Humour and the Job Interview – Tread Lightly

A Recruiter's Perspective

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Humour and the Job Interview – Tread Lightly
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About the Author

Laura Machan

Laura Machan

Laura Machan is a Partner, Recruitment Solutions for a major human resources consulting firm based in Toronto, Ontario. Although she has been recruiting for quite a few years, she still gets a big thrill from calling someone to set up an interview and an even bigger thrill when she hears a happy dance as she tells them when their new job starts. Laura lives with her family in Oakville, where she has lived for over 25 years, and is a significant contributor to the Canadian Federation of University Women - Oakville and Women in Nuclear, Golden Horseshoe Chapter.

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I had a good discussion with one of my friends this week about using humour at work, especially when you are new in a group or organization. That got me thinking about humour in an interview setting.

An interview is like a first date. You are listening and answering to see if there is a fit, to see if you get along. Do you relate to the same things? Do you share a common language or way of speaking?

There certainly can be some shared laughter in that kind of conversation but be careful it’s not nervous humour. High pitched giggles and bathroom humour are definitely out.

If you are going to say something that you think is funny, check first – is it respectful and professional? There is definitely no room for sarcasm in an interview. Even if the hiring manager seems to be okay with it or throwing out some barbs, don’t do it. Sarcasm is mean and even if it’s delivered in a funny way, it can still hurt someone’s feelings.


If the interviewer says something that’s funny to you, check their face before you burst out laughing. If their eyes and mouth are not warm and smiling, perhaps it is not funny to them. Definitely avoid laughing if they are not laughing. This can be very awkward.

So tread carefully and pay attention.

And disregard this whole thing if you are interviewing at a Comedy Club.



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