Employment Advice Column: Using humour in the job interview

Dear Joanna,

Do you have any thoughts on using laughter and humour in a job interview? I’m a big joker with my friends and family.  I love to laugh, and make others laugh too especially when I am participating in a job readiness workshop run with the Reena job coaches!  Do you think this talent will help me with winning the job offer?

Funny Interviewee

drawing of a person thinking about their career

Dear Funny,

Much of the research in psychology reports that the use of humour and laughter in communicating with others is one of the most powerful relationship builder tools that we have when used appropriately.  Consider the tips below that I learned  from the job coaches from Reena Supported Employment Service and Amy Levin-Epstein’s tips in her article on this topic On one hand, humour can help you in the interview including putting the interviewer at ease, and showing them that you are fun and easy to work with. But, and a big ‘but”, unless you are interviewing for a job as a stand-up comedian or related, everyone above agrees that you need to be very careful when using humour on the job interview.  


1. Balance humour with content.

Make sure that the laughter and fun doesn’t interfere with your responses to the interview questions and the way you are communicating your skills, experience and education to the interviewer.  Show the interviewer that you are perfect for the job – you are smart, results-oriented, team player who is flexible and enthusiastic about the position. It’s better to be serious and stay away from using jokes, and humour if you have any doubts or concerns about your use of this “technique”.

2. Be prepared.

As I have written in past articles on this subject, being prepared for the interview makes a huge difference. Researching the company, communicating accomplishments and strengths in response to behavioural questions are some of the tasks that you can do to make sure you are ready for this interview. The laughter and humour should be a secondary and natural response from all participants in that interview, rather than forced.

3. Don’t make jokes.

Humour is highly complicated and culturally defined. What is considered funny in one culture, may be deemed as offensive in another. People’s backgrounds play a huge role in the way humour is perceived. Stick to the facts and your accomplishments in the interview. The interview platform is not your stage to perform, and don’t turn it into a comedy show. Unless you are being interviewed for a position as a stand-up comedian, the interview is very serious and you must remain professional the whole time.

4. Assess the non-verbal cues

As one who loves to use humour and laughter, I always wait to see how the other person acts first. Remember, you are being interviewed. It’s a test. As you are part of a Reena supported employment program, discuss this with your job coach before the job interview. As I mentioned above, preparation is key. If your job coach attends the interview with you, then take your cues from him or her. If you are on your own, try to assess the personalities of the interviewers. Learn what your interviewers think is acceptable. If they are serious, rigid and official, then you should try to do the same. Always wait to see how they respond and act first. If they are laughing and joking, then I would respond. Let them take the lead. Unwelcomed joking or laughter can ruin your chances for a job offer.

Best wishes for your job search,



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Joanna Samuels, M.Ed., CMF, CTDP, RRP  is the Employment Resource Supervisor  at Reena with an expertise in  job development, job coaching, and workshop facilitation with people with disabilities and multi-barriers as well as staff training. Also, Joanna helps employers with diversity recruitment and selection, is a published author and columnist, as well as a certified Life Skills Coach, and certified Personality Dimensions Facilitator.


About Joanna Samuels

Joanna Samuels, B.Ed (in adult education), M.Ed, CMF, RRP, is an employment resource supervisor at She has over 12 years of frontline experience in providing supported and customized employment/career coaching, job development, and workshop facilitation to unemployed and underemployed job seekers from diverse communities and fields who are individuals with disabilities and multi-barriers. She also helps employers with building an inclusive workforce through innovative recruitment programs, as well as offers “train the trainer” courses. Also, Joanna is a certified Life Skills Coach, and certified Personality Dimensions Facilitator. She is a published author, and employment advice columnist as well as a guest speaker on issues related to employment and careers at conferences and podcasts as well as being featured on Kelly & Company, and