It’s hard enough to find a job that’s fit for an introvert—let alone acing an interview for one. Perhaps you’re feeling overwhelmed by all of the interview advice out there, and feeling like you won’t ever quite be able to deliver?
You don’t have to be extroverted or able to do things on the fly to get the job you want. Though you might be at a slight disadvantage if your introversion makes you come across as antisocial. To put your best self forward, try a few of these tips and strategies for success—even for the shy.
1. Have a plan.
One of the most overwhelming parts of socializing for an introvert is usually just not having any down time between periods of having to be “on.” Make sure you build in some solo quiet time before and after the interview to make sure your batteries are charged and you’re taking care of yourself. Plan your day around it and you’ll show up fresh and at your best, rather than overwhelmed.
2. Do your homework.
The more you know, the more you can anticipate. Where exactly is your interview going to be located? Make sure you know how long it will take to get there and plan out your optimum route. Figure out who is going to be interviewing you and read up on them. Have topics ready to go that you can anticipate coming up during the conversation. And read up as much as you can on the company itself as well as the position you’re applying for. The better prepared you are, the less likely you are to get tripped up by any questions.
3. Remind yourself of your strengths.
Take a few minutes to go over your own resume and cover letter. Remind yourself of your accomplishments. Make a bulleted list of things you want to make sure to emphasize—especially if you usually freeze when having to sell yourself or sing your own praises. Remember, it’s a natural and good thing to do. So prepare to do it with minimal awkwardness.
4. Prepare for small talk.
Yes, the dreaded small talk is upon you. There’s no way around it. Even if you think it’s pointless and excruciating. Try instead to come up with a few questions that are more tolerable to you than sports and weather and last night’s Scandal. That way you can put you and the interviewer on common ground immediately and feel more comfortable. Write out a couple of these questions and commit them to memory.
5. Look good so you feel good.
Have all your ducks in a row—your portfolio at the ready, an extra copy of your resume and anything else they might need, and a snazzy outfit that makes you feel most comfortable and confident (and is also appropriate for their office culture/environment). Your clothes can show off that personality it takes you a while to let loose.
6. Don’t try to be anything but yourself.
Don’t try to be an extrovert when you aren’t. Even if you could fake being super outgoing and bubbly during the interview, you’re going to feel really awkward when you show up to work and everyone expects that of you on a daily basis.
Don’t be embarrassed about being introverted. Remember, 50% of the population is just like you and being on the quieter side can actually be an asset in some situations. Be yourself and you’ll find a company that’s a good fit for you. And heck, if the opportunity comes up to mention explicitly that you’re an introvert—take it! There’s zero shame and it might even help your interviewer understand where you’re coming from.
7. Match your interviewer’s tone.
If you get stressed out in interview situations, just use your introvert superhero skills and do what you do best: listen and observe. Then you can match the tone of your interviewer as best as possible without having to second guess what sort of tone to use yourself. This will help you be more comfortable asking your own questions and sharing your best ideas!
8. Nail the beginning and the end.
If you think the whole process is just going to exhaust you, concentrate your biggest charm offensive on the first five and the last five minutes. Get that first impression and then leave them with a great impression and you’ll do great.