WorkWise Blog Tip and Q&A: Humor, poor showing, impressions

October 27, 2013 


Q: Dear Dr. Culp, I keep reading that humor sells, but I have no idea how to make anything in my job hunt humorous. Humor doesn’t seem to belong in a cover letter. If my appearance is a little off-beat, I’m afraid people will think I’m clowning or being cocky, which is disrespectful. If I act silly in an interview, I won’t be taken seriously. I don’t need an anger management class. I need one on acceptable humor. Serious

A: Dear Serious, The best humor is natural. Immerse yourself in situations where people are humorous and pay attention when a person tells you something funny.

For concentrated humor, analyze comedians and cartoonists, particularly those who poke fun at the workplace. How do they approach a topic so it’s not deadly dull? Where do they get the perspective that makes people laugh?

Humor is individual. If you can’t absorb and repackage the humor you find, you might not have an entertaining personality. Don’t try to be something you aren’t or you’ll risk being insincere and inauthentic. In addition, you could be hired on the basis of false portrayal, which would hamper you on the job. mlc


Q: Dear Dr. Culp, This morning I met with a group in the department considering me for a promotion. A number of things went wrong, beginning with my being extremely nervous.

A technological glitch made a Power Point illustration difficult to read. I interrupted people as soon as they started asking questions, because I was so jumpy. I’m afraid they got the idea that I don’t want to be promoted or, worse, that I shouldn’t be. Any suggestions? Jittery\

A: Dear Jittery, Everyone probably knew you wanted the job and understood why you were nervous. Technological glitches also happen.

Why don’t you re-do the bad page and embed it in a note or email? Thank people for interviewing you. Toss in some self-deprecating humor. Mention that you’re sure that your excitement sent out vibes that dulled the Power Point. Use an exclamation point.

Meanwhile, get a person who wasn’t on the panel but who considers you a winner to call one of the interviewers, comment that he or she heard that you’d interviewed and wants to lend support to your candidacy. If your presentation was the total loss you think it was, you’ll hear about it. mlc


Attorney Tom Flores watches interviewing trends and indicates that techies may be undermining themselves ( He observes that sandals are acceptable, as are shoes with leather around each toe, but wait until you have 20 years at the company.

What should you leave home without? The stamp on your hand the club put there last night or the night before ...

When you drive into a parking lot, heed the signs. “Compact,” “electric” and, for car poolers, “HOV” clue you in to what goes where. No, you’re not being judged by your car. Find the right place for your car and you might find a place for yourself.

Otherwise, Flores comments, “you'll get a great spot, but you’ll be driving that Yukon or Escalade home alone with no job.”

Are you interviewing at a coffee shop? Make it plain, he says: “Either drip coffee or maybe a latte. No blenders, no half caf, no extra anything. Basically nothing over two ingredients If you order something frappe’d, with a scoop of ice cream, chocolate flakes and caramel syrup, nobody (will) to take you seriously.”

Give yourself a break. Don’t make your first impression your last.

(Dr. Mildred Culp welcomes your questions at © 2013 Passage Media.)

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