Job interviews can be daunting for anyone, especially if it’s your first interview for a corporate position fresh out of university. They can be especially challenging when you’re an introvert but, if you want to find work, interviews are an unavoidable part of life.
So, we’ve compiled our top interview tips for introverts to help you not just survive the ordeal but come out shining!
What is an introvert?
If you’re an introvert, you already know. But it’s interesting to see some of the characteristics generally associated with introversion.
Like so many things, there is a broad spectrum with no absolute defining set of common traits. A number of factors shape the unique characteristics that make you who you are, and how introversion shows up in your personality. In other words, no two introverts are exactly alike but may exhibit a range of certain elements that could include:
- Preferring to spend time in smaller groups of people or alone. While not entirely avoiding social interaction, introverts can find large groups physically and emotionally exhausting.
- More likely to act with restraint than impulse. You may tend to keep thoughts and feelings to yourself and may not be so keen to go after new experiences and sensations.
- Being in touch with feelings can make them more empathetic. This awareness and interest makes them good listeners who are considerate of others’ perspectives.
- Time spent alone can make them self-sufficient and confident of their own abilities.
Introversion is sometimes confused with shyness, though you can be both. The key difference is that, while you can generally get past shyness – such as talking comfortably to new co-workers after a few days – introversion is a more hard-wired part of your personality.
5 interview survival strategies for introverts
If they want to shine in an interview situation introverts can face additional challenges to address and overcome. Their natural tendency to steer away from talking about themselves and discomfort in large or unfamiliar settings can make it seem that they’re not interested in the job or not confident in their abilities. So, here are a few tactics to help turn circumstances to your advantage.
1. Give yourself time to recharge
Your energy levels are an important part of how you cope with challenging situations. While extroverts seem to gain energy from being around other people, introverts can find this draining.
Going straight from one demanding environment, like a crowded bus or train, to another could leave you short on the energy you need to be your best.
So, if possible, arrange your schedule so that you have a little alone time to collect yourself and ‘recharge’ before your interview. It could be a walk in the park or even just a quiet corner of your office. The more energy you can conserve and restore, the better you’ll feel in the interview.
2. Be prepared
How easy would interviews be if you knew exactly what questions you were going to be asked beforehand? Well, probably still not easy but it would be useful to have answers ready to expected questions.
Whilst nobody knows exactly what they’ll be asked, there are standard questions that you can find on the internet such as:
“Why do you want to work for this company?”
“What do you think you can contribute?” and so on and so on….
To help you prepare for an interview we’ve prepared an example list here. Research the company you’re looking to work for. Review their website and social media channels.
Next, you want to find someone you are close to and with whom you would feel comfortable practicing. You’re trying to sound conversational, so best not to read a rehearsed answer but have the essentials in your mind and ‘wing it’. Granted, that isn’t easy at first but practice, practice, practice with your trusted, patient friend/relative and your confidence will grow. (And listen to their feedback.)
Once in the interview, a good trick to give you time to collect your thoughts is to repeat a little of the question while you mentally structure your answer – eg: “I believe I can make a contribution by…” then get the payoff from your practice.
3. Arm yourself for small talk
A-grade extroverts may cheerfully launch into small talk, but it can make everyone else a little uncomfortable. So, introverts in particular can dread this seemingly inescapable early phase of an interview.
A great way to form quick connections is to have people talk about themselves and show interest. Because introverts are naturally good listeners and observers, when you ask for an opinion, the attention received is always appreciated.
For instance, try to find some little thing your interviewer is familiar with. You might notice the coffee shop nearest the office where you’re taking the interview. “I just went to the Kaffeine King, is that the best place round here to get a coffee?” Then listen attentively as they happily share their view on something other than the weather!
4. Fake it ‘til you make it
Most of us have a mask of some sort, most of the time. We have our ‘office face’, our ‘home’ face, our ‘relaxing with close friends’ face etc. It’s perfectly normal to put on a brave face and wear a smile, even if you don’t feel it. That thing about first impressions is true. And last ones. Start with a bold, smiling greeting, “Hi, I’m Bruce!”. And leave with a “It was great to meet you, thanks so much for this opportunity,” and you’ll make a strong impression.
An interviewer may see through your disguise but also recognise your effort. Ultimately, what’s really being judged isn’t how well you handle interviews nearly so much as gathering the impression of how well you believe you can do the job. If you don’t come across as supremely confident in your presentation, it won’t matter nearly as much as if you can demonstrate confidence in your abilities.
5. Own your introversion
It couldn’t even hurt in the interview to mention that you’re introverted (it’s a feature, not a fault), lots of people are. You’re not alone.
Reinforce that, as an introvert, you’re an active listener and learner. And that it’s a strength that you give things deep thought to make considered decisions. While you may not be comfortable ‘selling’ yourself, describing a passion for an industry should be easier. You’re not bragging, this is merely informing.
At the end of the day, it’s important to remember that introversion is not a flaw or something or you need to change – it is simply an aspect of your personality.
There’s nothing wrong with needing to spend time alone, preferring your own company, or having only a few friends. What really matters is that you feel comfortable with your personality and accept yourself as you are.
And, like anything, the more interviews you take, the more confident you’ll become doing them. Trust in yourself and your ability and that right job will come.
Some additional interview resources
We’ve compiled a number of blogs to help you prepare and boost your confidence in different stages of the interview process – before, during and after. The more familiar you become with proven strategies, the easier it will all become.
- How to prepare for an FDM interview
- What is the STAR method and how to use it for interviews
- How to ace a video interview
- 12 questions to ask after an interview
FDM is committed to your success
As we’ve seen in recent times, enforced isolation can be tough – with many graduates fresh out of university being plunged into lockdown. Now, as we gradually start returning to the workplace, this unfamiliar personal interaction can be challenging for anyone. So, at FDM, we ensure our graduate programs prepare you for the transition to a group working environment.
Our academy equips you with all the specific technical skills you need to step into a role and thrive. But we also recognise the importance of the so-called ‘soft skills’. From interviews to team collaboration to the ability to communicate confidently in interpersonal scenarios, we’ll help make everything as smooth and stress-free as possible.
Then, after being placed as a consultant, we’ll stay in touch with guidance and support, and initiatives to help you feel connected. We’ve got your back.