5 interview tips for introverts

We’ve all been there.

Nerves jangling, body temperature rising, awaiting the dreaded moment the door opens and somebody in a sharp suit calls our name and invites us to endure half an hour of what feels like hell.

Job interviews are challenging.

There’s no getting around it.

Most of us introverts will need to learn to how smash an interview to get where we want to be on the career ladder.

The good news is we’re not alone. Even the most confident seeming individuals have probably got butterflies and a mild sweat on. Surveys suggest that speaking in front of others is the number 1 phobia in the UK, with 67% of people scared of taking to the mic in front of a crowd. This rates higher than heights, spiders and the dark.

With that in mind, here are some easy to follow steps that’ll help you land the job you want.

Get comfortable with small talk

Let’s be frank for a moment. Nobody really likes small talk. There are people in this world who saunter around, striking up conversation with all in sundry, but deep down, they’re probably not as comfortable chatting about the weather and desperately trying to fill awkward silences by bringing up family pets, the price of petrol or the latest Netflix special as they seem.

If you’re an introvert, filling gaps and making conversation may not come naturally, so prepare in advance. Think about a couple of accessible subjects you can draw upon to ease yourself in and break the ice. The weather is a staple of British conversation, but there’s only so much you can say about it being miserable in winter and muggy summers. Add a couple of extra points to your mental notes.

Research the company

If it’s one thing employers hate, it’s people turning up to an interview with little to no knowledge about where they are and what they’ll actually be doing if they get the job. Research suggests that almost 50% of employers wouldn’t offer a candidate with no knowledge of the company a job. Before you leave home, check out the website, look at the services and products the business sells, read about the backstory and digest and memorise any nuggets about ethos or company culture. These will be gold when you come to answer questions related to why you think you’d be a good fit for the brand or what you could bring to the team.

Up-sell your introvert qualities

Let’s admit it. We often tend to think of our introversion as a negative thing, when actually, it can be a really positive trait.

Not everybody wants to work with people who are super-confident and outgoing, and there’s a lot to be said for striking a balance within a team. According to our friends at the Myers-Brigg company, 57% of the population prefers introversion to extroversion, so you might actually find that you’re in demand. Many of us will lie through our teeth when quizzed about our assets and character traits in job applications and interviews. We’ll casually add that we’re confident individuals who are ‘ambitious’ and ‘always up for a challenge,’ even if the words make our stomachs churn.

That’s especially true for us brits. In the UK, over 90% of us feel pressure to behave like an extrovert.

The truth is that introverts have a load of brilliant qualities and we need to Up-sell these traits. These include:

  • Being good listeners
  • Being Thoughtful
  • Respectful of others who want to speak or participate in a conversation or meeting
  • Observant
  • Hard-working
  • Compassionate
  • Empathetic

To quote the 1967 film The Producers, “if you’ve got it, flaunt it”.

Back yourself

Shouting about your strengths from the rooftops doesn’t come naturally to introverts, but to some extent, you have to be able to promote yourself at an interview. Think about what you can offer, what you have already achieved in your career and what you want to gain from the next phase of your working life.

Bring examples of your work and talk about awards or scenarios that have unfolded that underline your suitability for the role. It’s not showing off to encourage somebody to look through a portfolio or some publications you’re responsible for.

Remember, there’s a difference between bragging and backing yourself.

Have a virtual run-through

As we wrote further up, the entire interview scenario can be a horrific prospect for some people.

If your heart rate soars at the mere thought of sitting in front of a panel, have a virtual run-through.

Practice with a friend you feel comfortable around, try and preempt questions and prepare answers and go through some exercises to help you feel calm and relaxed. Breathe deeply, give yourself plenty of time and remember that the panel might not necessarily be looking for an extrovert.

Introverts don’t always excel in interviews, but we are often suitable matches for the role in question. If you have an interview coming up, don’t write off your chances because you’re not the loudest or most brash in the room. You have qualities that would benefit any business, so remember to breathe, prepare in advance, take your time to answer questions, be yourself and up-sell your introvert character traits. You might be just what the panel is looking for. 

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