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Tough Interview Questions

To help you prepare for your next job interview, here are 30 of our hardest interview questions.

Tough was written by and updated on December 5th, 2020. Learn more here.

Question 11 of 30

Do you ever use your sense of humor to diffuse a situation at work?

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Advice and Examples: Do you ever use your sense of humor to diffuse a situation at work?

  1. 11.

    Do you ever use your sense of humor to diffuse a situation at work?

      How to Answer

      The interviewer wants to know that you can diffuse a tense situation if needed. They also want to see a bit more of your personality! Stress and fast-paced work environments can cause people to feel overwhelmed and sometimes even angry or upset. Think of a time when you took a much more lighthearted approach to diffuse a tense situation.

      Rachelle's Answer

      "I recall a day last month when our team focused on solving a serious technical error with our system. It got to the point where a few members of the team were so frustrated they were getting angry with each other. I stepped out to grab some coffees from the shop next door. When I returned, I said 'Hot coffee to make us all feel warm and fuzzy again!' Everyone laughed and took a break from what they were doing."

      Rachelle's Answer for an Admin Interview

      "Humor is one of those universal things to which everyone can relate. When used properly, it can help bridge a gap or bond a relationship. I use it, with good taste and professionalism, often in my communication. It is important to enjoy what you do, and humor is a big component of that."

      Rachelle's Answer for a Manager Interview

      "Humor can be a great tool, and it can also be a harmful one. For that reason, I make sure to fully gauge my teammate or superior before I begin cracking jokes. I do appreciate a clean sense of humor in the workplace from time to time. Not everything can be serious. In the event of a serious situation; however, I am more likely to remain on the serious side."

      Rachelle's Answer for a Marketing Interview

      "I use my humor at work, both with co-workers and in my work product itself. I like to bring a bit of spice and humor into the copy I create, when appropriate, which I believe fits in quite well with many clients' brand voice. I look forward to showing you more of what I've got!"

      Rachelle's Answer for a Retail Interview

      "I would say that I use my sense of humor often at work, poking fun in friendly ways. A bit of good sarcasm does seem to make things a bit lighter and more fun on the floor. A lighter-hearted mentality allows everyone to shake off whatever is bringing us down and move on to the next issue to tackle."

      Rachelle's Answer for a Sales Interview

      "I have been at far too many awkward dinner parties with a family who are veiled enemies, so from a young age, I learned to diffuse a tense situation with humor and grace, and look to find commonalities between the two sides. Humor is a skill I have brought to the office countless times. One time in particular that stands out was at a company retreat, and we were prepping in our teams for our pitch. Everyone was stressed and getting short, pointing fingers and blaming the other groups of the team and overall just being unproductive and rude. Another team member and I sneaked out into the hall and came back with La Croix for the team, which is kind of a company inside joke. We shoved them across the table and said "Peace offering! Choosing your flavor is the only thing that should be cutthroat for the rest of the day!" People smiled and took a moment to chill, and we all were able to move on without conflict."

      Rachelle's Answer for a Teacher Interview

      "My students love humor, albeit, their brand is not always appropriate for the classroom! If a lesson plan is getting too tense, I will tell a funny joke, read an entertaining story, or have a kid tell me a joke. I think that humor plays an important part in the classroom."

      4 Community Answers

      Anonymous interview answers with our interview experts feedback

      Anonymous Interview Answer

      "Once I was making a presentation with the theme "New Retail in the Era of Internet 2.0", and when I was talking about the development of technology in China, the pictures could not be displayed normally on the screen. In such a short time, I could not fix the computer. Although I was kind of embarrassed, I made fun of myself, saying that "How could the technology embarrass me when I am boasting about it!" Everyone laughed, and I continued talking about the development. Without the power points, I still did a good job."

      Rachelle's Feedback for the Answer Above

      This is a great way to diffuse a potentially embarrassing situation. Good example that is sure to make anyone smile :)

      How would you rate Rachelle's Feedback?

      Anonymous Interview Answer

      "It depends on the situation. In some situations, humor could be mistaken as an attempt to humiliate or taunt and would appear unprofessional. An example of a time that humor helped diffuse a situation at work was when I was dispatched to an unruly individual with mental health issues. I was able to develop a rapport with the individual and was able to successfully get him to calm down. I was able to joke with the individual and their caretaker noticed a great change in his attitude. The caretaker advised that police assistance was no longer needed and thanked me for talking down their patient."

      Cindy's Feedback for the Answer Above

      Good revision. That example helps it "live" for me. I also see effective use of the STAR system and it worked for you.

      How would you rate Cindy's Feedback?

      Anonymous Interview Answer

      "I was with a client and the system flagged her husband for fraud; his name and DOB were also on another case also making it appear he had another family she was unaware of. The wife was in tears but expressed her thankfulness and relief when my research concluded the SSN's and driver's license were different and it was all a system error. I felt it was appropriate while ending the call to ease out of the tension from that scenario to say " I'm going to call the other family now and make sure her husband is not sleeping in the doghouse". She broke out in laughter and thanked me again for fixing the issue."

      Marcie's Feedback for the Answer Above

      This example is the perfect one to use here because it is relatable and funny. Great answer!

      How would you rate Marcie's Feedback?

      Anonymous Interview Answer

      "After I joined a product team, I brought the "naming culture" to the team. For example, I named my project "Pacific" because it's a project to build a search filter for millions of photos, like searching for things in the big ocean. Everyone on the team liked the name and also started naming other projects. We all enjoy that because it not only makes discussions easier (say "Pacific" instead of "Photo Filter") but also brings more fun before working on tough projects."

      Amanda's Feedback for the Answer Above

      Appropriate humor can help strengthen team bonds and make working together more enjoyable. Your answer provides a positive example of how you've used a more lighthearted approach to project work that your team enjoys and has rallied around. It sounds like it also helps your team take ownership of their work and put a positive spin on big or difficult projects.

      How would you rate Amanda's Feedback?