Quiet Confidence: Interview Techniques for the Introverted
When it comes to job interviews, some of us aren’t naturals. If you’re the shy and retiring type, it can feel awkward and out of character to start bragging about your achievements.
Perhaps that’s why job interviews are notoriously bad at predicting how people will perform in the company: they’re barely better than tossing a coin. Psychology professor Richard Nisbett says: “Extroverts in general do better in interviews than introverts, but for many if not most jobs, extroversion is not what we’re looking for.”
But we’re stuck with the interview until companies find another way of choosing candidates. In the meantime, try these tips to overcome your reluctance and show the recruiting panel what you’re really made of.
Prepare a Summary of Your Key Experience
Many interviewers will give you an easy question to help you settle into the interview situation. Usually, it will be an invitation to explain why you’re a good fit for the job.
But if you’re nervous about the interview, it can be easy to freeze. Knowing that you’re likely to get a question like this and preparing your answer in advance can help calm your nerves and prepare you for the other questions.
“Figure out how you will show that your previous experience has prepared you for the opportunity in front of you,” says CNBC’s Marguerite Ward.
Inject Enthusiasm by Speaking About Your Passions
If you’re not a natural boaster, it can feel hard to project the right enthusiasm when the subject is yourself. But without that passion, what you say might leave the interviewers a little cold.
The solution here is to turn the spotlight off who you are and turn it onto what you do and care about. Even the most modest person can light up when talking about a passionate interest or a task that has gripped them.
“For some reason, it is OK to be enthusiastic about your interests and passions but not so much about your talents,” says Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic, professor of business psychology at University College London.
Focus on Potential
Another way to avoid the clumsiness of boasting is to put the emphasis on the future. It can be more effective: studies suggest that when evaluating others, we’re more interested in potential.
Give concrete examples of your ability to learn, work with others, and your motivation, and you can convince the interview panel that you’ve got a bright future with them.
Let Others Pile on the Praise
It’s easier to repeat praise from others than to pat yourself on the back. So, feedback from referees or job appraisals can help give an objective outsider’s view of your talents.
“We are incredibly influenced by testimonials and, like it or not, we cannot help it,” says legal recruiter Harrison Barnes. “Most of us give other’s opinions about things almost as much weight as our own – if not more.”
Practice Until It Comes Naturally
Like public speaking, selling yourself in interviews is going to be a challenge, but it can get easier with practice. “My experience shows that few candidates actually put enough (if any) time into effective practice,” warns interview coach Pamela Skillings.
As you rehearse your talking points for the interview aloud, you’ll get a sense of what works and what seems to fall flat. So, as you get more comfortable delivering your pitch, you’ll also be able to refine it.
In the world of job interviews, being an introvert isn’t a disadvantage—it’s a different set of strengths. By preparing a summary of relevant experiences, channelling enthusiasm through your passions, focusing on future potential, leveraging others’ testimonials, and practising your delivery, you can transform interview anxiety into a showcase of your unique capabilities. Remember, it’s not about changing who you are but presenting the best version of yourself to potential employers.
Quick Tips Checklist:
– Prepare a summary of your key experiences.
– Talk about your passions to show enthusiasm.
– Focus on your potential and future growth.
– Use testimonials to highlight your strengths.
– Practice your interview responses aloud.
Being an introvert in the interview process means you have unique strengths to offer. With these strategies, you can confidently present yourself as the capable and compelling candidate you are.