No matter who you are, job interviews are stressful. But they can be particularly hard for introverts. Here are the top nine job interview tips for introverts to help you to put your best foot forward.
First impressions count and they stick. Research shows that those first few seconds and minutes of an interview can make a lasting impression.
With studies finding that still, open, positive, body language, direct eye contact and a smile sends a subconscious message that you’re confident, sociable, friendly, capable and persuasive. Key factors in landing that dream job.
But what do you do if you aren’t naturally outgoing and need time to internally process information before making a response?
The good news is that there are strategies that you can use to help you shine.
Here are the top nine job interview tips for introverts:
1. Make the Power of First Impressions Work for You
Whilst first impressions tend to favour extroverts who are often more naturally outgoing, outspoken and enthusiastic, first impressions can actually work in your favour if you’re an introvert. The key to putting your best foot forward is to master the first and last minute of any interaction. As it’s the impression you make during these crucial minutes that are going to stick.
Before entering a room, or meeting a potential new employer take two deep breaths. Do a mental checklist of your body language, uncross your arms legs and feet, pull your shoulders back and lift your chin. Enter the room with a purposeful walk, direct eye contact and warm smile before confidently introducing yourself.
They’ll subconsciously see you as confident, competent, friendly and persuasive. A first impression that will be hard to shift.
2. Do Your Research
My next tip is to do your research. The more you know about the company and those you’ll be meeting, the less stressed and more comfortable you’ll feel.
Before the interview research the organisation to get a feel for its values, mission and company culture. Request a position description ahead of time and if going through a recruiter, ask them for the names and titles of the people you’ll be meeting. Then search for their profiles to get a better sense of who they are. It’s also acceptable to ask your recruiter for interview tips and for what to expect.
3. Plan Your Day to Conserve Your Stamina
Next, plan your day to conserve your stamina. Back to back interactions can be draining for introverts, so avoid planning multiple job interviews on the one day.
If you can’t get the day off, try and schedule your job interview for the morning rather than late in the day, when your energy levels can be depleted and social interactions may feel more draining. Or if you can’t do that try and plan a little ‘solo time’ before your interview in order to recharge.
4. Prepare for Small Talk Research shows that job interviews tend to favour people who put themselves out there, but what do you do if that simply isn’t you? This is where preparation is key.
The first step is to prepare for small talk. Love it or hate it, small talk is an important part of making a great impression at a job interview. Now while it can feel pointless and downright taxing for many introverts, the key is to remember that small talk is about building a sense of rapport so that you both feel at ease.
5. Create a List of ‘Break the Ice’ Questions Before your interview, create a list of casual positive and upbeat ‘break the ice’ questions that you can use as needed. For example, you might comment on how lovely the area is and ask how long their offices have been there, comment on how gorgeous the weather has been or congratulate them on a recent award the company received.
Just remember to keep it positive and upbeat.
6. Plan for Questions
Answering questions on the fly can be a challenge for introverts so it’s important to plan wisely. Many introverts excel when they have time to reflect on a question and formulate an answer so prepare for common general and behavioural questions and flesh out your answers.
The key to answering with a sense of confidence and competence is to practice your responses until you feel comfortable and you no longer need to rely on your notes. It’s also a great idea to create a list of questions that you can ask as the interview comes to a close.
7. Learn how to Deflect
Interviews don’t always go to plan, and sometimes an unexpected question can throw you off your game and into survival mode. This can trigger both thought related and physical anxiety. Throwing you into freeze, fight or flight, decreasing self-esteem, increasing self-doubt and affecting your ability to think, concentrate and speak clearly.
This is where it pays to have some stalling or deflecting techniques up your sleeve.
Responses like, “That’s a great question and one I’d love to reflect on. Can we come back to it?” will help you to avoid the freeze, fight or flight response, buy time and get your thoughts in order.
8. Highlight Your attributes
Introverts can struggle with self-promotion and small talk but that doesn’t mean that you can’t put your best foot forward. Introverts tend to have many qualities that make them outstanding candidates, the key is to highlight these attributes in a way that’s relevant to the position you’re going for.
Before the interview, prepare a list of your attributes and accomplishments and using the STAR technique think of a situation where these attributes helped you to shine. Outlining the task or challenge, actions you took and the result or outcome.
Perhaps you’re detail orientated and thorough with a tendency to see things through, which enabled you to deliver a project on time and on budget. Or perhaps you were able to solve a dilemma by quietly reflecting on the problem and possible scenarios.
9. Change your focus and think yourself positive Finally, change your focus and think yourself positive. When we withdraw emotionally our body language tends to follow suit and this is especially important for introverts.
Rather than focussing on your lack of confidence or what others might think about you, focus on the opportunity and all of the things make you a great candidate and employee. Our thoughts, emotions, biochemistry, body language and breathing are linked so while this may seem too simple, it can have a big impact on how you feel and come across.
10. End on a High Note As the interview comes to an end, remember to end it on a high note and reinforce that fabulous first impression.
Do a mental checklist of your body language and exuding the same enthusiasm and openness as you did at the beginning of the interview. Ending the interview with open direct body language, a warm thank you, direct eye contact and smile, and if it’s post covid a firm but not too firm handshake. You’ll make a lasting impression and exude confidence and competence.