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by Darren Held

We’ve all been there before. You spend hours brainstorming questions that are likely to be asked during the interview. You scour the internet and read every book that tells you the best responses for each question. You even do the dreaded deed and ask your overly-critical father-in-law to help you rehearse your responses. Nothing that you do is ever acceptable to him, so you feel confident when he actually thinks your responses are good.

The big day comes. Dressed in your best, you are beyond prepared. It’s three-quarters of the way through the interview and you are on fire. You’re nailing every question and Ms. HR Manager is grinning at you like a Cheshire cat. Meow!

And then it happens. You’re asked a question you weren’t prepared to address. Something off-the-wall, like, “What will your headstone say once your six feet under?” Ms. HR Manager smiles at you, knowing she tossed you a doozy. You smile politely, buying more time to formulate a response. Thirty seconds later, you’re still smiling, hoping something clever comes to you. Ms. HR Manager is no longer smiling. Now she’s straight up creeped out and you’re turning red as a beet. Suddenly, the interview comes to a screeching halt. Ms. HR Manager gives you a handshake with her fingertips, shows you to the door, and you never hear from the organization again. Not even a rejection letter.

Yeah, painful, we know.

Now, to be fair to Ms. HR Manager, she was in your court all along. She threw a wrench into your well oiled machine to see how quickly you think on your feet, how well you can adapt to the unexpected. And you, my friend, failed. But don’t beat yourself up, it’s a common problem. And we’re here to help.

A simple way to prevent this from happening again is to learn adaptability – the art of going with the flow. Think Gumbi. Not so much being green and cruising around with a horse, but being flexible. Situations will never go exactly how we hope. Learning to be comfortable with the unexpected will certainly help you deal with ‘em. And while we’re big fans of public schools, this ain’t a lesson you’ll find in a textbook. It only comes with practice, and that’s where Held2gether can help.

Flexibility and adaptability are basic lessons learned in improv. Nothing in improv is scripted. Yes, you read that right – zip, zero, zilch, nada. That means everytime you come to improv class, you’ll be given a new situation and you’ll learn to deal with it. In effect, you’re creating your own reality. And unlike a job interview, the stakes in improv class do not impact your career. Held2gether offers a safe space for you to learn and grow.

Just so that there’s no misunderstanding, we’re not suggesting that you do not prepare for the interview by anticipating questions and formulating killer responses. What we are suggesting is that improv be a part of your preparation process. Then you’ll be ready for the expected and the unexpected, too.

So sign up for an improv class with Held2gether. All you’ve got to lose is the awkward silence when you get a stumper interview question.

Darren Held
About Darren Held
Darren is the CEO and Creative Director of Held2gether, Improv for LIfe. He has been teaching and performing improv for 15 years, and has performed with H2g, the Groundlings, UCB and Second City. He loves Moto, red wine, and Madonna.

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