Tag Archives: humour

Humour in the Interview – Tread Lightly

I had a good discussion with one of my friends this week about using humour at work, especially when you are new in a group or organization.  That got me thinking about humour in an interview setting.

An interview is like a first date.  You are listening and answering to see if there is a fit, to see if you get along.  Do you relate to the same things?  Do you share a common language or way of speaking?

There certainly can be some shared laughter in that kind of conversation but be careful it’s not nervous humour.  High pitched giggles and bathroom humour are definitely out.

If you are going to say something that you think is funny, check first – is it respectful and professional?  There is definitely no room for sarcasm in an interview.  Even if the hiring manager seems to be okay with it or throwing out some barbs, don’t do it.  Sarcasm is mean and even if it’s delivered in a funny way, it can still hurt someone’s feelings.

If the interviewer says something that’s funny to you, check their face before you burst out laughing.  If their eyes and mouth are not warm and smiling, perhaps it is not funny to them.  Definitely avoid laughing if they are not laughing.  This can be very awkward.

So tread carefully and pay attention.

And disregard this whole thing if you are interviewing at a Comedy Club.

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Job Journey: Nail the Interview with One Question

Picture this: you are at a job interview and things are going really well. The hiring manager leans back in her chair and asks if you have any questions. Bang! Here is your opportunity to cement everything and nail the job.

So, what do you ask?

Hint: Do not begin by asking about the start date. If they really want you, they will have already asked that question.

There are a couple of ways to go. One is to focus on the hiring manager. When did they start with the company? What do they like about the organization? What is the most meaningful part of their work?

You can also dig deeper into the company and it’s culture. What challenges does it face? What sets them apart from their competitors? What is the style of the senior leadership team?

Or you can ask about the role itself. You can ask about the compensation. Careful though. Sometimes employers don’t want to talk about that until quite late in the process. You could ask about whether there is variable compensation and how it’s tied to your performance. The answer to that could be quite insightful. You could also ask for more detail about other other
perks such as savings plans, company discount programs or tuition reimbursement. This one is nice because you could get a follow up question about your future goals around learning.
(so be ready for that).

There are lots of choices. The important thing is to think about it before you get there so that they are ready at hand. You don’t want to end an interview with a blank look and a shrug.

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Mastering the Skype Interview

This week has been interesting. I met a lot of people – about half in person and the other half virtually.

I like the skype interview. I don’t feel guilty about making people come all the way to my office (and mortgage their car to pay for downtown parking). It’s also easier to fit in to busy people’s schedules.

Here is what I noticed. The people who met me in person had obviously taken care with their appearance and their timing. There was a general sense of preparedness about them when I met them in our reception area.

The skype chats were different. It seemed to be a much more casual thing. Not too much care with the surroundings and not to concerned about attire.

Now, I know that different industries have different “uniforms”. If you meeting someone from a financial institution, you need to look well dressed and successful. Cuff links and monogrammed cuffs are optional but the suit is mandatory.

But even if you are interviewing in a software company with Red Bull on tap, you are probably going to put on a clean t shirt.

Don’t let a video interview be your downfall. It is just as important as an in-person one.

  • Be ready – test your wifi connection with a friend before the call
  • Look neat – you can take the TV news anchor approach – shirt and tie on top, shorts on the bottom
  • Have your resume and place to make notes beside you
  • Turn off your phone – you know it’s going with that obnoxious ring tone you assigned to your brother-in-law in the middle of the thorny salary question
  • Remove distractions – let everyone (including your dog) know that you are in an important meeting

These things won’t necessarily get you the job but they will help you make a better impression.

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Out of Office Notification

No career/job/networking blather today – I am too busy writing thank you notes.glass2

I hope you have fun and at least slightly indulgent plans for New Year’s Eve.

When you are making all those resolutions, don’t forget your career!

All the best for 2o17 – may it be one of growth and success for us all!


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Interview like a Star – Don’t make these Mistakes

I polled a couple of colleagues today and was surprised at the rapid pile of responses I got to “biggest interview mistakes”.

These are real life examples.  I am not making them up.  Promise.

  • leaving your phone on during an interview
  • taking a call on that phone while you are in an interview
  • forgetting to do up your middle button
  • having lettuce in your teeth
  • arriving late
  • not knowing who you are meeting
  • wearing clothes that don’t fit
  • being drunk
  • interrupting the interviewer
  • sweaty palms
  • speaking too quickly
  • rambling – if you can’t remember the question, you have talked too long
  • offensive jokes
  • asking about other possible roles in the company
  • using LinkedIn to connect with the hiring manager or president before the interview

All of these can be avoided with two simple steps.  Prepare the day before and do a 360 review with a mirror before you get to the interview location.

In fact, these steps are pretty sensible for any meeting   Go ahead and practice.  You will be happy you did.

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What would Gaga do?

I once saw Anderson Cooper interview Lady Gaga on the venerable CBS show 60 Minutes.  She is a pretty interesting character.  Anderson was asking her about how she handles the way the press hang around waiting to catch her in an embarrassing situation.

“Well, Anderson, I am just not a barf in the bar kind of girl”.

Love it.

Love it.

Love it.

This is the kind of authenticity that everyone needs to bring to an interview.  It does not matter if it is a telephone interview with a recruiter or a face to face meeting with a hiring manager.  Confident, direct and truthful is the way to go.

This does not give you permission to be rude or disrespectful.  If you are asked how you got along with your former boss, you really shouldn’t say he was a jerk or he couldn’t read financial statements to save his life.  It is okay, however, to explain that you made decisions differently or you had different approaches to customer service.

An interview is like the nice pair of shoes in the shop window.  You go in to see if they have your size. You try them on.  You walk around for a while, thinking of outfits that will work with them.  You think about whether you can afford them.  You see if the salesperson will give you a deal and together, you decide if they are the right pair for you. 

If they don’t feel comfortable in the shop, don’t buy them, no matter how good a deal they are.  They will mock you every time you see them in your closet.

Lady Gaga wouldn’t settle for ill-fitting loafers.  Why should you?

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Now this is street art…..

Last week, I discovered one of the drags of walking to work.  I don’t walk all the way, just from the train station to my office.  It’s a pretty crowded walk.  Not exactly like New York City in the movies but kind of close.

As a person who has driven to work for the last 10 years, I have enjoyed the privilege of singing in the car. By singing, I mean wailing.  Heck, it’s a private space.  Why not?

Now I walk amongst the masses and when I wear my ipod, I have to purse my lips together to prevent myself from breaking into song.  On Friday, I had particularly good music on and honestly, I thought my lips were going to cramp up. 

I was standing at a red light with my lips zipped when I heard a strange noise poking through my tunes.  I glanced sideways, and realized that the girl beside me was singing “Desperado” at the top of her lungs.  I am not kidding.  Eight o’clock in the morning and she is laying it all out for us while we wait for green.  Sheesh!

I got to thinking.  Would she be the one in the meeting who is looking out the window and not listening to any part of the conversation?  Or is she the one who appears to be listening but then opens her mouth with something completely irrelevant?  Here’s a thought:  perhaps she was a recording artist on her way to an audition/interview.  We could give her the benefit of the doubt.  Or not.

Regardless of how she might behave in a meeting, what do you think of her behaviour on the street corner? Rude?  Inconsiderate? I just chalked it up to bizarre sightings of random singing and moved on.  Although, I realized later that when I was waiting at the next red light, I was tapping my foot.

Could a full out plié be next?


Eagles – Desparado


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So…..are we exclusive?

I was talking about LinkedIn with a group of people on Monday evening.  One of the big questions seemed to be about invitations. When someone invites you to connect, should you accept?

Some people only accept invites from people they know. Others, like people in my profession, accept all invitations.

The answer lies in why you got on LinkedIn in the first place. Is it a place to hang out with former colleagues?  A place to develop your consulting reputation?  Maybe you want to grow your community of influence, so that when you throw a highly pithy comment out there – you get lots of feedback.

Most of us keep our profiles current and polished so we can get noticed. We want prospective employers or clients to find us and look us over. The way we get “found” is by broadening our networks either by accepting invitations or joining groups.

Here’s a possible strategy:

  • Take a look at your invites once every week or so. You don’t have to do it right away. They will not evaporate.
  • If you don’t know the person, click on their name. Maybe that will jog your memory or you will realize that they know a lot of the same people you do.
  • Decide if you want to accept, ignore or procrastinate a little longer.

So, when you are deciding whether your network is going small and exclusive or open and diverse, think about how you want to be treated. When you reach out to someone, you want to be acknowledged, right?

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The most romantic occupations

I took a moment to read the Globe and Mail this morning and came across this gem:

After analyzing 15,000 Harlequin books, neuroscientists Ogi Ogas and Sai Gaddam came up with a list of the top 10 most popular professions for heroes in romance novels, reports Mediabistro.com. They are: 1. Doctor, 2. Cowboy, 3. Boss, 4. Prince, 5. Rancher, 6. Knight, 7. Surgeon, 8. King, 9. Bodyguard, 10. Sheriff.

Let’s just take a look at the top five.  I know they come from romance novels that are meant to help us escape the trials of everyday life but I’m just not sure these are the right kind of occupations.

  • Doctor – smart, rich but never home
  • Cowboy – fit, tanned but always smells like horses
  • Boss – not sure about this one.  Boss of whom?  Is there such as thing as a generic boss?  If there is, he is probably underpaid and a little on the dumpy side.
  • Prince – I’m not sure that having a kingdom is all it’s cracked up to be.  Good if you like attending “functions” and always fake-smiling.
  • Rancher – see cowboy above except substitute cows.  On the upside though, he could be the Marlborough Man. 

 How come you never see these titles in romance novels? 

  • Teacher – steady income and summers off.
  • Candy Maker – creative and might have a test kitchen in your basement.
  • Massage Therapist – do I really need to explain this?
  • Pirate – exotic destinations and lots of gold.


I would much rather date a teacher than a cowboy but that’s just me.  Maybe I need a richer fantasy life.

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New tools, new rules

Social media, social shmedia…..it’s everywhere.  And it’s a tremendous tool for job seekers and for hiring managers but as with any new tool, there are safety rules that need to be followed to prevent a career ending injury.

It’s okay to find someone on linkedin and to invite them to connect with you but give them a reason.  Don’t just send the canned invitation.  Personalize it with a note about why you want to connect.  Remember that popular people are inundated with invitations and may be selective.  Also remember that some people do not check linkedin often, so there may be quite a delay. 

It’s okay to argue about bedtime with your sixteen year old on facebook chat. (This is actually surprisingly effective)  It is definitely not okay to “friend” the hiring manager you just met so you can check out their weekend plans.

Use the level of formality as your guide.  A new relationship should start out pretty formally – like a first date.  An email and maybe a hand written note after the first conversation or meeting.  Once relations are established, then voice and emails are effective.  When the relationship has moved into the very familiar, (think: going steady) then the texting and facebooking can begin. 

Also, be mindful of the organization’s culture when you are deciding what kind of communication will get you to the next level.  Most engineering firms will squint and crinkle their noses if you try to connect by pinging them through facebook but at Zappos, the hugely successful online shoe retailer,  it’s absolutely the best way to connect.  If fact, their employees are encouraged to interact with customers and potential employees via facebook and twitter.  Different audience, different culture, different rules.

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