You may have memorized what your strengths and weaknesses are, a story about a time you handled a tough situation in the workplace, and a mistake you’ve made in the past that you’ve learned from. But when an employer asks you how your favorite animal represents your work approach, or what fictional character you think best matches your work ethic, what on earth are you supposed to say?

The answer lies in your improvisational skills.


Yes, And

Probably the most crucial rule in improv comedy is the “yes, and” rule. This rule allows you to add on to what your partner is saying, rather than shutting it down, in order for the scene to then progress in a more positive and interesting way. In a job interview, the “yes, and” rule is primarily used to give more details to your interviewer. For example, your interviewer may ask if you are proficient in Microsoft Office, or any other kind of software. Your answer should be yes, and a more detailed explanation of your proficiency with the program. In another case, your interviewer may mention that they see on your resume that you worked at a certain company for a few years. A good response to this would be “yes, and” an account of what your experience was like at that company.


Listening Skills

When performing an improv scene, it is essential to listen to what your partner is saying and pay attention to their actions and body language. This allows you to keep the scene consistent, as well as make it flow more easily. In a job interview, it is imperative to listen closely to everything your interviewer tells you, as well as pay attention to their tone of voice and body language. This will make you less likely to misinterpret a question, or even accidentally interrupt the interviewer. Also, you may be able to tell how well you are doing in your interview by whether or not their tone of voice seems disinterested or harsh, and if they are smiling or frowning. If you become aware that your interviewer perhaps doesn’t like the vibe you’ve been putting out or the answers you have been giving, you now have an opportunity to change your approach to the interview in hopes of changing the interviewer’s attitude towards you.


Split-Second Thinking

So, what will you do if an interviewer asks you a question you don’t expect and haven’t rehearsed for? This is where it becomes vitally important to be able to think on your feet. In an improv scene where anything can happen, you must be able to be prepared for everything. You need to be able to think of witty responses to seemingly random questions, what role you yourself will be playing in a scene based on an audience suggestion, and a plethora of other situations. In all of these situations, you need to be able to come up with answers in a matter of seconds. In a job interview, you’re in much the same boat. So if your interviewer does ask you how your favorite animal represents your work approach, you can think about it for a maybe minute, but then you have to launch into your explanation about how your favorite animal is a crab, and how its hard shell represents your determination and stubbornness to make things perfect.



Lastly, you need to keep an interview positive at all times. Maintain a friendly composure, and try to make yourself look good while also maybe throwing in a few things you like about the place you’re applying to. In improv, scenes can get boring or depressing very easily if the actors don’t make an effort to keep it positive. Sure, it can be funny to insult other people, but it can easily go too far and become unfunny. Lighthearted banter, however, allows you to be witty and perhaps still a bit insulting, while maintaining a positive atmosphere in the scene. So even if your interviewer asks you about your weaknesses, or about a time you made a mistake, keep it positive by explaining how you’re dealing with your weaknesses, and how you have grown from your past mistakes.