So, from time to time I’ll find myself watching the news, or YouTube, or a talk show or something, and I’ll come across these weird interviews. Whether it’s a fave musician or actor, or maybe it’s just a reporter talking with some random person on the side of the street… strange questions just seem to emerge. Even when you’re job hunting – maybe especially when you’re job hunting. There you sit with the hip HR Director and Bob from accounting, and the interview is going great, if not a little boring, and then BAM!
‘If you could be a fish in the ocean, what would you be?’
Okay sure, I get that these types of questions are supposed to help the interviewer figure out if you’re creative or analytical or, if we’re being honest here, a straight up freak. I have to say, I do miss the simpler days, when it’d go a little something like, “Hello, how are you, and how and/or why do you think you are qualified for this job?” And then you share your expansive resume and extraordinary successes and boom, you’ve got the job. Or not.
But wait, back to the initial question. What If I actually were a fish in the ocean? I tell you what I’d be. I’d be lost at sea.
Without applying much thought on it, a shark should be at the top of my list. I mean, right? I think the apex predator of the ocean would be a top choice for most. Being at the top of the food chain would eliminate a lot of other problems with being a fish in the ocean. I would only have to worry about getting chomped on by cannibalistic sharks or hooking up with the odd sports fisherman or two (and not in a good way). And I can only imagine that it’s a fantastic answer to give in an interview. But when you get to know me, like I know myself, it’s pretty clear that I just don’t have that kind of all-encompassing aggression, no matter what my ex says.
Is there a fish that has major anxiety issues and constantly worries about, well, everything… while also saying “fuck this shit” to just about every situation? That would be me. On another note, The Incredible Mr. Limpet is one of my favorite movies. If you haven’t seen it, you really should. I could be like Mr. Limpet. Riddled with anxiety, but still comes thru in the end.
Or, I’d get eaten by a shark on my first day as a fish, which is most likely the harsh reality to my current ocean fantasy.
You have to ask yourself this, though, on the other side of the spectrum, as the employer or interviewer, what answers do you expect? Which ones are red flags, and which ones scream “I know this is the one!” Is there a cheat-sheet somewhere to help you figure it out?
For instance, a guy answers with, a sea snail. Cause he just loves to hang around and observe people all day. Maybe not the best answer for landing that new job. Oh sure, he’s lovely to look at (I mean, most sea snails are) but probably not a good fit for the work at hand.
What if the answer was, an octopus? And their reason was so that they could work 8 times more efficiently. Now if I was hiring for a job, I would probably hire the octopus. Just seems more logical, if you ask me.
Maybe you get that one person who doesn’t get the concept behind the question. ‘Fish? Pfftt! I’m more of a horse type, wide-open fields, running free, no-one can control me, I can’t be contained, I’m wild, baby, wild!’ Okay great! Allow me to validate your parking, and you have yourself a fantastic day! Please help yourself to an oatcake on the way out.
Not that I don’t love horses, cause let me tell you, I do. I love them at least 10 times more than fish, if not more. But instead of highlighting your “outside of the box thinking,” one’s failure to answer a question according to the interviewer’s set parameters often implies that you can’t follow simple directions. Even if the question is bizarre and the interview is a joke.
Speaking of an affinity with specific animals. My spirit animal? Truth be told, probably a sloth. Sloths are misunderstood. It’s not that we lack motivation, we just don’t see the urgency placed on us by others’ expectations. We’ll get there, wherever there is, eventually, just leave us the hell alone until then.
Or wait! A Tasmanian Devil (of the Looney Tunes variety) might be more accurate if you’ve ever seen me driving or getting annoyed at the grocery store or dealing with, you know, people.
Ugh… people, am I right?