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An Introvert's guide to successful job interviews

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If you could divide the world into extroverts and introverts, cancelling a party would be a great litmus test. For introverts, parties get in the way of much needed solitude, solitude that recharges their social batteries. The perfect weekend is often free from small talk, over-stimulating environments and having to talk about themselves.

For introverts, a fate more terrifying than parties is the interview. The question ‘Tell me a little about yourself’ is the stuff of nightmares and doing so goes against their natural instincts. Unfortunately, self-promotion is the name of the game when it comes to successful interviews. So, as an introvert what can you do to sell yourself?

Let research be your competitive advantage

Interviews are a difficult process for introverts due to the lack of control. Introverts prefer to think before they speak; they like to listen and take in the environment before they contribute. This makes the research stage even more important for introverts. The pre-interview stage gives you essential thinking time. It also allows you time to learn as much about the company’s working environment, and culture so that you feel comfortable enough to talk about how your skills and strengths would fit in with their organisation.

There is no excuse in the age of cyber sleuthing not to have extensive research carried out on the company you’re interviewing for. It is a vital part of the preparation process and will help you to be more relaxed.

Perfect your answers

In your mind you are providing a perfectly articulated answer but the minute you try to vocalise these thoughts nerves and embarrassment let you down. This happens to the best of us but introverts are more at risk because their brains are wired to prefer less stimulating environments. In an over stimulating environment, such as an interview, the introvert’s brain can shut down meaning mindless waffle or complete silence on the part of the candidate.

The only way to counter this, and to boost your confidence in the process, is to practice your answers. As you talk through your experience out loud, you will be more at ease discussing yourself with strangers. It will enable you to get your head around what you will say and decrease the risk of rambling.

Before the interview make sure you have spent a few hours in solitude. This will help you to settle and enter the room relaxed and ready for conversation.

You can’t fake it

Don’t fake your experience or your personality. The minute you start bragging and faking confidence is the minute you lose the attention of the room. Instead, what you can fake are superficial things. Perfect a commanding handshake, adopt a ‘power posture’, exude enthusiasm and energy. So before the interview has begun you have already established a positive foundation which can help counter any deficiencies in other areas.

Embrace strategic pausing. As an introvert thinking before you speak comes with the territory. It’s hard to escape your inner thought bubble, it’s where introverts feel most comfortable. Don’t see this as a negative. Harness it. When pausing use space fillers like ‘That’s a good question’ or ‘Let me consider that for a moment’. Using pauses can stop you from ‘Um-ing’ your way through the interview, undermining your professional credibility and sabotaging your chances.

It’s not all about you

Try not to visualise the interview as a one man show. Instead, imagine it as a conversation, a 50/50 dialogue. You do have control over where the conversation goes. Asking questions is the best way to do this. For example, ‘Are strong project management skills the most important aspect of this role?’. You can then talk about your experience in this area. Introverts excel when talking about topics that interest them. Enthusiasm will distinguish you from the crowd so be sure to steer the conversation in the direction of your passions.

For introverts being able to give a successful interview can seem like a distant reality. Preparation will stop you sliding into your analytical shell and overthinking everything from why the interviewer is smiling, touching his ear or putting down his pen.

Don’t pressure yourself into bragging or selling. Instead, put the focus on your passion points and how the role will inspire you. Enthusiasm is infectious and while it might not come as naturally, once you talk about the things you love to do it will begin to show and all the rest will fade in importance.

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