At a recent workshop, the question was raised:
How important is humor in an interview?
This question does not have a clear high or low
response. It should be “appropriate”, however.
For many, humor seems spontaneous and is
“part of a person’s personality.” Humor feels like
a mental outcome of realizing something that we
did not at first realize or appreciate. It can be
related to unexpected actions, accidents, or
statements, as we think about TV programs about
funny things. Humor can be situational, something
is funny at one time and not at another.
Laughing is not required but is often associated with
humor. I have been asked by people for whom English
or American culture is not native, should I laugh when
a joke is told and I do not “get it?” David Brooks
recently wrote about this in his book, “The Social
Animal” and he pointed out that laughter comes about
when we establish a social connection. It is very
rarely in response to a joke. It’s usually in response
to when we’re doing something in common together.
…So, laughter is a tool we use to bond ourselves
Barbara Haislip interviewed Burt Tepliszky about humor
in business. Burt said jokes can establish rapport with
customers, release tenstion and increase your “likeability.”
Isn’t that part of an interview?
In business, Haislip indicated that humor can be used well
when the punch line is linked to the benefit of the product
or service being sold. In an interview, you are the product
you are selling.
In an interview the stress level can be higher than normal.
So, humor can be a communication tool to reduce the
stress and point to common areas of interest. If the
interviewer offers something humorous, it might also
provide an opening for you to express humor either aimed
at yourself or at a situation. Use only “clean,” “proven”
jokes or comments. When in doubt, leave it out.