You may not think of a job interview as a performance, but Cathy Salit, author of Performance Breakthrough, certainly does; and she explains why in her recent Harvard Business Review article.
Salit writes, “Just as an actor prepares the character they will play on stage or screen, you can steal some tricks from the actor’s toolbox to prepare the character you will play in the interview.”
Salit has made a career out of using theater, improvisation and performative psychology to help organizations and leaders grow, develop, learn and ultimately transform into who they want to become personally and professionally.
Salit explains that during interviews, job seekers often find themselves struggling to exude the right balance of confidence, likability, and open-mindedness. Striking this delicate balance is not only a matter of preparing for the interview in traditional ways — researching the company and developing content for hypothetical questions one might need to answer. Rather, Salit says that a job seeker should also practice the performance of an interview — the behavioral nuances one might portray while engaging in a conversation. And using improvisation can be a helpful technique for preparing for your interview performance.
But what about the traditional advice “just be yourself?” Wouldn’t performing or “acting” contradict the notion of being your most authentic self?
Not necessarily. Salit’s view is that we are both who we are now, and who we want to become.
“My company’s own two decades of practice and research have focused on what we call the ‘Becoming Principle,’ in which the tools of theatrical performance give us the transformative power to become who we are not… yet,” writes Salit.
For example, acting or performing the role of a leader can challenge us beyond our comfort zone, and stretch our natural capabilities which can enable one’s leadership potential. Limiting ourselves simply to what we are capable of now may hinder personal development.
One can also argue that a certain amount of performance preparation can also help offset the common misrepresentation we create of ourselves due to nervousness. In that sense, acting or performing simply accentuates our fullest potential to an employer.
At William Woods University, students earning a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration with a focus in entrepreneurial management, may find that projecting entrepreneurialism may be a bit challenging without having the actual experience of being an entrepreneur. That’s why at William Woods, an important part of the business curriculum focuses on developing students’ entrepreneurial mindset. Pairing this academic training with Salit’s performance techniques can help students better position themselves for a career of entrepreneurial success.