Speak up! Look the interviewer in the eye! Ask questions! All the usual advice for doing well in an interview may not seem so easy to put into play if, like many job seekers, you fall into the category of introvert. So how do you manage to make a good impression when, too often, interviewers mistakenly translate shy or reserved into uncommunicative or unfriendly? Use your introvertedness as power, not a weakness.
Start off on the right foot.
Preparing for the introduction ahead of time allows you to feel more confident when you first meet the interviewer. Fair or not, many interviewers judge candidates based on their enthusiasm, and the calm quiet of the introvert can get misunderstood as bored or uninterested. Find out the interviewer’s name beforehand and go on LinkedIn or other social media sites to see if you have anything in common or simply discover a talking point as an ice-breaker when you first meet (and remember a firm handshake and a warm smile go a long way as well).
Do some prep work.
Introverts sometimes have trouble improvising answers to questions. Look up some of the most common interview questions and figure out your answers beforehand. Practice them so you sound confident but not rehearsed. So when the interviewer asks you. “Tell me about a time when you dealt with a difficult work situation,” you have an answer at the ready and sound polished, not panicked.
Expect the unexpected.
As a counterpoint, occasionally you may get a curve-ball: Some interviewers like to throw out unusual questions just to see how you’ll think on your feet. You may arrive and discover someone else will conduct the interview, the job description has changed somewhat, or that you’ll now attend an all-staff meeting in addition to the interview. Again, think about some of these situations and mentally prepare for how you would handle them. That way, if something comes up out of the blue, you’ve forearmed yourself a bit.
Take some time.
Before the interview, get some alone time. Introverts should aim for about 30 minutes before the interview to simply charge their batteries: listen to music, take a walk, read, draw, or just sit quietly. Allow for similar downtime after the interview where you can also review it and go over your strengths and weaknesses to better prepare for the next one.
Use your nerves as a strength.
While introverts dislike being the center of attention, and an interview is that very situation, they can turn that shot of adrenaline and ball of nerves into energy and enthusiasm. It may embolden you to make better eye contact and get your brain firing up with those answers you prepared, making yourself look more interested in the position.
Get some perspective.
Remind yourself beforehand that you got the interview because you have the background and talent they want. And don’t forget–you’re not the only one on stage. If you’ve made it to the interview stage, you’ve made it to the top of the candidate list, and the company has to sell themselves to you as well. Consider it more of a conversation, a back-and-forth that allows each of you to see if you’ll fit well together.
Companies need introverts, too – and that means you. If you do a little bit of prep work beforehand and get yourself ready, you’ll shine in your own way. For advice on interviews, visit PrideStaff.