Be honest. Whether on stage doing comedy or in an interview for a job, one of the best pieces of advice you can follow is to just be honest.
Honesty for Humor
In improv, one of the tendencies of newcomers is to “try to be funny.” They get into a scene and instead of listening and reacting to their scene partner, they are thinking “what can I say that will get a laugh.”
The more experienced improvisers know that if they play the scene honestly and build on an idea with their scene partner, their honest reactions and statements will provide more than enough entertainment for themselves and the audience.
The same is true in stand-up, particularly in being honest about who you are as a person. As Seinfeld said, “The closer you can get to being yourself on stage, the funnier you will be.”
Honesty for Interviews
When preparing for interviews, many people want to know “what’s the right thing to say.”
The answer is the same as to the “what can I say to be funny” question: just be honest. There is no better answer than the honest one.
The questions in an interview are designed to find the best candidate for the job, as is the whole hiring process. If you have to “cheat the system” or give false answers to even get the position, what makes you think you’ll actually enjoy it once you have it?
As a recent post at Ask a Manager said,
“Don’t focus on giving the answers that will get you a job offer, any job offer — focus on giving the answers that will get you a job you’ll like.”
Interviews weren’t designed just to make people jump through hoops (most of them anyway), but to narrow down a group of people into the single best candidate for the job. Answering honestly is how you get there.
Preparing for Honesty
Does this mean that you shouldn’t prepare for an interview or not worry what the process might be like? Not at all.
You don’t just do an improv show without ever practicing because you know you are going to “react honestly.” You still have to develop the skills to listen and build with your scene partner, and explore different ways to play something in an honest way.
You still prepare for the interview by researching the company, finding out what the interview process is like, doing a superstitious dance to bring good luck (actually you probably don’t need the last one), you just don’t need a cheat sheet of what you think the other person wants to hear.
Once you’re in the interview, use your preparation as a springboard to answer honestly. Then, when all is said and done, the offers on your plate are going to be ones that are a better fit for what you’ll actually enjoy doing, and not something you’ll quit in 2 weeks or dread doing for the next 30 years.
Got your own interview tips? Share them in the comments.