Law Job Do’s & Don’ts: Using Humor During The Interview

Humor helps build trust with personal relationships and can help influence attitudes at work. In fact Harvard Business Review recently published an article, Sarcasm, Self-Deprecation, and Inside Jokes: A User’s Guide to Humor at Work which weighs in on when and how to use humor. 

There are rules to follow and avoid when to interject humor and the risks associated by doing so. Humor goes a long way with personal relationships, but not many consider humor to be a powerful tool at the job or during an interview. 

No one likes to be the nay sayer or a gloom and doom prognosticator. Lifting up the room does more than just putting everyone in a good mood. Humor can bring the energy level up and improve the workplace culture building interpersonal trust and influence critical behaviors and attitudes. 

Inappropriate remarks no matter how funny can be perceived as offensive and harm your professional standing at work. Unintended consequences include being thought of a thoughtless and incompetent may cost you your job. 

It takes skill to know what Is appropriate and where and when to tactically use humor. Being clever and humorous makes people view you as more competent and intelligent. During a job interview it can help you become memorable, leaving a positive impression as a winner and someone who will fit in at the firm. 

Follow these job-interview do’s and don’ts when using humor: 

1. Stay away from jokes and being sarcastic. If it doesn’t come from you then it’s going to come off as clumsy, scripted and phony. Rule of thumb, no jokes. 

2. Reflect on something genuinely funny or fun in your life. Sharing a real-life experience that makes us smile and feel good helps to lighten up the mood during the interview. If you are not funny, don’t try to force it. There are plenty of other ways to be impactful.  
Shari Davidson, President of On Balance Search Consultants — “Use a personal humorous story about yourself that is relevant to the conversation”.

3. Read your audience and follow the interviewer’s lead. Pay attention to cues and body language.

4. Make sure you are being positive. Focus on lifting up the conversation to spark enthusiasm, reduce tension or hostility, or to simply put people at ease. 

5. Tactically interject humor to make a point, illustrate an example, and create a lasting, positive perception of you as a competent attorney. Attempting to use it for anything else is a mistake. Be sensitive to topics of gender, race, disability, sexual orientation, age discrimination, and anything else that could potentially offend.

“Show how you made light of a challenging situation by using humor to reduce the tension and turn the crisis into a success story. You can also demonstrate how you used humor to defuse a hostile situation and resolved the conflict,” said Shari Davidson. 

These five simple do’s and don’ts will help you appear like a more competent, emotionally intelligent, effective, and desirable candidate. 

#law #lawjobs #lawyerlife #attorney #legalrecuriter 

About On Balance Search Consultants
On Balance offers great insight and industry intelligence.  Shari Davidson, president of On Balance Search Consultants, advises law firms on how to take a firm to the next level and helps rising talent make the transition to the right law firm.

Contact us today.  Call 516.731.3400 or visit our website at

Please note that the content of this blog does not constitute legal advice and is only intended for the educational purpose of the reader.  Please consult your legal counsel for specifics regarding your specific circumstances and the laws in your states pertaining to social media and any legal restrictions regarding the law.

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