There have been countless articles on ways, across the board, to increase your chances of getting a job – network, do temp work, perfect your resume, cold call, be self-motivated, have a “winning” mindset, get your finances in order, and so on. But there’s a new secret weapon that might help. Improv. Yes, you heard correctly. Improv, as in improvisational theatre, where everything’s made up in the moment.
We spoke with Robert Richman, one of the world’s authorities on employee culture, who has been pioneering innovative ways to build company culture, including bringing improv to the workplace! Doing so, he says, enhances and affects company culture by allowing employees to loosen up and have fun. It is great for team building, because in order to be successful in improv, people need to be able to read each other, trust where each other is going with the scene, and work together to create the improv-ed scene.
But, this technique is not just helpful for current employees. It is helpful in actually landing you a position as an employee! How? Improv:
1. Teaches you to you think on your feet.
People can put a lot of pressure on themselves, and even if you go into an interview incredibly prepared, you might get nervous and freeze up. This makes it harder to answer unexpected questions and think on your feet. In improv, the only thing you’re able to do is think on your feet! You don’t come in with anything prepared or with any research or previous knowledge; you have to respond to what happens to you or is said to you right in the moment. Improv helps you develop the skill of tapping into your intuition so you are able to say the right thing at the right time, and also builds the muscle of quick thinking. When you build this skill and develop that muscle, you’re able to carry it over into job interviews.
2. Helps build confidence .
When you have successfully been able to think on your feet on more than one pressure-filled occasion, and know you are able to do it, it builds confidence. You know that you will be able to deal with whatever is thrown at you, because you have practice and experience in it. A confident attitude is very often the key to getting the job you want. If you do not believe that you are the best person for the job or send the clear message that you are, then hiring managers won’t see you as the best person for the job so they won’t hire you. Additionally, we’ve all heard the age-old adage, “Fake it ‘til you make it!”? When you have practice “faking” all sorts of things in improv, you are much more capable of going in to an interview faking that confidence if you don’t actually have it yet!
3. Helps you deal with rejection.
Here’s the thing about improv: people doing it fail constantly. Something isn’t funny, something doesn’t work, and guess what? You survive. In fact, you learn to love the failure because in learning what works and what doesn’t, it ends up making you a better improv actor. This teaches us that it’s not actually the end of the world when we fail. We learn to deal with failure and rejection in a healthier way. We’re not so scared of it anymore. And this is crucial in the job interview process, where, unfortunately, there may be a lot of rejection.
The fear of rejection can often put out an air of desperation. And desperation can be read and felt from miles away. It is not an attractive feature, and, as such, can very much lower the likelihood of your getting hired. But when you get a hold of your fear of rejection, and you’re not scared of being rejected anymore, that sense of desperation is replaced with a sense of confidence (bringing it back around to #2!), which increases your chances of getting hired.
Research shows that interviewers reach their final decision about applicants in only four minutes after meeting them. Malcolm Gladwell, in his book Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking, says that decisions can occur even faster… maybe even under two seconds! In both of these instances, the decision, therefore, is being based on how you carry yourself, how you look and act; in other words, your apparent level of confidence.
When you go in to an interview knowing that you are able to handle whatever is thrown at you and whatever questions may be asked, and are not afraid of getting rejected by the job, you walk in calm and collected without any air of desperation. This is what an interviewer responds to in those two seconds to four minutes, and the skills that you develop and practice in doing improv can help you attain that demeanor.
In the process of looking for a job, there are many tools that can be used. It seems to us like taking improv classes may just be a very valuable one!