What Every Introvert Needs To Know Before An Interview

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Even the most dashing and fearless candidates lose their cool before a job interview. Second-guessing how or what you should say is more common than you might think. So, what is it? Why do we shrink back, doubt, become nervous and question if our best is good enough?

Often, feeling nervous or apprehensive is what a more introverted personality might experience. Formal, face-to-face meetings can be awkward and trying. Candidates may feel nervous and avoid eye contact, speak quieter or faster than normal or experience their mind going blank when attempting to respond. What is a candidate to do?

One approach is to try creating strategies and processes that help you remember what you want to say. This might take more effort on your part – you may have to prepare more thoroughly. Begin by identifying how you qualify for the position you are interested in. For every qualification, write or type a list of examples. Spend time thinking, researching and reflecting on the value you possess and will bring to the position. What are, without a doubt, your proficiencies and competencies?

Rather than trying to think up your responses in the moment, in the interview – consider investing time and dollars to work with an interview coach or career center to help you describe and determine why you are qualified. Those who specialize in career and interview coaching are experts at drawing out and identifying your strongest and most positive qualities. Additionally, outside expertise can help organize your information and work with you to understand the type of responses the interviewers are looking for.

If you are a quieter or introverted personality, consider using your personality characteristics to describe your strengths. Below is a collection of positive traits introverts possess, add these to your list of strengths and qualities you are compiling about yourself:

  • Introverts feel comfortable working independently and are self-motivated.
  • Introverts are more insightful, creative and contribute unique perspectives.
  • Introverts are good communicators and attentive listeners. It may be that they feel more comfortable listening than speaking. They tend to choose their words wisely. According to Beth Buelow, author of The Introvert Entrepreneur, “We only speak when we have something to say, so there is a higher chance that we will have an impact with our words.”
  • Introverts are powerful observers. Rather than verbally engaging, an introvert might choose to stay back and observe.
  • Introverts are adept at problem-solving.

Another suggestion is to get creative while preparing for your interview. Try to choose words and phrases to describe your strengths and qualifications that are not the same cookie-cutter phrases that every other candidate uses, like; good communicator, possessing good leadership skills, or being a team-player. These over-used phrases are too broad and basic – also, aren’t those skills every candidate should possess? Those are the required qualifications for most jobs. Use descriptions that are more complex and more closely portray who you are. Thesaurus.com is a great resource, as is just reading through books or online content. Think outside the box to build and communicate how and why you qualify. Articulate and give specifics; Here are some words I’ve chosen to substitute for those commonly used descriptors; good communicator, good leadership ability:

Instead of “Good Communicator”, substitute:

  • That you articulate well and are succinct – you can clearly express your thoughts, arguments, and ideas clearly and effectively.
  • You speak emphatically – when the situation calls for it, you can convey your position firmly and clearly.
  • That you have solid writing experience, (if you have). You can address any journalism experience – you could mention proofreading, editing or strong command of grammar.

Instead of “ Leadership Ability”, substitute:

  • That you managed
  • Initiated – how did you initiate, what did you initiate?
  • Directed – How many employees were you responsible for?
  • Administered
  • Guided
  • Piloted – What was the project you piloted? How did you get funding? What was the timeline?
  • Headed (up)
  • Executed

In conclusion, most everyone struggles with face-to-face interviews, in some capacity. But it may be that an introverted candidate might experience a bit more distress. Solid preparation or reaching out to an expert or exploring resources is an approach that can tremendously help the introvert feel more in control of their information. Managers and interviewers can improve their process by educating themselves on different personality types and listening to the candidates before quickly labeling or judging.

It’s as important for both the introvert and interviewer to recognize their abilities and contributions. It is the introvert’s challenge to understand and then communicate their value so the interviewer can recognize and appreciate the impact their talents can have on the team.

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