February 23, 2012
You got your foot in the door, and its time for your job interview. You shook hands, sat down, and you’re smiling at the person across the desk. Suddenly, you find yourself saying, “So, stop me if you’ve heard this one. A guy walks into a bar”
If you’ve ever started an interview this way, its a safe bet you didn’t get the job. To say that jokes are considered time-wasters in a job interview is an understatement. However, there are ways you can use humor in a job interview to your advantage.Here are five ways you can use humor to lighten up the atmosphere without jeopardizing your prospects.
Scope out your interviewer
If you see the barest hint of an obligatory job interview smile, use humor sparingly. For example, you can have a chuckle, ever so slightly, about the easier commute to this new location. If, on the other hand, you’re lucky enough to get a genial, smiling interviewer, you can relax a bit just not too much.
Use humor as an inflection, not as a key to your personality
You don’t want to come across as a laugh-a-minute type of person; it’s obnoxious in a work setting. Just as some people talk too much when they’re nervous, some people try to be funny in order to mask their nerves. If you’ve noticed that the jokes are starting to fly, take it down several notches.
Keep it general
Everyone has a different sense of humor, and people react to funny comments in different ways. For these reasons, its best to keep your observations as general as possible, talking about things that we can all relate to, such as the weather or the traffic. They might not seem like prime laugh material, but unless you’re auditioning for a position as a piano bar entertainer, they’re a lot safer.
Aim for being pleasant rather than funny
You’re not selling yourself as a comedian. You’re selling yourself as an engaged, easy-to-work-with co-worker. You’ll want your interviewers notes to read, “ready with a smile” rather than “cracks jokes all the time.”
Instead of jokes, use little asides
Chances are theres not going to be time for a joke-telling session during your interview, so instead, focus on interjecting a few humorous remarks at the right time. These can be self-deprecating. For example, if you have several glowing newspaper write-ups in your portfolio, you can say, “Oh, well, it was a slow news week.” If you’ve won Employee of the Month a number of times, you can say, “Stuffing the ballot box works every time.” But before you indulge in self-deprecating humor, check to see it your interviewer has a sense of humor to begin with, and don’t say anything that he or she might take seriously.
If you decide to use humor in a job interview, you will be walking a tightrope. However, if you can pull it off, the effort is worth it. After all, job sites like Simply Hired are full of job postings that mention “A sense of humor is a must in this job.” As long as you keep it clean, keep it appropriate and don’t bring out your killer Beavis and Butthead imitations, a touch of humor can distance you from the rest of the pack.