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VIDEO: How To Use Humor in a Job Interview...

OK - I don't know most of you personally, so I can't tell you how to use humor in a job interview.  What I can tell you is that humor in a job interview is dangerous - it's kind of like lighting a BBQ grill with traditional coals and lighter fluid.  You have the lighter fluid and a matches.  There's a safe way to do it, then there's the Fire Marshall Bill way..

If you use the whole can of lighter fluid and stick your face over the coals, you're probably going to get hurt.  

If you go too deep with humor in an interview, you're going to hurt your chances of getting the job.  Here's what to do and not to do when using humor:

1.  Make fun of something that's universally funny and everyone understands.  "See the deal with Lindsey Lohan over the weekend?  She's got some issues."  Safe.

2.  Don't talk too long about it.  "See the deal with LL over the weekend?  The last time I did that many jello shots, I".... oops.  Problem.

3.  Don't make a personal connection with humor and the interviewer's life.  Even if you think you can, you never know when someone's going to take offense.  "See the deal with Lindsey Lohan over the weekend?  You probably recognize that from a couple of your college girlfriends.  It's good that you guys didn't have kids, right?"  Whoops.  Too far.

When using humor, get in and get out.  Show you're topical, don't go near the zip code that is the interviewer's life and don't take risks.

See the example below from the HBO show Girls.  The interview was going great before this clip, then the candidate reaches with a joke about the crime rate going down after the interviewer left his college town.

Funny to some.  Maybe your friends.  Too risky for the interview.  Your job is to survive and advance to the next round. 

Play on, player.  Enjoy the clip, it's a gem (email subscribers may need to click through for the video)


Robert Hatta

You should also avoid F-bombs and telling the interviewer to shut her mouth...



While this video is an extreme example, I agree that humor is entirely too subjective, and even topical humor can be hard when you don't know the background of your interviewer. I find it easier to make a joke about work-related stuff, because there is some common ground there, and my industry has some fairly easy targets. I have always enjoyed trying to find a way to make people laugh, but the older I get, the more I realize I'm at work, not a comedy club.

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