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If you were an animal, would you have fleas?

Burt's Eye View

If you were an animal, what kind of animal would you be?

That has to be one of the worst job interview questions ever, right up there with if you were a tree what kind of tree would you be?

Listen, if you’re hiring a proboscis monkey to run the drill press or a maple sapling to drive a tow motor, I’m filing a safety complaint with OSHA. Unless I’ve run away to join the circus, I’m not comfortable knowing that my boss might be an actual donkey or a dogwood.

It’s been a few years since I’ve gone through a job interview. I wondered if the interviewers hated peppering me with crazy questions as much as I did stumbling over plausible-sounding lies.

• Interviewer: “Why do you want to work here?”

Glossy answer: “It’s been my lifelong dream to be a part of a caring and dedicated corporation that so benefits mankind and the common good.”

Truth: “For the paycheck, ding-dong. Why else would I not go to the beach instead?”

• Interviewer: “What is your greatest weakness?”

Glossy answer: “I care too much. I stay late because I can’t stand to leave a job undone.”

Truth: “I haven’t finished a single project since 1987, and that was a Legos model of a sail boat.”

• Interviewer: “Where do you see yourself in five years?”

Glossy answer: “I will be collecting at least my third consecutive salesman of the year award and turning down offers from all the other companies trying to hire me away from this paradise of yours.”

Truth: “I hope to finally have a girlfriend and a new personal best score in Ms. Pac-Man.”

The worst interview question of all has to be that nonsense about what kind of animal would you be. I always chose elephant or dolphin.

Why? I loved watching “Flipper” fight sharks as a kid. I love the dolphin’s combination of speed, intelligence and playfulness. The massive elephant amazes me with his strength, reason and gentle ferocity — and his good looks.

According to various crib sheets on job interviews, those are excellent answers. I don’t know why. At DQ, for example, an elephant wouldn’t fit between the cash register and the soft serve machines, and a dolphin would always top hot fudge sundaes with sardines.

Bad answers, according to the experts, include jellyfish, spiders and snakes. Jellyfish are spineless but with a deadly touch, spiders wrap up prey in webs and suck out life juices, and snakes have that whole deception-in-the-Garden thing going against them — besides giving people the creeps.

I think there are worse answers.

Cats — They do only what they want when they want — right after their nap.

Cows — A cow will casually step on your foot and stand there daydreaming while you yowl.

Ducks — Land, sea or ear, they’re ready to escape. And they always claim it’s rabbit season.

Kangaroos — Always hopping off, and are we sure that’s only a baby roo squirming in their pockets?

Dogs — Sure, they’re loyal, but they also drink out of toilet bowls just before licking your face. And that one kept raising its leg when I told an interviewer that I’d be an oak tree.

— Interview Cole at burtseyeview@tribtoday.com, the Burton W. Cole page on Facebook or at www.burtonwcole.com.

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