Job interviews can be one of the scariest parts of an adult’s life, but for introverts they can be downright terrifying. Many of us know what to do, but we may find it hard to put that knowledge into practice.
If you’re an introvert, you may be tempted to consider that a weakness, but it can actually be a strength and shifting your mindset regarding who you are will be your first step in overcoming the interview process.
Introverts may be those who struggle with conversations, feel drained after social interaction, do their best thinking alone, or gain energy from being on their own. This can make them seem shy, aloof, or haughty, but those who know introverts can attest that these qualities are not necessarily true.
Introverts are often thoughtful, well-spoken when asked their opinion (which they don’t necessarily offer freely without being asked), and can view situations from many angles as they are usually experts in observing people.
The following five tips are targeted directly at introverts, to help you feel comfortable during your next job interview! With these five tools under your belt, you will be able to clearly showcase your talents and gifts to your future employers!
1. Get to know the company and the job description personally before the interview.
When you walk through that interview door, you want to feel like you’re walking into a room of old friends. How is this done? By using one of the great introvert superpowers – observation!
Read as much as you can about the company, their employees, and the person who will be hiring you. Do they have a blog? Books? Other publications? Become so familiar with their tone and priorities that you feel like you have a personal connection with them before entering the room.
Another tip is to study the job description and do some mindset work on it. What exactly does this company need in the role they are trying to fill? And how are you going to provide the answer to those needs? The time spent thinking along these lines will boost your confidence in yourself and in their need for your services!
2. Role-play with a friend (or stranger) beforehand.
A great way to prepare for the interview, once you’ve done your research, is to role-play the interview with friends or even strangers. Some of the pressure will be lifted off, knowing that this is a test run, but it will still give you a great look into your preparedness and your weaknesses during the interview process.
Practising with a friend is a great place to start if you’re particularly nervous or worried about the interview. After that, practising with a friend of a friend (or another random stranger you’re able to find) could be the next best thing to conducting the interview itself.
3. Carefully arrange your time before the interview.
One of the biggest social needs for introverts is the ability to build up energy for social settings and to unwind from them afterwards. An interview is going to take a large toll on your stamina, so make sure that your energy reservoir is full going into the interview.
Spend a few hours before the interview doing things that calm you–reading a book, enjoying a quiet meal, or simply ‘people watching’ near your interview location. Let this time energize you, and protect it from outside influences like your current job (maybe take a few hours off work, if possible) or relationships, who may not understand your need for re-energizing. Also, protect this time from other influences like social media, which could “feel” like alone time, but is still engaging in social situations and could drain your relational energies.
4. Brainstorm three conversation-starting questions.
After researching the company, come up with 2-3 conversation starting questions that go beyond the typical weather comments. Instead of asking about the weather, inquire about the interviewers’ favourite things to do in this season and area. Instead of asking a generic question about plans for the weekend, ask if there are any must-see places in the neighbourhood that they can recommend while you’re in town for the interview.
These questions will give you fuel should you ever feel the need to provide some conversation, and it will show that you have personality and the ability to make small talk without going overboard.
5. Start off with a strong greeting, and make sure to capitalize on your introvert abilities.
No matter your personality, a strong first impression is a must for every single interview. A good handshake, greeting, and eye contact will guarantee that your interviewer will start off the talk with a positive impression–and the opposite is true. Failing to make eye contact, mumbling, and a weak handshake are all ways to start off the interview on a very bad foot. These are all skills that are attainable to anyone, and can be practised until perfected.
During the interview, use your introvert skills to your advantage. As you study and observe your interviewers, attempt to match and mimic their body language and mood. If they are using lots of hand gestures and warm facial expressions, respond similarly. If they are more formal and calm, feel free to keep that tone.
Don’t be afraid of pauses and taking time to gather your thoughts. Quiet spaces always seem longer than they actually are, especially when we are the ones responsible for responding. If longer than a pause is needed, feel free to communicate that it was a great question, and you would like a few moments to think about your answer.
As you use your knowledge of the job posting and company, make sure to communicate what a good fit you are for the company, in all your introvert glory. You save time by preferring email and written communication over face-to-face chatting, but when needed, you can work well one-on-one with problem-solving and to-the-point communication.
These qualities are valuable in an employee, and your interviewers will recognize that. Don’t be afraid to highlight these introvert strengths, while still communicating a realistic idea of who you are and how you work.
Does this list seem daunting? It’s very doable–just give it time! Start off with step number one and see how far you can get in a week or two. Spend some time doing “practice” interviews for companies you’re applying to, and by the time an interview comes up, you’ll already be well on your way to a comfortable interview.
In the end, practice makes perfect, and the only way to get real interview experience is just to do it! You can take comfort in the fact that the perfect company for you will recognize your skills and strengths, while still allowing you the freedom to be who you are and work however you work best!