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Job interviews are terrifying. There is no other way to put it. I find them to be a surreal and an unrealistic experience. For me, like for so many others who are of a quieter disposition or feel socially anxious, the idea of selling yourself to a stranger as their next employee can trigger negative physical reactions and ultimately loose you the job offer. However, many good interviewers understand the stresses caused by such a meeting and know that you might not be at your best. When I go for job interviews, I try to focus on these three main steps to help focus my mind:
Being well prepared
Preparation is the key to a successful interview experience. This is especially true for those of us who are more introverted. This time is not just for practising your responses to questions you might be asked during the interview. Take the opportunity to tap into your natural ability for research, gaining insight on the person you’ll be talking to as well as the company. Social media is great for this.
“My anxiousness stops me from making connections with others. I call it performance anxiety, where I have social skills to use but when I really need them, I choke”
You also have the opportunity to mentally prepare yourself for the experience. Take the time to understand how and why you react in the ways that you do e.g. wanting to shy away, sweating, fiddling, even hiding behind your interview mask. I hide behind the mask and most of my feedback is that I do not put enough of myself into the interview. Knowing how you respond in difficult situations means that you can develop new strategies to use so you feel calmer and break away from your reaction trend.
Some introverts find that being around lots of people drains their energy. If this is like you then consider what you could do to limit these effects. Could you arrange your interview day so that you have some ‘you time’? Maybe take the whole day off work or plan meetings to allow you time both before and after the interview. Giving yourself enough energy for the interview will help you show the interviewer that sparkle in you they want to see.
Owning your introversion
“Introversion seems to disqualify me for many desirable jobs”
Interviews that I have attended always seem to require making dreaded small talk. In many situations, I feel that small talk is pointless but this is the one time that you cannot skip it. It builds the foundations for a good relationship with the interviewer and shows that you are friendly, personable and human. If this is not something that you are confident with, plan some casual questions that you could ask alongside your more professional ones. Ask something that you could talk easily about if the questions are asked of you in return. Engage with the interviewer and focus on the questions asked; be interested in your interviewer and their experience of working here, after all, many people do love to talk about themselves (even if that’s not true for you). No matter how much you might hate making small talk, remember the ultimate purpose of this is to allow them to see a part of you – it’s a great opportunity for your listening skills and interest in others to shine.
In your interview, remember all the strengths that you have because of your more introverted personality and don’t try to be something you’re not or feel ashamed. The person sat opposite you in his crisp white shirt and shiny shoes could be introverted too. There is no need to hide who you are from the interviewer; instead, highlight the positive aspects of your introverted gift and use it to your strength. Many introverts are natural listeners and can easily notice obstacles through gathering information before making an impactful contribution to a team. Be proud of your introversion!
Drawing the interview to a close
The end of an interview is just as important as the start. You have made a good impression and now leave on a high. You might normally feel uncomfortable with exiting situation. Make a graceful exit by thanking the interviewer for their time with a smile on your face.
After the interview, take time for yourself; change your clothes and have a cup of tea. The worst thing that you can do is to focus on anything that went not according to plan or over analyse what the interviewer has said. Remember you are your own worst critic. The trust is you do not know what anyone else is thinking so try to avoid falling into that trap. Focus on the good – write a list if you need to – and build your self-confidence from the positives of your experience. Remember that even going for a job interview is a huge success for many of us!
Believe in yourself and embrace your introversion. You have the quiet power within you to find the perfect job with the perfect team.