Getting Past, “So What Do You Do?”


Within the first few minutes of meeting someone for the first time, you’re likely to be asked some version of the question about what it is you do. When you’ve got a job or career, it’s a comfortable question to answer, especially if you enjoy your job. However, when you’re out of work and can’t find a job, that question can be irritating because for many, it’s hard to answer and not feel some embarrassment or even shame. A solid answer and we feel good, a vague answer or stating we’re unemployed and we feel bad. Why? Because either way, we can feel that we’re setting ourselves up to be judged.

The work we do is of course only one aspect of who we are as a person, but it’s the one thing that keeps coming up early in those introductions when first impressions count so much. I suppose it’s asking about something that’s viewed as a social norm and not too invasive. However, if you’ve ever told someone you’re between jobs or out of work and had them quickly walk away and begin a conversation elsewhere, you know that feeling and isn’t a good one. You just know that you’ve been judged and deemed in some way not up to par.

Like I said though, our occupation is only one part of who we are as people. Some of our other pieces include the state of our finances, social life, housing, spiritual, emotional, physical or mental health. There’s our use of personal time, beliefs, personal philosophies, values, leadership styles, the way we interact with the natural world, places we’ve been, accomplishments, hobbies, intelligence IQ, However just imagine your reaction if someone introduced themselves and said, “Hi, I’m Dave. So generally speaking, how healthy is your investment portfolio?”

The curious thing is that people with what society might regard as a prestigious job – say a Family Law Lawyer, Chief Executive Officer, Coroner or even a Teacher, aren’t automatically better people than the rest of us. They have problem marriages, dysfunctional families, stresses, mental health issues and challenges just like you and me. But still we start those conversations with asking about what someone does for a living.

If you listen to people talk about themselves, you can clearly hear them share what they want you to know. If they keep bringing up their job and the work they do, they might be doing so because this is an area they feel comfortable and proud talking about. They believe that this aspect of their life is one you’ll judge them favourably by and walk away with a positive impression of them.

Now when you’re not working but would like to be, talking about your unemployment can have the reverse effect. This isn’t an area where you feel on solid ground in a conversation and your fear of being judged negatively and leaving a poor impression is heightened. We constantly hear how making good first impressions is important, and we know this ice-breaker topic is likely to come up, so consequently some people will avoid social situations completely to limit the number of bad first impressions they’ll make. This ‘feeling bad’ about not having an answer to share with confidence and pride just reinforces our feelings of not fitting in until we’ve found work once again.

There’s some irony however in that the percentage of adults who have at some time in their lives been out of work is quite high. Being laid off from your job is something typically beyond your own control. When a company moves or shrinks its workforce, it’s well beyond your ability to keep your job. Still, when at that social gathering, it would seem weird to say, “Hi, I’m Joan and I was let go 6 month’s ago for reasons beyond my control and I’m now unemployed.”

This is however, part of a great answer if you’re introducing yourself at a job fair for unemployed people looking for work. Imagine what a relief it would be to be in a room surrounded by others out of work, where everyone is in the same predicament. Asking, “What do you do for a living?” would be replaced with, “So what kind of work are you after?” The feeling is more positive – you’re after something – being proactive.

Wait a second…maybe we’re on to something here…

Just imagine you meet someone for the first time and they ask you, “So what do you do for a living?”, and you said, “At the moment I’m pursuing work as a _____. It’s a great fit for me personally and I’ve got the education and experience. If you have any connections or leads I’d appreciate being hearing about them.”

What do you think? Instead of feeling embarrassed or dreading the question because of a weak response, you’ve taken an assertive position. You’ve told them what you’re after and you’ve shifted their thoughts to whom they might know, how they might help you, and all it takes is one person to give you a name that could lead to that next interview that results in a job.

Why, you might even give them your contact information, or ask for theirs and follow-up in a couple of days with a call or an email. Try it once and it’s new and awkward. Twice and it’s easier; often and you’re an assertive networker.

 

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Out Of Work? Get Involved


When I’m running employment workshops, they can last as long as three weeks depending on the particular class. Even then, there’s a week which follows that involves following up 1:1 with each participant, so let’s call them three weeks and a day. One of the great benefits I hear from those participating is that for three weeks, they felt connected to something, and for most, a connection to other adults.

When you think about employment, work does more than just give you a salary in exchange for your labour. Working with others gives you an identity, daily connections with your co-workers, and depending on the organizations culture, it can feel very much like a second family. It’s ironic actually that while most of us never set out to get a job primarily so we can interact with others, it is precisely the loss of this interaction many miss most when they leave a job or retire.

If you’ve got some recently retired friends in your circle, you’ll probably hear them say more than once how they might not miss the job, but they miss the people they worked with. Some who retire miss the contact so much that they take up part-time jobs, why some even go looking for full-time jobs for another year or two. They just weren’t as ready as they thought they were for the severing of these connections.

Now if you’re out of work entirely at the moment and your prospects are not as many as you’d like them to be, you can still find ways to connect to others, and you might need them more than you realize. If you feel isolated and shunning the company of others more than you used to, it could be an indication of some anxiety that’s taken root and starting to grow. Isolating yourself might sound like the logical thing to do – especially if you feel more comfortable at home alone most of the time. However, isolating yourself intentionally can feed that anxiety of being around others, and if left unchecked, it can manifest itself as depression – and I suspect you don’t want to feed your depression.

Now it’s true that it might take some energy to get outside and connect with others again, but it’s worth it. Beyond working, there are a wide number of groups in your community where like-minded people gather to take part and enjoy whatever it is you find stimulating. For you, maybe it’s a woodworking class, a photography night school course, volunteering with the local food bank to help those less fortunate or even meeting up at a mall to join some indoor walking group.

It’s not so much what you do to get connected, but rather that you do something you find enjoyable that gets you connected. The great thing about connecting with others who share a similar interest in something you find enjoyable is that you have something in common to begin the conversations. And no doubt many of you would be wondering otherwise, “What would I talk about? What would I say? Oh it just sounds like a lot of mental effort to talk with people I don’t know.” Of course the longer you’ve been removed from having such conversations, the harder it may seem to start them. And voluntarily putting yourself in the position of talking with other adults may just seem like a lot of work you’d rather not do.

Your reasons for getting involved don’t have to be solely to engage with others. If that alone was your motivation, it wouldn’t matter what you got involved with. No, you could initially decide to get into some activity solely for the benefit of doing something you’d enjoy, and let the dialogue and conversations with others just happen naturally. So yes, maybe you join Friday night mixed curling because the sport is something you enjoy. Not into curling? No problem, maybe you donate your time reading and recording stories with a literacy group for the benefit of those wanting to improve their language skills,

Volunteering by the way is a great way to feel good about yourself and at the same time this investment is something you can and should tag on to your employment resume. It is experience after all, explains what you’re doing while out of work, gives back to your local community, and improves the lives of those who benefit from your works of charity. Selfishly, it also gives you purpose, gives you somewhere to be, you’re counted on again by others to show up just like a job.

Look there’s absolutely nothing wrong with being comfortable in your own skin and enjoying your time alone. This is healthy actually. However, interacting with other people is also healthy and natural. You don’t have to end up with a best friend, not everyone you meet has to hear your whole life story, and you don’t have to hang around after your class, volunteer shift, game etc. is over. What you do afterwards is your call. However, you might find yourself actually enjoying being involved to the point where you didn’t realize you missed it as much as you do.

Now the benefit to your search for employment – if you are in fact still looking for work – is that not only do you have an activity to fill a gap of time, you might even make some connections that lead to a paying job!

Laid Off


The news has come out that 2,600 hourly employees and 300 contract and salaried employees are going to be laid off in 2019 by GM at their Oshawa plant in Durham Region Ontario.

This news isn’t good of course for those people and their immediate families. Nor is it welcomed news for the many businesses that both feed the GM plant with raw materials and supplies, and those who run businesses in the after sales markets. Think too of the impact on coffee trucks, safety shoe companies, clothing retailers, tire manufacturers etc. The ripple effect is going to go far beyond the 2,900 employees referenced as being directly laid off.

However, people are laid off on a daily basis not only in Oshawa, but in communities right around the globe. Just last week I had news of a friend being laid off in the coming year by a large Ontario hospital. You’d think that working for a large organization for 18 years would give a person a sense of security, but that’s just no longer the case.

There’s a lot of sympathy and empathy for those Oshawa GM employees. First of all, the number being laid off is a large one and it’s the finality of the decision; closing the entire plant for good – that’s making this story unique. However, a laid off employee is a laid off employee no matter where they work, no matter how many others are laid off with them. So imagine how a person must feel who is laid off but doesn’t get the press covering their impending departure; who doesn’t get the Province’s Premier announcing his government will do all it can to help out. That is something GM employees are getting that others are not.

Just as it shouldn’t be about who has a worse situation, those laid off by one employer or another, it shouldn’t stand to reason either that one employee gets more help to recover. Losing your income and finding yourself still having to meet your financial commitments is the same no matter which employer is laying you off. Stress, anxiety, fears, uncertainty; these are universally experienced.  When laid off for reasons beyond your control, you go through the same stages as others – shock at the news, anger, bargaining, acceptance and eventually moving on. There’s no timetable dictating how long you’ll spend in any one phase, and you might go back and forth too from one to another.

In the Oshawa GM case, it shocks and stings because this community has largely developed an identity as a community built on the automotive trade. Removing a key contributor in that industry robs the community at large of some of that identity. This happens all over the world where a major employer in a community pulls out and relocates somewhere new or shuts down altogether. Some towns have dried up in the past when this happened and only rusted buildings remain as a testament to what once was.

If there’s a silver lining in this – and I’ll accept that right now not a lot of people want to look for a silver lining – there’s reason to hope. Not hope for a reversal of GM’s decision as this doesn’t seem to be a ploy to get more government bail-outs or interest free loans. No, the positives lie elsewhere – potentially.

First of all, autoworkers have experienced lay-offs in the past. This is something many actually anticipate and to some degree plan for. This is different of course; the entire plant shut down for good. I get that. However, the industry shuts down lines every so often when producing a new vehicle, or having over production and so many won’t be laid off for the first time for reasons beyond their control. This previous experience with being laid off could potentially have instilled in many of those workers some resiliency; the ability to bounce back quicker than those in other industries who have no experience with ever having been laid off.

There’s an opportunity here too for competitors in the industry to bring onboard some of these highly skilled, dedicated and well-trained employees. They’ve got a stellar work attitude, up-to-date experience and they work with attention to detail making quality products. An employer might just look at these people and realize the potential benefit to their own business by holding a job fair or two.

The plant itself sits on some prime real estate in Durham Region. Not many companies need or can manage a facility the size of the GM property, but for those with vision, here’s a functioning, highly efficient and state-of-the-art facility for some other manufacturer to consider taking over. It could come with a well-trained and productive group of people at the ready too.

For some, the news will actually be the push they’ve needed to move on from the employer. It isn’t impossible to imagine that some of those affected might have considered other lines of work as people do in any business do from time-to-time. Perhaps for some, this was their wake-up call. A year of employment left and time to brush up the résumé, look for what’s next, and the real motivation to get serious and figure out some career change. Not all who get laid off have the luxury of a year of employment to do so.

Here’s to hoping those laid off here and elsewhere land on their feet.

Living With Extreme Anxiety?


There’s a difference between feeling anxious and nervous every so often and feeling chronic and severe anxiety all the time. If that’s hard to imagine, it’s like comparing having a bad headache with a migraine; two related but completely different experiences. Those who suffer from migraines wouldn’t wish them on others, and those with chronic and acute anxiety suffer so intensely, they too wouldn’t wish what they experience on those they know.

If you’re fortunate enough not to live with ongoing, acute anxiety, it might be challenging to understand and really empathize with those that do. Situations that seem innocent and safe to you can be paralyzing for the anxiety sufferer to deal with. In the most extreme cases, anxiety can be so intense that a person might live avoiding interactions with others; and I mean all. Things you might take as straight-forward and simple such as withdrawing money from a bank, doing grocery shopping or taking a bus might be incredibly difficult to think about and impossible to actually do.

Now many of us who don’t live with acute anxiety still find some situations stressful. It might be a job interview, attending a family gathering, getting married, the first day on a new job, having to stand up and make a presentation to a large group of people. Perhaps if we recall how we feel in these circumstances we might get a small glimpse into what others experience. The thing is we’d have to magnify the intensity of how we are feeling in those situations and then imagine living like that all the time, day in and day out 24/7. That’s where we probably would admit it’s impossible for us to truly understand this condition.

Through my work as an Employment Counsellor/Coach, I help people as they look for employment. I go about this in part by asking questions and listening to people share their past experiences and finding out what their problems and barriers are. By learning all I can about someone, I can better assist them in finding not just a job, but the best possible fit; looking at much more than their skills alone. I’d like to help them find the right career or job that is a good fit for their personality, their psyche if you will, so it means taking into consideration things like the workplace environment, leadership and management styles a person will perform best under, frequency of interaction with others etc. It’s NOT just about looking at a job posting and seeing if a person has the listed qualifications.

Now if you live with severe anxiety, just like anyone else, you might ask yourself if you want to go on with things the way they are, or would you like a different, (and hopefully) better future. You may have instinctively just thought, “I can’t”. It’s okay; you’re safe and you’re not in any danger just reading on. Things can stay the same even after you’re done reading. So just thinking again for a moment, would you like a future where you make some progress in a safe way?

You may not be ready yet and if so, I understand. Forcing you into situations where your anxiety will be off the charts isn’t going to be helpful. However, for those of you who are willing and able to consider some forward movement, there are some things you can do.

Let me first say that many of the people I help through my work have mental health challenges. Some of these people do in fact have acute, severe anxiety. I want to say right up front that I have tremendous respect just appreciating how difficult it is for them to come and meet with me in the first place. Now my first encounter with many is in a group workshop. That likely sounds terrifying to some readers.

At the start of a workshop, I will mention that should someone have anxiety or feel extreme stress, a good thing would be to let me know as soon as possible. After all, I want the experience to be safe and positive. So what can I do with that knowledge? As the presenter, I can avoid putting such a person in situations that will trigger their anxiety. So I may not ask them to volunteer, avoid asking them to share their feelings or answers with the group, or if I am going around the room asking people to share some answer to a question, always give a person the option to say, “Pass.” This power to opt out of anything threatening alone is a help.

Other small things that help include being able to excuse yourself from the room entirely if an activity seems dangerous or extremely threatening. Get your breathing under control and come back when you’re ready. By creating a safe environment and asking others in the group to show respect and patience with each other, it can be a safe place those with anxiety can attend. It might even take a few attempts before completing a class, but you make the progress you can.

So when you’re ready, (and that’s the key), speak ahead of time with anyone who is running a class or in charge. See what accommodations they can make to keep you safe and included. When you do finish, you’ll have immense satisfaction at having worked through a major hurdle. And as always, you’re worth it!

Nervous About An Upcoming Interview?


First things first; congratulations on the interview! Give yourself credit because you’re up against a lot of other people all competing for employment. So well done!

That credit your giving yourself is important because its external validation that  you’ve done a good job responding to the employer’s needs. Employer’s need people who can be productive and add to the success of the organization, so just getting to the interview is a good sign that they like what they read.

Okay, so you’re nervous. There are two kinds of situations where nerves can have you feeling anxious . The first is where you haven’t prepared at all for the interview. Not only did you not prepare, your plan is to wake up and wing it, counting on your natural ability to charm and think on your feet. If this has worked in the past, it will likely work again. Wrong. Employer’s are better qualified than before, better trained and can size up these candidates quickly. Your nerves will go through the roof as you slowly become more and more exposed as having not invested any time at all in doing some basic homework. You’ll be nervous, and for good reason as you’ve brought this on yourself.

The second kind of nervous is the good kind; yes you read right…there is a good kind! This is nervous excitement! You’ve prepared yourself as best you could, read up on the job posting, their website, you may have talked to some employees and you really want this job. The possibility that you’re soon going to be hired for a job you can do well, doing work you’ll enjoy and in a situation you’ll be successful at is so motivating! So this nervous excitement as the interview draws closer is fantastic.

As someone who loves interviewing, I’d be more worried for you if you felt no nervousness at all – that would be a huge warning sign that you’re running on autopilot and aren’t as invested in the job or company to the extent you should be.

Now, what to do to help you get those nerves under control. First off, breathe… Stress is a physical thing, and a few deep breaths; in through the nose and out through the mouth will help you give your body oxygen when it needs it to relax. Now stand up for a moment. Seriously. Place your hands on your hips and spread your legs, with equal weight on both feet. You’re in the, ‘Superman’ pose. Head up and looking straight ahead, chest slightly out and hold this for two or three minutes. Do this before the interview – say in the washroom or reception area and you’ll feel confidence growing. Odd thing is, it works.

Now, first impressions are important so choose clothing you feel comfortable in that fit the job you’re applying to. Check them a few days before so they are clean, ironed and you’re ready. On the morning of the interview, shower, brush the teeth, do your hair (off the face as a general guideline for women) and give yourself enough time to get where you’re going anticipating delays.

It’s always good to bring multiple copies of your résumé (for you and for them), pre-determined questions you want answered, paper and pen for notes, the job posting and your references to offer at the end. Depending on the job, you might want any certificates or proof of licences and education requirements too.

Smile at the first meeting, offer a firm handshake and look the interviewer(s) in the eye as you do so. When you walk, don’t amble or shuffle along, walk with purpose and be aware of slouching shoulders.

As for answering questions, use the STAR format. Well, I endorse it at any rate. Essentially you answer by sketching out SITUATIONS you found yourself in so the get a framework for your answer, present the TASK or problem to overcome, move to the ACTION you took in rising to the challenge and finish with a positive RESULT that came about because of what you did.

This format is neat, tidy and concise. It will help you PROVE you’ve done what you claim you can do. I can’t stress enough how specific examples you give are essential to a successful interview. Without specific examples in your answers, you’re hoping they’ll believe you’ve got the experience and skills you state you do, and you’ll come up short.

The tone of your voice is important too. Nervous people often talk quicker and their voices are slightly higher. Slow your words down, pause every so often to emphasize certain things you believe are critical, and your voice suddenly gets more interesting, more meaning is attached to your words and the overall impact is a more attentive audience.

As the interview wraps up, ask for their business card. All the information you need to follow-up with a thank you note or phone call is on that card. Do send a card of thanks! Many don’t bother these days and that’s even more reason to do it. You stand out and that’s what you’re hoping to do.

The most important thing you can do is leave a lasting positive impression. Why hire you? What makes you the right fit? Answer this now, before you get to the interview. It’s not about what you want, but how hiring you is in the company’s best interests.

Doubt Yourself? This Is A Strength!


Do you doubt your abilities or skills in your workplace? Do you wonder if you’re as effective or as productive as you should be? Good! You my friend have just identified a strength.

I bet that comes as ironic because perhaps seen your lack of confidence as a weakness. I mean after all, how can self-doubt be good? Well, read on and see if what I’ve got to say doesn’t make you change your point of view.

Think of doubt as your instincts kicking in when you’ve got a decision to make. Should I choose one thing over another, or even when presented with several options and having to make the best choice. Some people confidently make a choice and stick by their decision, sure in their ability to make the correct one. You however, are less sure, so you pause, hesitating while you think and weigh the pros and cons of the choices before you and even as you make your choice, an inner voice is crying out, “Wait! Not all the information has been processed yet and we might be wrong!”

Now if the top prize always goes to the person who makes the quickest decision, sure the confident person might win more than they lose. However, even the most confident person will tell you that their confident decisions turn out to be incorrect every so often.

Self-doubt is a good thing if it causes us to check on the information we already have or gather more information when necessary to make the best choices. So if you teach or instruct, you may doubt your ability to communicate a topic to your audience; to get through to the extent you’d like. The ideal thing to do is to check with those you’re teaching; essentially determining if you’re being as effective as you’d like or as your employer expects. Checking with your audience might be done verbally as in asking for them to paraphrase what they’ve learned, or it could be in the form of a test. Have you ever considered that tests don’t only show what someone has learned but also show the ability of the teacher to instruct?  It’s true!

Self-doubt can also benefit you if you are feeling pressured into doing something that goes against your moral compass. Ever had one of those moments when you were dared to do something that you just felt was wrong? You wanted perhaps to impress someone or a group, but to do so meant hurting someone intentionally? You doubted your ability to actually do it though and said something like, “I don’t know if I can do this. It just seems wrong.” That was self-doubt kicking in and it was a good thing back then and it’s still a good thing today.

Now while self-doubt is a good thing; a strength, in its extreme, it can be a negative. When self-doubt has you completely paralyzed, unable to go ahead and make any choice at all, that frozen state of inaction that robs you of your ability to choose is not a good thing.

If you know you have to compile a report for your boss by a certain date and you’re completely at doubt about if you can do it, it will definitely be an issue if the day comes and you haven’t even started. However, I don’t think that’s just self-doubt kicking in, that’s also the fear of asking for help until you gain the confidence to do similar reports on your own in the future. Not everybody learns at the same pace, and you might need more help before mastering the skills needed to compile reports on your own.

Of course self-doubt takes energy. Many who doubt themselves wish they had more self-confidence, especially when it comes to big choices and big decisions. I have to say though, at the root of this self-doubt there’s often an explanation for this present behaviour in the past. Many who continually doubt themselves had little praise, support and encouragement from people in influential positions while growing up – parents, teachers, employers and yes former/present partners.

An abusive partner who constantly looks for every opportunity to be critical and demeaning, can unfortunately cause a lot of damage in a person. If you were told all the time, “This coffee tastes like crap!” you’d start to doubt your ability to make a good one. This lack of confidence and heightened self-doubt is a cruel result of bullying and abuse. In fact, if you as a co-worker or boss find you’ve got an employee who seems plagued with self-doubt, you could help them immensely with some encouragement to make choices and not come down hard on them when they make a choice you’d rather they didn’t. Words of encouragement will do more to achieve the desired result than any words said in anger and frustration. In fact, just by being such a person’s boss, your title alone is something they’ll feel intimidated by.

Good advice? Start with small decisions; those with small consequences. If you can, look for work that might have less responsibility for decision-making; at least until your self-doubt gradually subsides. Increasing your confidence is also something you might share with others, so you receive encouragement more often. Remember self-doubt is a strength and can often have you re-evaluate your thinking and come up with a better result.

All the best out there today and every day!

Anyone Getting Asked What Animal They’d Be?


“If you were an animal, which one would you be and why?”

Even though I know the purpose behind this question, I cringe every time I hear it. For starters, it’s old, tired and used so often as an example of a bizarre question that I wonder if anyone out there actually asks it any more. If you’ve been on the receiving end of this question recently, I’d love to hear from you in the comments section.

Okay, so the point of the question; I mean, what purpose does it serve? Fair enough. That’s a good starting place for any potential question coming your way – know what’s behind the question; the purpose it serves. This type of question was often included in an interview to see how a candidate thinks on their feet when given something unexpected.

These days many people prepare for their upcoming interviews by enlisting the help of a Job Coach, Employment Counsellor, Career Counsellor etc. These people typically help by readying the applicant to succeed by having mock interviews. They anticipate questions that employer’s may ask, then coach their clients on how best to go about answering those same questions.

As an employer, it makes sense that in evaluating the applicants they interview, they want to see a person think and respond as themselves, not someone who is just regurgitating what they’ve memorized or been told what to say. To safeguard against this possibility, they may throw in the odd question that no one could reasonably be expected to ask. For decades now, some interviews have used the animal question or some version of it such as, “What fruit would you be?”, “What colour would you be?” or “What superhero would you be?” and of course “Why?”

Some think it is imperative to choose an animal that has qualities that relate to the job being applied to. A commissioned Salesperson choosing an aggressive animal, someone being expected to make a long-term commitment choosing a dog because of its loyalty etc. As for colour, fruit, superhero etc., it’s the same idea – pick one that you can relate to the desired qualities of the job you are applying to.

Me? I’ve found very few employer’s are using these as much anymore. Their questions are limited by the time set aside for interviews, and the information they need is better obtained asking directly relevant questions.

When I’m conducting mock interviews with those I serve, the closest I come to this is my last question which is simply, “Impress me.” I find it serves the purpose of being unexpected and as I observe their reaction I can see it has the desired impact of having them pause to think. It then gives them the latitude to tell me whatever they feel would best sway my opinion of them in their favour. Think of it like being asked what your greatest accomplishment has been, what you’re proud of, what I would truly find remarkable or something to note about you as we draw this interview to a close. In other words, it’s a chance to make a last impression on me the interviewer. And yes, relate it in your own way to the job you’re applying for now.

The animal question specifically though? I cringe. The way to answer this is easy. Answer quickly instead of stalling for time and stay away from anything questionable such as a weasel, snake or rat. Even if you like these personally, stereotypes don’t endear them to a lot of interviewers. Or be contrary and provocative if you wish and take your chances.

The thing about this question is its comparatively weak and has questionable benefit to anyone contemplating whom to hire. If you nail all the other 8 questions asked and bomb the animal question, you’ll likely still impress. Conversely, answer the animal question well but fail to impress when asked the more relevant questions and all you’ve got is the knowledge of what you’ll choose to be if/when you get asked to choose your next life form. How likely is that to happen?

There are all kinds of versions of the bizarre, unexpected question. “If you were a brick on the wall, which would you be and why?” is another. These also get asked if the interview suspects your answers sound too rehearsed, too practiced, anticipated and the answers simply robotic. So yes, they serve a purpose beyond just playing head games with poor unfortunate interviewees. Most interviewers respect their own time – and yours by the way – far too much to add unnecessary questions.

So I wonder, as an applicant in an interview, when was the last time you got asked such a weird question? Could be this question and others like it are out-dated and not worthy of being delved into much anymore, or perhaps they are confined to certain types of jobs.

Do they ask potential Brokers and Financiers what currency they’d choose to be and why? Has Richard Branson ever been asked to choose between being a Snail or an Aardvark and explain his rationale for making such a choice? I doubt it.

I ponder if Donald was ever asked, “If you could be a playing card, which one would you be and why?” Maybe he answered belligerently that he’d be a Jack of course because they are the ‘trump’ card? Ooh, a groaner!