Improv IRL: Job Interviews

This week, one of our regular performers, Fenby, explores how improv has improved his job prospects in real life.

By Fenby

Most of us will at some point have had a job interview and I imagine the majority of us have also had job interviews that didn’t go so well. This is certainly the case for me, whether through lack of preparation or just pure nerves I have scuppered many opportunities for work in the past. Over the last few years though I’ve begun to notice a change in how I approach job interviews. I feel less nervous, I don’t stress myself out preparing for interview questions and, most importantly, I’ve been receiving a lot more job offers! I attribute the majority of this success to my time doing improv comedy, it might seem like a bit of a leap but I hope by the end of this you’ll see what I mean…

It makes your application stand out

My first point is perhaps the most obvious, performing improvised comedy is an interesting hobby and there is always a big old box for hobbies on job applications. Having spent some time professionally looking through CVs I know that the person reading your application will have just read about 30 other applications with “In my free time I enjoy reading, walking and watching television”. By itself it’s not going to get you the interview but having something interesting can really help you to stand out.

It breaks the ice

Any decent company will want to make applicants less nervous when they begin an interview – nobody gives their best answers when they’re so nervous that they make sweat patches through a suit jacket! Often the first couple of questions will be aimed to settle you into the interview. If you have “I perform comedy” on your application you’re handing them a nice easy opener which gives you a chance to talk about something you enjoy. You’ve set the opener for the interview ‘scene’ and you can even use this to begin leading them into questions about skills that you have developed through yout interets.

It prepares you for the unexpected

Have you had a situation in an interview where they ask you a question that you hadn’t expected? Me too. Probably all of us have. These situations will often separate candidates in the eye of the interviewers. Everyone can prepare a fantastic answer for “Why did you decide to apply here?” but an unexpected question can get more genuine answers from candidates. What improv comedy has given me is the ability to think of something appropriate to say on the spot. It’s the same when you’re on stage, you’ve got a nice idea of where the scene is going and then your fellow performer throw you a massive curveball. You’ve got to react to what they’ve said, find something appropriate to say and perhaps, most importantly, keep looking calm and collected! If you look like a rabbit in the headlights after every question in an interview then that could be what they remember about you, it’s definitely what they’d remember if you were like that on stage!

Finally, Confidence!

The final point I’ll add to close is just about confidence, it’s been mentioned on this blog before but it’s such an important point. Improv has hugely helped to develop the confidence of myself and others in Thespianage. All I can say is if you’re looking for a way to improve your performance in job interviews and other stressful situations and you have a free weekend every now and then, give improv a try!

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