As a member of the introverts club, you may not be the slick small talker who enjoys taking center stage. You may also find it challenging to fully answer interview question. Chances are good you also flinch at the thought of promoting your academic achievements, touting examples of your practical experience and flaunting your admirable personal qualities. But these challenges are far from insurmountable.
With some strategic advanced planning and practiced techniques, introverts can turn away uncertainty, ace the interview, and win that job!
It’s a fallacy that being introverted is a liability when it comes to interviewing. More comfortable behind the scenes and tending towards quiet reflection, you possess an ability to listen that draws people out and allows them to express themselves freely. So your reflective nature can be a distinct advantage during an interview since it often results in meaningful answers and insightful questions.
Lay the Foundation
A solid starting point as you prepare for an interview is to review your work and academic experience digging out those accomplishments. Employers are likely to ask some questions based on reading your resume and LinkedIn profile, so anything you’ve listed on these is game.
- What were your major tasks and responsibilities in your internship, summer job, volunteer experience or school activity?
- What are your signature work-related and academic accomplishments or results?
- Describe some problems/obstacles you have faced at an internship or at school?
- What skills and abilities have you developed and/or strengthened?
- What excites you about about the industry or field you are interviewing for?
- Tell us about some important decisions you have made?
- How do you handle difficult people?
- How do you work in groups or teams? Examples of your leadership?
Review What Makes You Tick
It’s inevitable that the interviewer will ask you questions that attempt to uncover who you really are, especially your more appealing qualities. For introverts these questions often present the most challenge. It’s not that you are inept at talking about yourself, but your tendency is to keep your cards close to your vest.
Think of personal quality examples like work ethic, positive attitude, flexibility, and motivation, skills highly sought after in today’s workplace. This will help you avoid a mind freeze when asked the more personal questions like:
- Describe yourself in three or more adjectives.
- What motivates you?
- How do you handle stress?
Introverts tend to be adept at deep concentration and focus that can help you uncover the culture and goals of the organization. Your research will help you generate questions to ask your interviewer, as well as strategize answers that demonstrate how you can add value to the organization. Study closely the company’s products or services, size and growth, competition, culture and financial health. Inserting some fact that you learned during your company research into one of your answers will impress the interviewer with your knowledge and initiative.
And while you are at it, research your interviewers. Check LinkedIn profiles, Google to see if any of these employees have been quoted in the media or recognized for outstanding performance, and Twitter to find out if they’ve posted articles or interesting tweets.
Compose Answers That Tell Your Story
Make sure the format of your story positions you as the professional and competent, but eminently likable, main character. Just as important, your story needs to hold the attention of the interviewer. So keep them engaged with important details and accomplishments the interviewer will find compelling and significant.
The STAR Method can help you organize and tell your story:
S – Situation: Background information that sets the scene
T – Task: Your responsibility
A – Action: What you actually did to accomplish the goal
R – Results: The outcome—did you solve a problem or create something new?
Practice, Practice, Practice
As in any competitive event, you need to warm up. You must also practice, and prepare yourself both mentally and physically. After all, this is the only way to ensure you have the best chance to make it to the finish line and win the gold. (Or in this case, the job).
As you’ll soon learn: Introverts often perform exceptionally well with advance preparation.
Along with going over practice questions on your own, consider finding a trusted friend or advisor to act as your role-play supporter. Perhaps they’ll conduct a mock interview with you as well. When you’re all done, ask them how you did – then listen! This objective feedback can be invaluable anytime. But it is priceless when you are sitting on the other side of that desk with your future staring you in the face.
Anxiety in anticipation of an interview is normal. So consider something as simple as taking a relaxing walk the night before or morning of the interview. This small step can help to rid yourself of that negative energy. Similarly, meditation can clear the mind and welcome in a calm but alert state that carries on into the interview. Also, creative visualization can conjure up positive, reinforcing images that predict success. Want to further this winning image? Strike up a victory pose before you arrive at the interview site. Literally throw your hands in the air in a triumphant V and see how great you feel.
Sure, you may be an introvert. But you are no turtle hiding inside the shell when it counts. The interview is exactly that time when you should be ready to stand up and shine. So be ready to let employers see your skills, accomplishments ambitions!
Jane Finkle is a career coach, speaker and author with over 25 years of experience helping clients with career assessment and workplace adjustment. Jane served as Associate Director of Career services at the University of Pennsylvania where she created and led the Wharton Career Discovery seminar, and served as liaison to recruiters from major corporations. Her newest book is The Introvert’s Complete Career Guide. www.janefinkle.com https://www.linkedin.com/in/janefinkle/