puppies. And it’s the way I said it, in a calm yet fun manner!
eFinancialCareers, It Depends [Accessed on 16 July 2010] http://news.efinancialcareers.co.uk/Guest_ITEM/newsItemId-26213
eFinancialCareers, A Cat [Accessed on 16 July 2010] http://news.efinancialcareers.co.uk/News_ITEM/newsItemId-26717
James, J. & Moore, J. (2010), The You Code, Vermillion London.