Job Interview Question

If you were a tree, what kind of a tree would you be?

How To Answer Interview Questions Series

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 This is definitely a wacky question.  Sometimes you get the same type of question as: “What animal would you be?” or even “What fruit would you be?”  You might think it’s ridiculous, but you still have to play along, or you’ll upset the interviewer.

They’re asking because they want to see what you’ll do if they throw you off stride by asking a question out of left field like this, or maybe they want an insight into your personality.  This type of question checks your creativity, your ability to think on your feet, and just might reveal what you really think about yourself.  (They hope.)

What they DON’T want to hear is, “I would be an apple tree because I like apples.”  That doesn’t tell them anything useful, and it really doesn’t have anything to do with the interview or the job.

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.

The Oak In SpringFor instance, if you were answering the animal question:  To you, a cat might seem independent, but one manager told me that to her, they seem lazy.  An eagle is always a safe choice for someone who wants to be seen as a leader.  Horses are strong, smart and useful.  Just don’t pick something like an earthworm or a vulture.

If you’re answering the tree question, think about how fruit trees are productive, oak trees are strong and reliable, but cottonwood trees spread trash that everyone hates.  I wouldn’t choose a Weeping willow, because that just seems sad.  Sugar maples are productive, too (syrup).  Evergreen trees are steady.   Palm trees are flexible.

A lot of people go for the oak tree:  “I would be an oak tree, because I’m strong and dependable.”

If you just can’t stand the thought of choosing a tree, you could try saying something like, “I want to be the tree that would be most productive and useful to this organization.  That’s my goal.”

Or maybe you want to research some trees before your next interview.


If you’d like to practice your interview answers with professional feedback, or you need help with specific answers, I’d love to work with you as your interview coach.  Find out more about my special offer for personal 1:1 coaching or my group coaching membership that meets online Thursday evenings at 7:00pm CST!

Watch a free webinar on Perfect Interview Answers! Discover the best interview answers, critical mistakes to avoid, and an interview hack that will seal the deal. Interview for any job with confidence!



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