Killer Interview Question: What Is Your Spirit Animal?

Killer Interview Question: What Is Your Spirit Animal?
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Not all interview questions need to be super serious — in past KIQs we’ve looked at dealing with time bombs, surviving the zombie apocalypse and the best way to unload a jumbo jet full of jellybeans. Here’s a question in a similarly fun vein from HootSuite CEO Ryan Holmes.

Wolf picture from Shutterstock

In pagan religion, a “spirit animal” was a fauna-based totem that was meant to represent the traits and skills of a particular person or tribe. It can also help to break the ice during job interviews (while also telling you a little about the prospective employee in the process.)

Ryan Holmes, founder of social media management system Hootsuite, asked his current executive assistant to name her spirit animal as part of her job interview. As Holmes explains, she went with an unconventional choice:

She told me it was a duck, because ducks are calm on the surface and hustling like crazy getting things done under the surface. I think this was an amazing response and a perfect description for the role of an EA. For the record, she’s been working with us for over a year now and is amazing at her job.

Not everybody will provide an insightful answer — expect to meet plenty of eagles and wolves, for example — but at the very least, it should help to put the person in the hot seat at ease and set a relaxed tone for the remainder of the interview. (Incidentally, we totally want to hear what your own spirit animal is in the comments.)

[Via Business Insider]


  • Batman is my spirit animal because I, too, want to be a playboy billionaire by day and masked vigilante by night. Plus he has cool toys.

  • A lion. I get to sleep most of the day, eat (very) rare steak all the time, root when I want and if somebody harms me then the whole internet jumps to my defence.

  • Spirit animal? Really? Gosh. I think if I were asked that I’d seriously consider working somewhere else.

    But OK. My spirit animal is… umm… a yao guai.

    • Make it a Dodo. So you don’t have to live in a world where you get asked about what your spirit animal is.

  • “My spiritual animal”? What sort of organization is this? How quick can I get out of here?

  • I had this question once at some nonsense session with our incompetent HR person. My prompt answer of “polar bear” flummoxed her because her book only covered eagles and wolves, and then we argued over my comment that Ursus Maritimus is the largest land predator. Ah, good times in the corporate world…

  • “Before I answer that question, can you provide me with some peer-reviewed, quantitative evidence, published in a high impact journal, that shows that this question will predict my future job performance with a high degree of accuracy? Otherwise I will just have to assume that I will be working for a company whose hiring strategies could be best described as a series of quizzes like the ones my mother shares on Facebook.”

  • dawgax @dawgax opined…

    “Make it a Dodo. So you don’t have to live in a world where you get asked about what your spirit animal is.”

    Or more importantly, would have mercifully prevented your contribution from appearing.

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