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Posted by Jim Fearon, VP, Hays Canada on Wednesday, May 23, 2018
According to Psychology Today: "Introverts are drained by social encounters and energized by solitary, often creative pursuits. Their disposition is frequently misconstrued as shyness…but many introverts socialize easily; they just strongly prefer not to. … The self-styled introvert can be more empathic and interpersonally connected than his or her outgoing counterparts.”
Contrary to the above, introverts can function, and excel, as part of a team. It’s easy to feel overwhelmed when confronted with more talkative and forthcoming interview competition. But there are ways for introverts to succeed in interviews as well. It just requires a different skill set – and knowing how to sell your unique qualities as an introvert to your advantage.
Prepare for the questions
All interviews require that you prepare thoroughly for the questions beforehand, but it’s crucial as an introvert. Focused far more on introspection, introverts can take longer to reflect on their answers in an interview setting. This is generally better than giving a hurried, poorly thought out response, but without preparation you chance drawing the silence out too long and appearing ill-prepared or aloof.
Minimize the risk of awkward silences by researching the types of questions to expect in your interview, and come up with base responses you can expand on. You don’t have to have your answers down pat before the interview, but give yourself several options to work from. You can also prepare ways to give yourself extra time to think over questions with multiple ramifications, like “That’s a good question, I’ll need a second to think about my answer.” Be up front when you want to take more time to think about how to frame a response – don’t leave an interviewer thinking you’re not engaged.
Showcase your skills during the interview
An array of diverse personality types can make for a dynamic, forward-thinking workforce. And the best managers are able to put people into positions where their employees can take advantage of their individual and collective skills. So what does an introvert bring to the team? Probably more than you think:
1. Relationship builders
Introverts don’t lack social skills – it’s that their interpersonal abilities are deployed differently than those of an extrovert. Nancy Ancowitz, author of Self Promotion for Introverts, explains that: “As an introvert, your listening to talking ratio is higher.” Ancowitz goes on to explain how introverts are able to not only listen carefully, but use their observations to build strong and trusting relationships. Being reserved in an interview setting may seem detrimental, but interviews are a great opportunity to demonstrate how listening carefully creates opportunities to provide specific, insightful feedback.
It’s clichéd, but actions speak louder than words – and you only get one chance to make a first impression. Be mindful in interviews of how your body language presents as well. A big smile, a confident handshake, and looking your interviewer in the eye allow your personality to shine through and show that you’re engaged. So even if you’re quaking in your boots, presenting a calm front will help you come across as self-confident and skilled.
Good listeners are far more receptive to feedback. Jenn Granneman, author of The Secret Lives of Introverts: Inside Our Hidden World, explains how introverts spend more time alone reflecting on their own strengths and shortcomings. This penchant for introspection and productive reflection is something employers prize highly. So being able to talk about a time you’ve taken feedback and used it to improve yourself, your role, or a company, will resonate with an interviewer.
And remember: even if you don’t get the job this time, request feedback from your recruiter and ask for indicators on how to improve. You never know – this job may not be the one for you but if you’ve impressed the interviewer, there may be an opening in the future you can be considered for. Especially if you’ve demonstrated willingness to take advice to heart.
Granneman also outlines in her work how introverts don’t ramble to no purpose and don’t engage in gossip. Introverts don’t speak until they have something to say, as interacting with others is incredibly draining. Consequently, they have defined goals for every interaction, and can spend time after contemplating the interaction. The same approach can be applied to an interview setting. Plan your coping strategies, do your research, and think about what you want to achieve. Steadfast dedication to a job and the ability to listen intently is something you can easily demonstrate during an interview.
4. An “ideas person”
You don’t need to be the loudest person at the table to be the most valuable. As Susan Cain, author of The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking puts it: “There’s zero correlation between being the best talker and having the best ideas.”
The eagle-eyed attentiveness of an introvert means being able to absorb their surroundings, catching the little details others miss. Which lets them make astute observations. For introverts, ideas are about quality, not quantity. Can you think of a pioneering, well thought out suggestion you made that was implemented during your time in previous roles? It’s a commonly asked interview question, and one you want to plan to answer ahead of time.
An introvert is typically self-motivated, drawing their energies from within. Some of the world’s most successful entrepreneurs, from Bill Gates to Mark Zuckerberg, are renowned introverts.
In an interview, you don’t need to explicitly say that you’re an introvert. Instead, emphasize your self-motivation, dedication, and focus by providing examples of projects where you excelled or successes you managed with little to no oversight.
You want an honest picture of a potential employer, and they want the same from you. So it’s essential that you’re authentic during the interview, but that you also recognize and emphasize your unique skills. Be proud of your personality and how you best function as a member of a team, and you’ll make a lasting impression on your interviewer – an impression based on being true to your introverted self. Want to find an employer who values you for that self? Let Hays help you find that dream employer today.