If you’ve been to a lot of interviews, you’re probably used to hearing some of the same questions over and over again. Every once in a while though you may encounter a question you’ve never been asked in an interview before. One question that tends to throw people off in an interview is “If you were an animal, what would you be?” Hearing that question may surprise you, but it’s actually more common than you think.
Much like any interview question, you’ll be better off if you have the chance to think about your answer beforehand. Especially with a question like this one, there’s no one right or wrong answer, but how you answer can tell the employer a lot about who you are as a person. It’s okay to give a unique answer and think outside the box, but you want to make sure your answer is thoughtful and relevant to the job as well.
If this question seems a bit random, that’s probably because it often is. Interviewers will usually ask you a question such as this one to throw you off a bit. No matter what job you’re interviewing for, there will likely be times in the position when you’ll have to think on your feet. This question gives the interviewer a small glimpse at whether you’re able to think quickly or not, and how eloquent you are under pressure.
Here are some dos and don’ts for answering the question “if you were an animal what would you be?” in an interview.
Dos and Don’ts
- Do think about the type of job you’re interviewing for before you answer.
- Be prepared to tell the interviewer why you chose that animal.
- Be creative and think outside the box, but be sure you make a connection between the animal and the job position.
- Don’t focus on why you love the animal so much.
- Do focus on the characteristics of the animal and how they relate to the job.
- Name one or two traits the animal has that also relate to you.
- Keep your answer simple.
- Don’t focus on the negative characteristics of the animal.
- Don’t choose an animal that will give the interviewer a bad impression of you. (Like a sloth, for example.)
- Don’t avoid the question or answer by saying you wouldn’t want to be any animal.
Best Answers to “If You Were an Animal What Would You Be?”
1. “I would be a dog because I love being around other people. Much like a dog, I’m happiest when I get to engage with groups and I enjoy supporting those around me.”
Although a dog may be one of the most common answers to this question, it can be a relevant answer for almost all job positions, and it’s a great one to fall back on if you can’t think of a more unique animal in the moment. Most people think of dogs as man’s best friend, so if you’re able to make a connection between a dog and the qualities needed for the job, then you can’t go wrong with this answer.
2. “I would be a dolphin because I love communicating with others and working as a team.”
Dolphins are extremely intelligent animals, and they play well with others. A dolphin is also a popular answer to this question, and it works especially well when interviewing for a position that will require a lot of teamwork. It may not be the best answer if you’re applying for a leadership role.
3. “I would be an elephant because they’re strong, and great leaders. Elephants usually stay in small groups, but they’re extremely loyal to those around them.”
An elephant may not seem like the most graceful creature, but they certainly have a lot of good qualities. When you focus on the positive traits of an animal, it’s easy to relate it to the job you’re interviewing for. An elephant is a great answer because they’re known for their strength, but they’re also peaceful animals.
4. “A horse is the type of animal I would be because I’m focused, and able to work independently or in a group.”
Horses are very graceful creatures, and choosing a horse as your animal is a great way to show you’re a hard worker. Horses can work well on their own, or in a group, so if you’re interviewing for a role that requires some independent work, this answer is a great way to show that you’re flexible and capable of getting your work done in different environments.
5. “If I were an animal, I would be an octopus because I’m creative and innovative. I’m similar to an octopus because my intelligence is one of my strengths.”
The octopus is extremely intelligent and it’s a great choice if your intelligence is what you are known for. This answer is helpful in a role where innovation and a focus on details is required. For example, if you’re applying to be a software developer, choosing an octopus will make you seem like a great fit for the position.
6. “I would be a giraffe because I pay attention to what’s ahead and I’m extremely gentle.”
Giraffes are known for being able to see things that are far off in the distance, and even if you aren’t that tall, the characteristics of a giraffe can represent the foresight you have. They are also known for being gentle creatures, which is a great way to represent yourself in a role that doesn’t require you to be very forward. For example, a giraffe wouldn’t be a helpful answer if you were applying to be a car salesman.
7. “If I could be any animal, I would be a monkey because monkeys are intelligent and great problem-solvers.”
A monkey may seem like a strange animal to compare yourself to, but they have a lot of characteristics that would suit someone applying for a role that requires teamwork and innovation. The monkey is an example of an animal where it’s important to focus on the positive characteristics, instead of mentioning the negative ones.
8. “I would be a beaver because I’m an extremely hard-worker, and I’m always dedicated to doing the job right.”
Beavers are hard-working animals, and although it doesn’t have to be a construction job you’re applying for to use beaver as your answer, beavers do work hard year-round at constructing their dams. The beaver is a great example for anyone who wants to show that they’re dedicated to their craft and won’t give up when things get tough.
9. “If I were an animal I would be a mouse because I’m resourceful and I adapt well in any situation.”
Mice are resourceful animals that can be found almost anywhere. Most people might think of mice as unwelcome visitors, especially if you’ve found one in your home, but if you think of how well mice adapt to their surroundings, they’re a great choice if you’re interviewing for a job where you need to be adaptable.
10. “I would be an elk because I’m quick to scope out the competition and I’m loyal to my team.”
The elk is not a common answer, but it can work well for someone applying to a sales position or something similar. Elks are keenly aware of their surroundings, especially if there’s a threat nearby. When you’re in sales, paying attention to the competition is part of your job, but you also have to be loyal to the brand you’re selling and to your team.
11. “If I were an animal, I would be an eagle because of the strength, agility, and leadership qualities the eagle has. I pay close attention to everything around me, and I am patient when waiting for an opportunity.”
An eagle is a pretty bold answer to this question, and although it can be a great answer if you’re interviewing for an executive position, you shouldn’t choose an eagle if you’re expected to be a part of a team. When interviewing for a leadership position, it’s important to show that you can work independently and make decisions without consulting anyone else, because being the boss can often feel that way. However, if you’re not applying to a leadership position, comparing yourself to an eagle can make it seem like you’re not a team player.
If you’re ever asked the question “If you were an animal what would you be?” in an interview, you now have plenty of animals to choose from. Remember that there isn’t a right or wrong answer to this question, and the way you sell the animal you choose is more important than the animal itself.
All animals have both positive and negative characteristics, so be sure to focus on the positive ones. Try to avoid choosing an animal that already has a negative connotation, such as a sloth, or a snake. It’s okay to have fun with your answer, as long as you choose an animal that will represent you well.
Keith Miller has over 25 years of experience as a CEO and serial entrepreneur. As an entrepreneur, he has founded several multi-million dollar companies. As a writer, Keith's work has been mentioned in CIO Magazine, Workable, BizTech, and The Charlotte Observer. If you have any questions about the content of this blog post, then please send our content editing team a message here.