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What kind of tree would you be if you were a tree?

This is another example of the modern interview questions designed to get into your mind – your self image – and to throw you a curve to see how you react when not on safe ground.

There’s really no wrong answer to a question like this, as long as there’s a good explanation for the selected tree. As strange as it sounds, making it fit to the position is a big plus.

“Being in retail, I pride myself of always being available for extra shifts and not calling in sick. I’m an Evergreen, green and alive 365 days a year.”

Some people take the purely pragmatic approach:

“I’m not a tree, and I can’t be a tree, so please let’s move to the next question.”

That type of answer, while acknowledging the seemingly silly nature of the question, won’t score any points with the interviewer. There’s a more productive way to say the same thing.

“I like to keep my mind in the real world, so instead of thinking about the type of tree I would be, let’s just say like a tree with strong roots I’m firmly grounded.”

In fact, trees in general have a number of positive aspects, any one of which make a good answer to the question.

“I can’t think of only one, but I like to compare my curiosity to the trees’ leaves. Just as they spread out to gather the sun, I spread my mind to gather a lot of different information – I’m always learning new things.”

When choosing a specific tree, stay away from those with negative connotations like the weeping willow. Everything about it, from its look to its name, denotes drooping or weakness. Choose strong trees, or trees with long life spans such as:

• Oak
• Sequoia
• Pine

In the answer, include the reason for choosing the tree.

Strong:
“I’d be an Oak, strong and steady.”

Flexible:
“Pines aren’t as strong as, say, an Oak tree. They’re the kinds of trees that bend but don’t break. That’s me – flexible and resilient.”

Another good strategy for this question is to choose a specific tree.

That old tree:
“I recently read about a pine tree in the UK that’s over 4,500 years old. It’s the oldest living tree in the world. I’d be that tree – see and experience a lot, but always be around when needed.”

The question is whimsical, so don’t take it too seriously like this candidate did. “I’m a tree after a forest fire, I’ve been burned, and I hope you don’t plan to do the same.”

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