Interview Tips for Introverts

Sometimes it seems that most of the business world—and much of our lives for that matter—are designed for the extraverts among us. Our extraverted friends seem to have an inherent advantage when it comes to hosting and attending events, meeting new people and networking, and… interviewing. Consider the following:

  • Introverts prefer to listen, but a successful interview is when you are doing most of the talking.
  • The face-to-face nature of the interview demands quick responses. Extraverts will have an answer for almost any question. Introverts like to think before they speak, and may come off as slow, indecisive, deceitful, or unaware of their strengths and abilities.
  • Extraverts become energized with people around, while introverts just become exhausted. This can affect both mental energy and enthusiasm, especially in longer multi-round interviews.

But Consider the Advantages Too!

Though it seems extraverts would have an advantage in an interview, there are certain aspects of the process that benefit introverts. In fact, some of the same things that are a disadvantage can also become an advantage. For example:

  • Introverts think (a lot) before they speak. This is an opportunity to present yourself well.
  • You are better at being concise therefore you are much less likely to ramble on and on off topic.
  • Introverts will have an easier time focusing the conversation to go in a desired direction. If you know what information you want to share ahead of time, you will likely remember it and bring it up.

Tips for Performing Your Best at Your Next Interview

1. Schedule a day of introspection. Think about your career, your goals, and your past experiences. Organize your achievements, accolades, and work samples. Consider drawing a diagram, writing an article about your career, or simply putting together a portfolio. Even if you never show it to anyone, it can help you organize your thoughts in a way that can be communicated quickly and easily.

2. Take advantage of your preference for written communication. Go one step further and actually present that diagram, work sample, portfolio, or website to the person interviewing you. You never know, they might be an introvert as well.

3. Memorize the things you want to say, but stay conversational. This can often be the introvert’s biggest weakness in an interview—an awkward conversation will leave a negative impression. One way to make it less so is to practice telling stories. Another is instead of asking your questions toward the end of the interview, ask them throughout as you give your answers.

4. Don’t forget about body language. Extraverts tend to be naturally expressive which often comes across as enthusiastic. Find a way to show you are excited about the position—smile, lean forward, laugh. Don’t try to hide nervousness by distancing your emotions. Do reframe your nervousness as excitement—same physical signs, but a different mental outlook.

Eva Rykrsmith

Eva Rykrsmith is an organizational psychology practitioner. Her passion lies in bringing a psychology perspective to the business world, with the mission of creating a high-performance environment. Follow her @EvaRykr.

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  • http://twitter.com/HSPHealth HSPHealth

    Hi Eva,
    Thank you for a good article.  I think a day of introspection is a great idea.  Introverts need to collect their thoughts and remind themselves of the good they do.  Often they take themselves for granted!  

    I also want to add that it can help to for introverts to have a good handle on their special gift(s) and think about how they can tie it to the position they are applying for.  Once they are clear, then they can relax and enjoy the interview.

    [Reply]

    Eva Rykrsmith Reply:

    Thanks for chiming in! You bring up a great point–the quiet humbleness of an introvert is many times an asset, but definitely not during an interview. Recognizing those talents is first on the agenda and then communicating them well comes next. 

    [Reply]

  • http://www.mmask.com.pk/ Jobs in Pakistan

    Yah it is a great idea, we should think about our past experience,
    learn from all mistakes and try turn into our strength. 

    [Reply]

  • Pattymperez17

    Hi,

    I have a question.  I tend to use my hands a lot when I get nervous.  Any advice on what I should do to stop flapping my hands around?

    Thank you,

    Patty

    [Reply]

    Eva Rykrsmith Reply:

    Patty I think I may have the opposite problem so if anyone who reads this and has an opinion or technique, please share! My thought is that gesturing is a natural part of conversing for some and conveys your enthusiasm. 

    That being said, if you feel your gesturing is over-the-top or irrelevant to what you are communicating, you can do what someone with the exact opposite problem might do: practice gesturing in a specific way (in front of a mirror, if possible!). With practice, this would eliminate nervous “flapping” and give your hands something to do that instead enhances your message. 

    [Reply]

    Pattymperez17 Reply:

    Thank you for the advice.  I will try to observe myself in the mirror :)

    [Reply]

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  • Kahekili

    In two job interviews I went on last year, I was asked, “Are you a people person?” How does one answer this question without lessening their chances of getting the job?

    [Reply]

    Eva Rykrsmith Reply:

    Depends on the job you are interviewing for.

    If you are applying to do work as an analyst, programmer, or other task-heavy position, by all means, answer frankly and honestly. In that case, NOT being a people person is a good person-job fit and it will be viewed favorably.

    But most jobs do require considerable interaction with teammates, clients, and vendors. If it is one of those jobs, it’s still a good idea to answer honestly, but you will also have to present a case for why it won’t pose a problem in terms of your 1) ability to do the job, and 2) likelihood of enjoying the day to day work.

    Turn the conversation towards your skills, job preferences, career ambition, and/or past performance and results.

    [Reply]

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  • VanessaElizebeth

    I feel much nervous while attending interview.Anyone please could help me out .

    Choose your career

    [Reply]

  • TikunOlam

    I love your point on “Reframing nervous energy as excitement” rather than trying to control emotions further, which is what most introverts (myself included) tend to do.

    [Reply]