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Interview Strategies for Introverts

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Today’s author is Baruh Benjamins

Finding the best jobs for introverts isn’t an easy proposition, which is why the interview process can be such a nerve-racking experience.

Job interviews don’t come along that often – in fact, it can take dozens of resume submissions before you are able to secure an interview with a prospective employer. This puts a lot of pressure on you to present yourself in a positive manner during the interview.

This entire process is likely even more stressful for recent college grads who haven’t had much experience with job interviews as of yet. Now add to all that being an introvert.

Issues for Introverts

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One of the problems with being an introvert is that people will often mistake you for being shy or antisocial. This isn’t necessarily true. In fact, introverts can be just as social as extroverts – it’s just that introverts don’t tend to wear their emotions on their sleeves.

They also need to balance the time they spend with other people with time spent on their own in order to recharge.

Introverts tend to have a much more difficult time with job interviews than extroverts – and not just because of the state of their nerves. Introverts often come off as guarded, cold or even bored to the people they speak with – even if this couldn’t be further from the truth.

One of the gifts that extroverts have is the ability to wing it. They can walk into a meeting or an interview with little to no preparation and find a way to leave a good impression through the use of their outgoing personality. This is not a gift that introverts have. In fact, going into a job interview unprepared will leave most introverts flustered and worried.

Even if the interview goes smoothly, an introvert could end up tanking it due to the fact that they gave off a nervous vibe because they were worried about what could go wrong.

The following are a few job interview tips for introverts that will help you properly prepare for your interview as well as to help you to leave a good impression on the hiring manager:

Preparing for the Job Interview

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Find out where the interview will be ahead of time – Knowing where the interview will be held will help reduce a bit of stress. Drive to the location or take public transportation there to see how long the trip takes. This way, you’ll know exactly how to get there on the day of the interview and you’ll know exactly how long it takes so that you won’t have to worry about being late.

Find out who is interviewing you – Find out who the hiring manager or interviewer is going to be. See if you can do a little background research on this person by checking the company website for information or by glancing at their social media profiles. Knowing a little bit about your interviewer will help put you a little more at ease since it takes away an element of the unknown. And you may even find out that you have something in common with them that you can talk about. This will make it much easier to engage with the interviewer – something that is often a challenge for introverts.

Do research on the company Find out about the company’s history, what the company does and what the company’s future goals are. This will help you to align your personal goals with the company’s during the interview. It will also prepare you if the interviewer asks you what you think about the company – or why it is you want to work for them. These are not questions that you’ll want to be unprepared for.

Do research on the position – Find out what you can about the position you are applying for. This way, you’ll be able to share why you think you are the perfect candidate for the position. Doing the proper research may uncover a few questions that you have about the position as well – interviewers typically welcome any questions that you have (and this will help make you seem less introverted as well).

Write out answers to potential interview questions – One of the things that introverts tend to have issues with is answering questions quickly. Introverts typically like to think about a question in detail so that they can give a thorough answer – even if they’ve done a lot of research in regards to the company and the position.

Unfortunately, in a job interview this can come off like you are not prepared or do not have an answer. To prevent this from happening, sit down prior to the interview and come up with a list of questions that you think the interviewer might ask. Answer these questions and study them. You’ll be much more prepared to answer quickly and thoroughly when similar questions come up during the actual interview.

Write out potential small talk questions – Introverts are bad at small talk. That’s just the way it is. However, hiring managers will often use small talk as a way to get comfortable with the applicant and to judge their personality.

Familiarize yourself with your own resume – One of the drawbacks of being an introvert is that you probably have a hard time bragging about yourself. Introverts just don’t want to come off as arrogant or full of themselves, so they won’t bring up certain accomplishments. Look over your resume and remind yourself of your accomplishments – you should bring these up if asked about them. Being humble won’t get you anywhere in a job interview. If you have written references, look at what your previous coworkers or employers had to say about you – these are things you can use to describe your personal strengths.

Schedule your day out strategically – Introverts aren’t hermits, they do enjoy being around people and being social. But interacting with people tends to take up a lot of energy. This is different from extroverts, who seem to gain energy from social interaction. As such, an introvert needs to have time to themselves between social interactions. This means that you will want to make sure that you schedule your day around your job interview.

You won’t want to meet up with a group of people right before the interview, as you’ll have no energy left to speak with the interviewer in an enthusiastic manner – and it will show. If you can, give yourself 30 minutes or an hour before the interview to yourself so that you have some time to gather your thoughts and prepare yourself.

Performing Well During the Interview

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Thoroughly preparing for your job interview is fine and all, but sometimes quiet confidence comes off as arrogance, and being introverted can make you seem shy or inattentive – even if you are not. The following are a few tips for how introverts should conduct themselves during a job interview in order to leave a positive impression on the hiring manager:

Bring your portfolio – Have your portfolio or resume on you so that you can reference it if your interviewer asks any specific questions.

Dress to impress – It doesn’t matter if the company you are interviewing for has a reputation for allowing its employees to dress casually. You don’t work for them yet. Don’t go into a job interview wearing casual clothing as this will seem like you don’t care. Wear appropriate attire – not only will the interviewer that you are taking the interview seriously, but dressing well helps improve your self confidence as well.

Don’t try to be an extrovert – The worst thing you can do is to try and pretend you’re something that you’re not. Even if you somehow pull off pretending to be outgoing during an interview, you’re going to be providing a false impression of your personality. If you get the job, you’re going to be found and it’s going to get awkward. Besides that – you shouldn’t be embarrassed about being an introvert – 50 percent of the population is introverted, after all. The challenge is interviewing successfully and leaving a good impression – it’s not to try and hide your introverted personality.

Don’t be afraid of mentioning that you are an introvert – If the interviewer knows that you are an introvert, then they are less likely to think that you are coming off as bored, arrogant or shy. Who knows, maybe the interviewer is also an introvert and will be able to relate. Of course, you won’t want to just blurt out this fact as soon as you sit down – if the opportunity to divulge that you are an introvert comes up, take it. For example, if asked about strengths or weaknesses, you can talk about your introverted personality in a positive light.

Use your listening skills – Most introverts are excellent listeners, which comes in handy during interviews. You’ll be able to tailor your answers more specifically to certain questions instead of providing canned responses. It’s also easier to come off as more respectful since you’ll let the interviewer finish their questions or statements before responding, whereas extroverts are often in danger of taking over the interview by interrupting the interviewer or talking way too much.

Match the tone of your interviewer – Your listening skills will come in handy here. If your interviewer has a serious, quiet demeanor, then match it in your overall tone. If they are more laid back and are cracking jokes, don’t be afraid of doing the same. Pay attention to how they use their hands – if they are heavily reliant on hand gestures, then use your hands as well. While you don’t want to mimic them word for word and gesture for gesture, matching their tone will help them to feel at ease with you.

Share ideas that you have – Don’t hold back on any ideas that you had or that have popped up during the interview. Hiring managers love to hear new ideas – it shows that you are actively thinking about the job and the company. Not to mention that they’d rather hire someone that has ideas than someone that doesn’t.

Ask your own questions – Ask questions about the job, about the company, about the interviewer and about anything that pops into your head over the course of the interview. The interviewer is probably going to ask if you have any questions at the end anyway. Asking questions shows that your interest in the position is authentic. Besides, a job interview is about you figuring out if the company is a good fit for you as much as it is for the company figuring out if you’re a good fit for them.

End on a high note – Tell the interviewer that it was nice to meet them, give them an authentic smile and a firm handshake. A lot of the time, the last thing you do leaves the impression that lingers the longest – so don’t just run out as soon as the interviewer ends the interview.

Make the Right Impression

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Finding jobs as an introvert can be tough. They have a difficult time leaving an accurate impression on hiring managers, which is why they should spend some time properly preparing for their interview.

These tips should help to properly prepare you for your job interview as well as help you to engage more effectively with your interviewer in order to leave a positive impression.

Author: Baruh Benjamins

VIDEO BONUS: Susan Cain talks about the power of introverts

About the Author

Pamela Skillings is co-founder of Big Interview. As an interview coach, she has helped her clients land dream jobs at companies including Google, Microsoft, Goldman Sachs, and JP Morgan Chase.She also has more than 15 years of experience training and advising managers at organizations from American Express to the City of New York.She is an adjunct professor at New York University and an instructor at the American Management Association.

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2 Comment to Interview Strategies for Introverts

  • This is amazing, definitely going to use this in future as i can be quite introverted at times. I’ve just written about beginner tips for interviews.

    Kayleigh

  • Martin Serena

    Really useful. I’ll definitely will share this with my introvert friend who can’t find a job.

    Martin Serena