Most people don’t associate introverts with the idea of attention-grabbing impact and unforgettable first impressions. There’s a good reason for that: Whilst introverts are quite capable of being socially ‘noisy’ when comfortable, they tend to react to new situations by carefully processing stimuli mentally, before delivering a response.
It is not that introverts are shy (that’s a different thing) but that they are thoughtful. Put this into a job interview situation and it can at first appear troubling. However adept you may be at the tasks for which you’re being assessed, you can’t get past the fact that interviewers will (unconsciously) base much of their decision on the impact you make in the first few moments after meeting them.
But it is not as though being an introvert makes you incapable of making an impression. Rather, it means you need to tailor your approach to make the best use of the unique skills and traits that make you the kind of person you are. It also means taking some more general steps to ensure you are as prepared as possible for the particular trials of the job interview process.
- Make sure to take plenty of time before the interview to get yourself into the right physical and mental state to excel. Take the morning off work if you can, to do some extra last minute research and preparation. But also concentrate on staying calm and upbeat. Try doing some yoga or going for some tea and cake before the interview. And make sure that you know exactly where you’re going, and how to get there, so that you are not flustered when you arrive.
- Think also beyond the job, to the human connection that you need to make. While extroverts connect with groups of people, introverts tend to engage with others one-to-one. That means that when you arrive, greeting a panel of 3 or 4 people may throw you immediately out of your comfort zone. So instead, don’t think of them as a panel.
- Take time to make eye contact with each person individually as you say hello. It’s also good to prepare some small talk in advance so that you are not immediately plunged into an awkward silence. You can mention something about your journey, or an element of your surroundings that impresses you. Remember, while you might not always have an answer on hand – most introverts take a little while longer to form a response they’re happy with – asking a question is a great way to break a silence and show that you are interested and engaged with those around you.
- Importantly, you want to communicate the fact that you are a thoughtful, considered, engaged individual and that you have a host of proud achievements and skills that you can bring to the job. Once you get past the greeting stage, you may be asked to talk about your accomplishments. This is another chance to wow the panel, but naturally you may be inexperienced at ‘showing off’.
- The idea of bragging makes you feel uncomfortable. Instead, try framing your achievements in terms of what you learned from the experience of completing them. Put your successes in the context of what you could achieve for this new company. And talk about how you’d like to build on these accomplishments in the future.