5 Ways to Use Humor in a Job Interview

Stop us if you’ve heard this one: a guy walks into a bar…While this may be a fantastic way to break the ice with your most recent online date or a tale to regale your college friends over a few beers, using humor during a job interview is a far more delicate operation.  

Laughing at yourself is a great piece of advice to teach much-needed humility in life, but trading quips while interviewing for the job of your dreams is a different matter altogether.  Humor can be both a tool for breaking the ice during your interview but, when used inappropriately, could also potentially hurt your chances at getting that follow up or job offer.  So just how do you navigate the comic waters during this all-important hiring process?  We’ve got a few suggestions to help you out.

  1. Read the Room

First and foremost, learn to read the personality, mood and body language of the person conducting your interviewer.  If your potential employer starts the meeting off by trading quips or cracking jokes, feel free to follow suit in an appropriate and approachable manner.  If on the other hand, it’s all business in the demeanor front, you may want to hold back on those jokes.  

  1. Humor isn’t a Job Skill

Unless you’re applying for an opening at the local clown academy, humor should be used as a tool to open up a dialog and inject levity into your interview rather than the main substance of your personality.  Pepper in a smile, laugh or occasional funny reference rather than turning your entire meeting into a Rodney Dangerfield sketch.  This will help enrich your personality in the eyes of your interviewer, rather than making you seem unprofessional or that you’re not taking the job prospect seriously.

  1. Mind Your Humor Manners

When injecting a little bit of fun and games into your conversational skills, be sure to keep topics light and approachable and steer clear of anything controversial or political.  While we all love the late night stand up comedian’s ability to skewer the politician, priest or lawyer, it’s harder to identify your interviewer’s political leanings to ensure you don’t offend with a misplaced quip.  Focus on general topics or relatable scenarios, like that time your kid stuck that sucker in your dog’s fur or wife’s fur coat.

  1. This Isn’t Stand-Up

Remember that while humor is a useful tool in an interview, job applicants should strive for approachable rather than come prepared with a sketch worthy of Saturday Night Live.  A warm smile or an understanding laugh can help you seem engaged while still serious about the potential position.  This combination of traits will appeal to the person conducting the interviewer and will allow the dialog to flow more smoothly when you get down to serious business of qualifications and the like.

  1. Timing is Everything

Speaking of qualifications, remember that the real purpose of your job interview is to sell yourself as the perfect candidate for the job.  Finding ways to use humor to do this while still discussing or otherwise working in your prior experience creates a happy medium of approachability and qualification for the task at hand.  Self-deprecating remarks that are light in nature but reference your prior experience are the perfect way to break the ice and get the conversation flowing in the right direction.  After all, you may enjoy an hour-long conversation where you and your interviewer exchange chuckles, but that still won’t land you the gig without solid qualifications.

The Bottom Line on Humor

Using humor in an interview takes a deft hand and balanced approach.  With the push and pull between professionalism and approachability, potential candidates may want to tread with caution before cracking jokes in the meeting room.  When used correctly, however, humor is an essential element in establishing likability and can even indicate that a candidate has the essential analytical skills necessary to relate disparate events, whether for a laugh or professional reason.  Establish the perfect balance and you’ll be well on your way to humor induced, interview success.  Laughter is, after all, the thing that makes the world go round.

Article Updated from the Original on September 28, 2017