Killer Interview Question: What Kind Of Tree Would You Be?

Killer Interview Question: What Kind Of Tree Would You Be?

Would you be an Eucalyptus tree? How about a Bottlebrush tree? Maybe you’re more of a Jacaranda tree. We want to find out on this week’s KIQ.

We’ve had quite a few whacky interview questions featured on KIQ, but this one still managed to raise a few eyebrows in the office: “If you were a tree, what kind of tree would you be?”

According to a submission on job interview website Glassdoor, this question was asked by networking vendor Cisco for the role of senior technical writer.

Career coach Peggy McKree at Career Confidential said this question is akin to “What animal would you be?” or “What kind of fruit would you be?” and is used to check a candidate’s creativity. It is also used to gauge an applicant’s ability to think on their feet.

The interviewer doesn’t want to hear that you want to be an apple tree solely because you like apples. Here’s what McKree had to say:

“To answer this question (or any kind of question where you have to choose ‘what would you be?’, think in a broad way about the qualities of whatever it is that you’re going to pick and how you would explain your choice. What character or personality traits would be useful for someone in that role to have? Think in terms of the utilitarian productiveness of your choice as it relates to the job you’re applying for. What does that job require? And then be careful of the nuances.”

For example, you may want to go for an Eucalyptus tree because it grows fast and is extremely hardy.

How would you answer this question? Let us know in the comments.

[Career Confidential]


  • I hate these kind of stupid questions, they’re subjective and highly inaccurate. My response, “Having never studied the characteristics of trees, I find it difficult to answer this question in those terms; instead I’ll tell you about my values”. . .

  • Isn’t that just a trick question to check if you’re not secretly a ganja smoking hippie?

  • I completely agree with bdekok.

    It’s a stupid question that should be laughed out of the park.

    Maybe one of the ‘softer’ fields it might apply but in a field like engineering it would be a red flag to me if I was applying for a position.

  • If I got asked this question I would respond with “I’d prefer not to be a tree at all”, either that or make some reference to the Third Life of the Pequeninos in Speaker for the Dead. In any case, just like bdekok and zutri, it would send up a red flag for me about the employer.

  • Never have I had any of these stupid questions, as a job interviewer, headhunter, or an interviewee. Unless I was unemployed and desperate, no even then, I think I would not stay for the rest of the interview. It is very lazy not to make the question appropriate and job relevant.

  • Interviewers who ask stupid questions when hiring tend to be stupid bosses, so be prepared for lots of headaches if you get hired

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