"The animal kingdom is broad, and everyone can identify with a specific animal they think embodies their own personalities and characteristics," Stormy Simon, president of Overstock, tells Business Insider.
"There are so many different human traits, where in the animal kingdom they put themselves, and why, really gives insight to the person answering the question. For example, just because you love dogs doesn't mean you would identify yourself as a dog," she explains.
Good answers, she says, are where the candidate picks an animal that they think truly personifies the traits that set them apart. "People have often chosen the same animal as other candidates, but the traits they describe have never been the same," says Simon. But they're not all good answers.
"One time an interviewee said they identified with a red panda because everyone thinks they are so cute and approachable, but it turns out they're just really lazy. We hired the candidate anyway despite that answer, but we parted ways within three weeks. It just goes to show how important the question is."
HootSuite CEO Ryan Holmes also likes to ask candidates, "What's your spirit animal?"
As he tells writer Jeff Haden, "During her interview, I asked my current executive assistant what was her favorite animal. She told me it was a duck, because ducks are calm on the surface and hustling like crazy getting things done under the surface," he says.
"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," Holmes tells Haden.