Job interviews can be stressful for anyone, but introverts may have additional challenges to address and overcome if they want to shine in an interview situation. An introvert’s natural tendency to steer away talking about themselves and discomfort in large or unfamiliar settings can make it seem that they’re not interested in the job or not confident in their abilities.
However, an introvert’s ability to exceed with listening, thinking, and reflecting are all skills they can use to their advantage in an interview. The trick is to overcome your instincts and talk about how you are the perfect match for this job opening. It’s not easy. But, with a little practice, you’ll be wowing the interviewer.
What Is an Introvert?
While many people think that an introvert is someone shy and/or anxious, that is not really the case. Anyone—introvert or extrovert—can be shy and anxious.
There are, however, some characteristics that most introverts possess. These are:
- Needing time to themselves to rest and recharge
- Feel physically drained by large or loud social interactions
- Prefer working alone
- Have a smaller, but tightly knit, friend circle
- Prefer writing over talking
Like most things, introversion exists on a spectrum. You do not need all of these characteristics to be a “true introvert.” And, just because you identify with one or two of the characteristics doesn’t mean you’re an introvert.
However, if you find that the above list describes you perfectly, you’re probably an introvert (not that you didn’t already know that).
Interview Preparation Tips for Introverts
Introverts may find interviews challenging, even overwhelming. A big part of an interview is talking about yourself and detailing your skills and achievements. But an interview also requires you to interact with unfamiliar people and think quickly when you’re asked a question you weren’t expecting.
All of these things are difficult for anyone during an interview. But an introvert may have a harder time with these scenarios because they require you to act in a way that doesn’t come naturally.
However, being introverted isn’t an automatic “barrier” to having a successful interview. It’s estimated that anywhere from 25% to 40% of the population is introverted, so it’s probably safe to say that many introverts have successfully navigated job interviews and have satisfying careers. And, you can do the same with a little preparation and practice.
Timing Is Everything
One common characteristic that most introverts share is that being around too many people for too long can overwhelm them. It makes them feel physically tired and “off.” Unfortunately, an interview means talking and interacting with other people. Even if it’s a video interview, you have to engage with the interviewer. And that can be physically exhausting to anybody, especially those who are introverted.
Make sure you take your entire schedule into account on the day of your interview. Try to minimize your interaction with other people before your interview to make sure you are relaxed, refreshed, and energized for your interview. If possible, take the day off of work the day of your interview. Or, arrange to have someone else take care of your children if you have kids.
Of course, it may not always be possible to take time off of your current job or get help. If that’s the case, make sure you give yourself ample time to prepare what’s needed before your interview so you’re not rushed.
Ready Your Small Talk
Some people don’t like small talk. Introvert or extrovert, it’s just not their favorite thing to do. However, during an interview, there will likely be moments when small talk is necessary. So be ready to answer the questions, and even ask a few of your own.
For example, if the interviewer asks, “How is the weather right now?” don’t answer with “fine,” or “sunny,” and leave it at that. While that may be the truth, and you may not feel a need to engage more, you should. Short answers can come across as rude and unfriendly, even if that’s not your intention.
On the flip side, answering your interviewer’s small talk questions with questions of your own gives you the opportunity to take the spotlight off of you and shine it on the interview, allowing you a chance to relax for a moment.
For example, if the interviewer asks, “How are you today?” Don’t say “fine” or “good.” And, don’t say “Fine, thanks. How are you?” Instead, answer the question with an open-ended question that requires more from the interviewer. Try this: “I’m fine, thanks. How’s your day going so far? Have you worked on anything interesting?”
While the interviewer could answer with “fine and no,” you’ve given the interviewer a chance to talk about themselves and the company. The odds are pretty good that the interview will answer with, “Fine, and I did X.” Now you’ve learned something about what the interviewer does during their day. And, even if the answer is “I’ve not nothing interesting today,” at least you get a glimpse into what working at the company might be like.
Prepare to “Brag”
Introverts often have a hard time talking about themselves. It’s not that they aren’t proud of their accomplishments. It’s just that they generally don’t like being the center of attention. However, an interview means you are the center of attention. And while you may not want the spotlight to shine on you at all, it’s going to, so you need to prepare for your moment of glory.
Practice talking about your accomplishments out loud. Start by saying them into a mirror. Then, practice talking about your professional achievements to a friend or family member. Practice until you’re comfortable selling yourself to an employer and explaining how your skills will benefit their company.
Record Your Practice Session
People typically dislike watching and listening to a recording of themselves. But, as an introvert preparing for an interview, you should push past your discomfort and record—then watch—yourself in a mock interview. Having the right answers is a big step toward getting the job, but, like it or not, how you carry yourself in an interview matters, too.
Beyond the obvious (maintain eye contact, don’t tap your feet), make sure you’re sitting up straight. It’s easy to sink into a chair when you’re feeling uncomfortable or overwhelmed but don’t. Maintain a straight posture to help project confidence in yourself.
Listen to your voice, too. Not how it sounds (because you know you’ll sound different in a recording), but how loud it is. Are you speaking up? Are your words clear? When it’s not easy to talk about yourself, you might speak softly or maybe even mumble. Make sure you speak clearly and confidently when you answer.
Practical Tips for Introverts During the Interview
Practicing is great, but eventually, it’s go time. Follow these interview tips for introverts throughout your conversation to ensure you leave a positive impression with the hiring manager.
Make a Good First Impression
Fair or unfair, an interviewer makes a judgment about you in less than a second. That doesn’t give you a lot of time to make a good first impression, so make those first few seconds count!
When you walk in the room or hop on a call, give the interviewer an enthusiastic introduction. Starting the interview on a confident, friendly, and professional note will help create a positive first impression in the interviewer’s mind.
Use It to Your Advantage
Being an introvert generally means you are a thoughtful listener. It also means that you might need to think carefully about what you say before you speak. When you’re given a curveball question, or you just need an extra moment to formulate your answer, don’t be afraid to embrace your introvert nature.
Brie Reynolds, Career Development Manager and Coach at FlexJobs, says that introverts should not be afraid to say something like, “That’s really interesting. I have to think about that,” before answering. She continues, “Then, take some time to really think about [your answer]. Silence can be a scary thing in a job interview, but you can use it to your advantage to build strong answers in your mind before you say them out loud.”
If nothing else, as an introvert, a moment or two of silence may help you recharge your batteries while you come up with the perfect answer.
Introverts have many strengths that are useful in any job. Being curious, a good listener, and able to work alone are just a few of those skills. Instead of ignoring or trying to hide the fact that you’re an introvert, own your introverted nature and explain how that’s an advantage to you.
For example, you could say, “As an introvert, I’ve found that I’m able to listen to all sides of an argument and to weigh what everyone is saying carefully and equally. I’ll ask more follow-up questions if I need to, but I won’t give an answer until I know I’ve got the right one. It may take me longer to respond, but, as many coworkers have learned, once I do speak, what I say is well-thought-out and reasonable.”
After the Interview
Of course, you know to ask about the next steps, to get everyone’s contact information, and to send thank-you notes right away. But, as an introvert, there’s one more thing you need to do post-interview.
Give Yourself Plenty of Time to Recharge
An interview can be exhausting and stressful for anyone. But, maybe even more so for introverts. Just like you built-in alone time at the beginning of your day, make sure you’ve got some alone time for the end of your day. Let yourself rest, relax, and recharge, so you’ve got the energy to keep going with your job search.
Introverts Can Nail Interviews
While interviews may feel harder on some levels if you’re an introvert, it’s important to remember that you have some advantages in these situations, too. By getting to know your strengths, preparing your talking points, and using your inherent listening skills to your advantage during your interview, you’ll be well-positioned to land that job.
Sometimes, though, self-preparation isn’t enough. If you want some extra practice or someone to help you embrace and use your introversion to your advantage, consider meeting with a FlexJobs career coach. Our in-house team has experience helping job seekers identify their strengths and explaining those strengths to employers.
Robin Madell contributed to this article.
Photo Credit: bigstockphoto.com
A version of this article was originally published on August 1, 2018.
Don’t forget to share this article with friends!
Robin Madell has spent over two decades as a corporate writer, journalist, and communications consultant on business, leadership, career, health, finance, technology, and public-interest issues. She is a contributor to the On Careers section of U.S. News & World Report…Read More >
We’d love to hear your thoughts and questions. Please leave a comment below! All fields are required.