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Life Lessons

What’s the Funniest Thing That’s Ever …

Ever since people have hired, they’ve been trying to find out who is the right person for the job.
And talent, as the book by Geoff Colvin says, is overrated.
“My biggest mistake is probably weighing too much on someone’s talent and not someone’s personality,” said Elon Musk, Founder and CEO of Tesla Motors and SpaceX. “I think it matters whether someone has a good heart.”
So where do you find insights into someone’s personality? Can it be done, for instance, in an interview?
At least one restaurateur thought so. This story comes to me courtesy of a friend who heard it during a talk.
The restaurateur’s business was renowned for its service, and he needed the right person to deliver it. For insights into the applicant’s character, he asked one interview question in particular: “What’s the funniest thing that’s ever happened to you?”
As you can imagine, everyone had an answer. But the man asking the question wasn’t just looking for the answer. He was looking for the way the answer was delivered.
If the applicant gave a straightforward recitation of something funny, that was one thing. But if the applicant laughed while telling the story, that was better.
Laughing at the story reflected — at least in the eyes of the restaurant owner — a rich emotional intelligence.
Was this method of hiring the right person effective? For the restaurateur it seemed to be. Who knows? Perhaps he was was being guided by other things that happened in the interview, subconscious cues picked up in the course of the conversation.
But one thing is for sure. It never hurts to be able to laugh at yourself. It makes you attractive to those around you — even the ones who may be giving you a job.


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