Imagine you’re trying to decide which of two candidates to hire. One has all of the requisite skills, but their interview was incredibly boring. It’s possible they’re actually a robot. The other also has the right skills, and you had a great time chatting with them. There was lots of laughter to be had.
Unless you’re specifically looking for an android, you’re most likely going to hire the second person.
Using humor in an interview is a great way to stand out, be memorable, and have fun during the challenging process that is the job search. Here are five ways to take a more humorous approach to your next interview:
1. Talk to Your Hype Person
Your mindset going into a challenging conversation can determine how you perform, so make sure yours is a positive one.
Ahead of the interview, chat with a friend or family member whom you can count on to hype you up about how awesome you are. This should be the person who says your haircut looks amazing even when you know it’s the wrong look for you, not the person who still brings up that one time you spilled chocolate milk all over your pants in middle school.
As Victor Borge once said, “The shortest distance between two people is a smile.” When we see someone smile, the mirror neurons in our brains cause us to reflect their behavior. So, if you walk in with a smile, the interviewer is likely to smile back — and you’ve just started building a human connection.
Research also suggests our body language can have a huge impact on our mood, which means striking the right pose can actually make you happier. Plus, no one wants to work with a curmudgeon.
3. Respond With Stories
Answer (some) questions with a story instead of just giving one- or two-word responses. In those stories, share relatable details that add color and serve as connecting points for the interviewer.
For example, rather than just saying, “I worked at P&G as a project manager,” you can say something like: “I grew up in Cincinnati, home of the best ice cream on the planet, and I always wanted to work at P&G. I went to Ohio State to get a degree in computer science and engineering, and I started working as a project manager after I graduated.”
Now, the interviewer can follow up on only the work-related details if they want, or they can ask about Cincinnati, amazing ice cream, or the Ohio State University.
4. Ask Culture Questions
People sometimes forget that an interview is just as much about you deciding if you want to work for that company as it is about the company deciding if it wants to hire you. You can better determine whether the company is a place you actually want to work by asking questions about the culture.
A question like “When was the last time you laughed at work?” can help you gauge whether or not people like to have fun. An answer like, “Oh, we laugh all the time! Just this morning …” is a good sign. On the other hand, “Hmm, I accidentally laughed once back in 2012 because my phone headset tickled my cheek” is not.
5. Follow Up With Humor
The job search is not over once the interview ends. When sending a follow-up email, include a link to something funny that reminded you of the interviewer or the company (make sure the humor is positive, of course). This provides value to the interviewer, helps build the relationship, and says you’re not just in it for the money (even if you really are).
Humor can be a fantastic way to get better results while having more fun, and a job interview is a great time to use it. By using positive, appropriate humor, you’ll stand out from the boring candidates and show that you’re someone worth spending the workday with.
Andrew Tarvin is the world’s first humor engineer, teaching people how to get better results while having more fun. He is the author of “Humor That Works: The Missing Skill for Success and Happiness at Work” and CEO of Humor That Works, a consultancy for human effectiveness.