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Fortunately, it has been a long time since I have had to interview for a job. I have done a lot of hiring in the last few years and am in the middle of hiring for several different positions at the moment. I know that I have struggled with being interviewed, but this was before I really understood my introversion. Now that I have been on the other side of the table, I am certain I have become a better interviewee through my experience in hiring many people over the last several years, and having a better understanding of myself. I have learned many tips and tricks from being on the employer side of the table. While I hope to not need these interview skills myself for a very long time, I’ll share them here for those who are currently in the process of searching for a job.
I interviewed a candidate the other day that seemed very qualified on paper, but was not impressive in the interview. Her answers were very short and, even with a little prodding from me and the other interviewer, her answers remained short. She was out-shined by most of the other candidates. I also know from my own experience of being interviewed in the past and conducting many interviews myself, the best interviewers do not always make the best employees. Sometimes those that struggle with interviews actually make the best employees. But if you can’t help the employer see why you are the most qualified candidate, you probably won’t get the chance to be that best employee.
If you are someone who struggles with interviews because of your introversion, there are some things you can do to more be prepared and become better at the interview process.
1. Prepare, prepare, prepare. Take the time to research the position. Know what your job would be and know how your skills would benefit the organization. Find out as much as you can about the company. I am always surprised when people take the time to apply and interview, but don’t take the time to learn about the position or the company. Most of the time, this information is readily available online. Knowing about the company and understanding the position you are applying for can be a great opportunity to make yourself competitive by showing that you took that extra initiative.
2. Bring your passion and your skills. What are you excited about? And what excites you about the position? What strengths do you have that will be a great fit and make you a better candidate than someone else for this job? I would not personally be described as charismatic or gregarious, and definitely not bubbly, but I do have passion and I have learned to explain with an “introverted enthusiasm” those things that I care about and am good at.
3. Take your time. In past interviews, I have been so nervous that I have rushed through answers or my answers have been too short. I know that as an employer, I would rather have a little pause from a candidate and hear a great answer than have someone rush and miss a crucial point that demonstrates their ability to succeed in the job. Take your time, elaborate on your answers, and remember to share those great things you have to offer. If you need a moment to think, just say something like, “give me a moment to think about that.”
4. Practice and more practice. Look at interview questions and tips online. Get some stories in your head about yourself. Think of a time when you gave excellent customer service, came up with an innovative idea, or played a critical role on a team. Look at many questions and come up with many stories. Write them down or practice them out loud. The important thing is to get several examples ready in your head. When you are asked a question during an interview, especially as an introvert, it is easier to find the answer in the “example bank” you’ve stored in your brain than trying to come up with something new on the spot.
5. Don’t give up. Every interview may not be perfect, but if you don’t get one job, treat that interview as practice. Instead of beating yourself up, think of how you can do better. The very first interview I had in my current field, I totally bombed. I was not prepared. But I used it as a learning experience and was so much better prepared for the next one, and the next one. It took a few “practice interviews” for me to find the right position. And now, many years later, I am the one doing the interviews.
If you are looking for a job now or in the near future, I wish you the best of luck. Please don’t ever get discouraged. Keep learning, keep improving, and keep up the hard work. It will pay off!