WORKPLACE / OCT. 29, 2013
version 4, draft 4

So Tell Me...Do You Like Dogs?

Perhaps not the most conventional of interview questions, but certainly not one to be taken lightly. I was once asked this question at the end of a telephone interview, which had gone swimmingly well. So much so that I was invited to the penultimate face to face interview. What I didn’t realise, however, was that the answer to that question (“Why yes I love dogs!”) would come back to bite me, so to speak…

As I reached the end of an endless corridor, and entered the starkly decorated, typically intimidating interview room, I could not fail to notice that sitting boldly next to the interview panel was…a dog. A very large dog in fact. Now, I do like dogs but frankly sitting opposite a Rottweiler was slightly disconcerting.

I thought that it was perhaps a test, similar to when you buy a dog from a rescue centre and they chuck the biggest dog on offer in the room with you ‘to see how you react’. Perhaps this was one of these new fangled recruitment strategies designed to see how a candidate reacts when they are out of their comfort zone. Of course, it would have been rude to have ignored the dog, and upon further questioning on my part it turns out that the boss loved his dog and wanted to bring it to work. Simple, if not slightly odd, but he was the boss and he could do what he liked. So that was that.  

But why are you telling us this strange anecdote, I hear you ask? On reflection, I should most certainly have queried as to why they were asking me this strange question in the first place, and I took this as a lesson to always ask an interviewer if there is a question that needs clarifying.  

Above all, I ascertained that in interviews it was perhaps best to avoid close ended answers. Replacing “Why yes I love dogs!” with “Why yes I do like dogs but I prefer small and fluffy dogs if I am honest. Large, scary dogs…not so much” shows that I am willing to express my own opinion, which in business is not a bad thing. Preparing yourself with as many facts as possible is crucial when attending an interview to save any surprises on the day. In my case, a little extra preparation may have saved me the shock of having to face ‘Jabba’, the Mutt on the interview panel!

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