An introvert’s guide to acing interviews

If you’re an introvert you have to view Susan Cain’s TED talk about the Power of Introverts. In this passionate talk, Susan argues that introverts bring extraordinary talents and abilities to the world, and should be encouraged and celebrated. It’s just under 20 minutes but worth every second. It will make you feel great about your beautiful introverted self.

In my realm at work this often comes up as an issue in job interviews. Frequently the position itself does not require an outgoing personality; however, many interviewers are very influenced by the candidate’s ability to present themselves in an impressive manner. Overwhelmed by first impressions they may have already made their decision at the floppy handshake and from there on the rest of the interview is just about validating that first impression.

Let’s face it, you’re probably never going to enjoy interviews, but you certainly won’t be able to avoid them either. That’s why you need to learn how to prepare for interviews with your introvert strengths and tendencies in mind. So, dear introverts, here is a simple guide to jumping over the interview hoop and into your dream job. This is mostly about preparation and practice; reducing anxiety by minimizing the unexpected.

PLAN

  • Know where you’re going – look up the location of the interview well in advance and plan your route.
  • Schedule wisely. Leave yourself enough time to get there even if you get stuck in some traffic.
  • Plan your outfit for the interview and have it all ready the night before. Make sure to choose something that you feel fabulous (yet comfortable) in.
  • Print your resume. Have your portfolio ready. Charge your cell phone battery – all the night before.

 PREPARE

  • Go over your resume and put together a verbal 2 minute summary of your work history.
  • As you go over your job history think about 3-4 good stories demonstrating your accomplishments. These could be situations where you solved a problem, suggested a new way of doing something, achieved a result beyond expectations. Write your stories down (point form is fine)
  • Go over your portfolio and know your projects. Specifically you should know your contribution to each project. Think about which projects you will be presenting in what order and why.
  • Go over some sample interview questions and think about your answers to these questions
  • Figure out your salary expectations and how you would answer when asked about salary and start date.
  • Prepare some questions about the company, the department, the position etc.

PRACTICE

  • Enlist a friend or family member to help you with practicing for an interview.
  • Once you have all of the answers written down, practice answering these questions. I would not recommend memorizing an answer but rather the main story/idea and practice telling your story or answering the questions naturally. As you’re preparing for the interview you are diminishing the chances of having to come up with spontaneously brilliant answers on the spot.
  • Role play the interview from beginning to end to give you a good sense of what it will be like at the interview.
  • Practice a good handshake. Try it with your friends and get their honest, but gentle, feedback.
  • Practice small talk. As you go about your day make a quick note every time a topic comes to mind. Have some topics handy to use when needed.
  • Practice showing enthusiasm for the job. Being animated is not the only way to show enthusiasm. Since you have researched the company and know quite a bit about it now, show your enthusiasm for the job by using that knowledge to ask smart questions and incorporate that knowledge into your conversation. Your interest in the company will come through, your way.

Don’t forget to smile. Have a song that pumps you up? Play it on the way to the interview and have trust in what you have to offer this company.

Seems like a lot of work? It is. But while we can’t eliminate the unknown altogether from an interview process we can prepare in advance to elevate confidence levels

For more tips for introverts visit Self Promotion for Introverts.

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