A job interview can be stressful for an introvert as a result of having to make small talk and be the center of attention. Add to that the pressure of a potential job being on the line, and it may seem like the deck is stacked against an introverted job candidate. Not so, says Susan Peppercorn, a Boston-based executive and career coach and CEO of Positive Workplace Partners.
"Introverts assume that extroverts have a leg up on them," says Peppercorn. This often creates fear and anxiety leading up the interview that can cause an introvert to fall flat when questions are being posed. Peppercorn says introverts can excel in an interview by taking these simple steps.
"Preparation is the introvert’s best friend," says Peppercorn. Review the job description closely so you go into the interview with a strong understanding of the job you’re interviewing for. Learn as much as you can about the company. Take a test run to the company's office so you know exactly how long it will take you to get there, where you will park, and where the entrance is to alleviate anxiety on the day. Write down and practice common interview questions. "Introverts aren’t the best on their feet," says Peppercorn. Practicing responses will help ensure answers are ready.
Introverts often hate having to talk about themselves, as they see all self-talk as "bragging," but Peppercorn says introverts need to remind themselves that talking about accomplishments isn’t the same as bragging. "When you talk about yourself with very high regard without any information to back it up, that’s bragging. But when you’re talking about an accomplishment, it’s a fact," she says.
Peppercorn recommends that introverts learn to become fantastic storytellers. Go through your resume and think about times when you solved a problem, overcame a challenge, learned a new skill, or collaborated with a team, then tell the story as through you’re talking about it to a friend.
Make sure you arrive early to have some alone time before the interview. "Interviews for introverts are more draining than they are for extroverts," says Peppercorn. Spend a few minutes before your interview by yourself so you can recharge your batteries and be fresh for your interview. Peppercorn recommends introverts not jam a bunch of social activities into the day before an interview, as these activities will cause you to be more drained.
Introverts often fear networking events and interviews simply because they hate small talk. But that little bit of small talk before and after an interview can increase your likability factor and make you stand out. While extroverts typically have no problem engaging in small talk on their feet, introverts may want to take some time to prepare their small talk.
Find out who you’re interviewing with and look them up online to try to find out something you have in common. Those commonalities can serve as great opening lines before launching into the interview.
Introverts have many great qualities: They are typically great listeners and critical thinkers, and can be great leaders. Understanding your power as an introvert may help you to gain confidence in your interview. You may want to pick up a copy of Susan Cain’s book Quiet for a quick confidence boost.