Humour in Interviews

A good sense of humour can be a powerful tool – it assists greatly in the development and nurturing of effective relationships, naturally puts people at ease and shows that you are fun to be around.

But is humour appropriate in interviews?

Probably best to consider the following tips first!

Focus on Content 

Being able to effectively highlight and showcase your skills, experience, values, and overall job fit is the most essential part of an interview so keep the focus on that. Don’t allow laughter or humour to detract from your overall suitability.

Do your Homework

Being prepared for the interview is also essential. Research the organisation, communicate your accomplishments and strengths in response to behavioural questions and have some insightful questions for the interviewer at the end of the interview. 

Laughter and humour should be a secondary and natural response from all participants in the interview, rather than you having to force it upon people.

Avoid Telling Jokes

In this day and age, humour can be more complicated and sensitive than you might think. Humour can be culturally defined, and people’s backgrounds tend play a huge role in the way humour is perceived. 

So, at the risk of potentially offending people who you don’t know it’s probably best to stick to the facts and remain professional throughout.

Read the Room

Some interviewers are very good at creating a relaxed, natural, and chatty environment whilst others can be quite stiff, formal, and rigid. As mentioned at the start of this article, humour and laughter can be a great rapport building tool but remember that you are the one being interviewed so try and wait and see how the interviewer/s act first. 

If they are serious and official, then you should try to do the same. Conversely if they are laughing and joking, then you can join in, to a certain extent. But let them take the lead. 

Unsolicited joking or laughter on your part could tarnish your interview performance and the interviewers’ overall impression of you.


Paul Bell

Principal Consultant, Hender Careers

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