The 5-person panel interview at the Department of Revenue was going ‘excellent’ and ‘alright’ simultaneously. Everyone flipped between either word for every answer. Jane was having trouble reading the expressions of the two potential teammates, hiring manager, and two customers when she heard the strangest interview question of her career: “If my team were a farm, what barnyard animal would you be, and why?” She’d brushed up on any applicable modern technology, but nothing agricultural.
Jane briefly zoned out and stared at the floor.
The harsh static white lines burned onto the gray carpet were a sharp contrast to the cartoonish reception area downstairs. What a weird question. She could barely even remember any barnyard animals at all. ‘Umm… there are dogs on farms. Sammohini’s sister has a dog. What a little sweetie. What else do they have…?’
One of the panelists cracked up at the question.
She looked up and smiled at the person that was still laughing. It was the hiring manager, Marissa, with whom she shared a pleasant conversation about dogs on the elevator ride up to the floor and conference room they were in now. “Dog. I’d be a dog. My friend’s family has a farm and one of their dogs, Pollyanna, is the sweetest.”
Marissa’s face brightened up.
“OK, tell us a little bit more about your answer.” “Sure. So Pollyanna is a service dog for my friend Sammohini’s sister. She doesn’t really do farm duties, I guess so it might not be the best example, but I always really liked how, well, I guess loyal she is to everyone on the farm. So I’d be like that, I guess. Loyal. Helping out as needed.”
A potential teammate, Harper, jumped in.
“That’s not really a barnyard animal, though, is it?” “Well, not that specific one, but they do have other dogs that do barnyard activities. I think that counts well enough.” “Alright, fair enough.” “Harper does raise a good point, so if my team were full of dogs, how would you display loyalty and provide good service to our customers?”
She sat up in the chair to correct her posture.
“Taking a cue from Pollyanna there, I’d- I’m always poised and ready to serve. Anytime there’d be rustlings of a need for it, I’d be there to help out. Not that I’d drop what I’d do at any minor distraction. More that if someone stopped by my desk, I’d be able to get them sorted out either straight away or in a good- well-scheduled time.”
One of the customers asked: “Heh, I need help all the time!”
“Oh, that’d be fine. I do prefer a quick head’s up via email or instant message if I’m gonna need to be called away from my desk for too long, just because I could be working on something more impo- I mean… high prior- I mean-” “No, I get what you mean, Jane! I like being polite when I need to kidnap people!”
“Oh, that’s good to hear!”
|Sources: I heard this interview question from a friend of mine.
Inspirations: Jamming on the interview question and how interviews can innocently dissolve.
Photo: The carpet of a recent networking event.