Humor in the Job Interview

Many job interview candidates feel that they are the only ones at the conference table with something to lose. While human resource managers are certainly in a power position, it is important for employers to leave a positive impression so that they can hire the best talent. A sense of humor can be a great part of this positive impression, provided that employers remain professional during the job interview.

Humor can be a great tool in a professional job interview. A good sense of humor can put a candidate more at ease, and can help contribute to a great candidate experience. A more casual tone also helps simulate a day-to-day office atmosphere (we hope, anyway). Judging a candidate’s response to a few jokes gives employers a good idea of how they will fit in with the rest of the office. Humor allows a better glimpse into a candidate’s personality.

In order to keep humor professional during a job interview, try to stick to work-related topics and humor. Your jokes should complement the substance of an interview, not be the substance of an interview. For example, a joke about “the iPhone 84” while talking about social media marketing is totally appropriate. Going on a tangent about your grandmother who can’t work her cell phone because one of her cats stole it, and she makes THE BEST muffins… is not so appropriate. Jokes about technology, common industry complaints, and workplace behavior can all be appropriate. However, beware of speaking too strongly about people in your office. These jokes should still maintain an overall positive view of your office. Jabs at a coworker who always breaks the printer are probably fine. Making fun of someone’s work performance or negative attitude is not professional and gives a bad impression.

Although a perfect job interview would stay exactly on topic for the duration…that doesn’t always happen. Talk about hobbies and such isn’t very productive, but some topics can still be safe and professional for employers. Sports and weather are usually fun, neutral topics. Be sure that your jokes about rival sports teams are kind, though!

Many other topics of conversation have unexpected pitfalls. We all know not to joke about race, politics, or religion in a job interview (or ever, really). However, also watch out for things related to hobbies, pet ownership and personal habits. Not only are these topics unnecessary—and bordering on inappropriate—to a job interview, but they are giant gray areas for employers. There is no good way to make a joke about these topics without the risk of offending someone.

What advice do you have for using humor in job interviews? Leave a comment below, or send me a tweet: @ithinkther4iamb #jobinterview

IMAGE: Courtesy of Flickr by Ali Brohi

  • Angela

    Thank you for suggestions of humor!