You’ve bagged that interview and getting the job would be a huge step up the career ladder. But, while you know you could ace the role, you may be less confident about the interview itself – particularly if you’re an introvert who struggles to self-promote in challenging social situations.
HR and management can often overlook the best person for the job in favour of the best person at the interview. Don’t lose out to a less-qualified candidate – check out our top interview techniques, from the preparation stage to selling yourself, which can help introverts bring out their inner fire.
Preparation is key
You’ve had the call and your interview is scheduled, which means it’s time to start the preparation phase. First things first, be sure to do some research on the company before you go in. “What do you know about us?” is often one of the first questions an interviewer will ask, and if nerves sometimes get the better of you, having a prepared response will help the first few minutes to go smoothly.
You don’t have to talk for hours and you’d be right to ask for information in return, but be prepared to show that you’ve done your research. Read through relevant sections of their website as well as any blogs and industry news. Also, check out the Google News section to find out if they’ve made any high-profile trade publications recently.
Once you’ve prepared for the initial introductions, it’s a good idea to look back over the job description and think about previous positions you’ve held that could align with the job spec. For example, if the role requires interaction with the public, think of examples of when you’ve dealt with customers in difficult circumstances. Or, if the role requires a quick turnaround of work, think back to times that you’ve worked in time-pressured scenarios and have succeeded in your goals. And remember, your experience doesn’t have to be perfect for the role – you just have to show that you’re willing and able to rise to the challenge.
Finally, be sure to go over the names of the people you’ll be meeting; using their names will help you to appear engaged and confident. Plus, there’s nothing worse than realising you’ve forgotten one of the interviewer’s names when it comes to saying goodbye – so be sure to do your homework.
Dress for the job you want
So, you’ve carried out detailed prep and have a few answers prepared, the next step is to decide on your interview outfit. You may have heard the phrase “dress for the job you want, not the job you have”, and never is this truer than at the interview stage. The job that you’re applying for may not be a formal or customer-facing role, but by dressing smartly, it will tell the interviewers that you’re taking the process seriously. You don’t have to wear a suit but something formal that gives off a well-groomed air will make you feel confident and professional.
According to research, in 30% of interviews, a decision has been made within the first five minutes. This doesn’t, of course, mean you can overlook the preparation stage, but it does mean that you need to consider the first impression that you give. Non-verbal communication is vital here. While you’re sitting in the waiting room or reception area, take a minute to breathe deeply, straighten your spine and remind yourself that eye contact and a firm handshake could be the difference between a second interview or not.
We’ve gathered together a few simple body language techniques to help you bag that position:
• Sit back in your chair and keep your back straight – this is thought to give off a confident and assured air.
• If you’re a natural gesticulator, feel free to let it all out. Open palms signal honesty and engagement, whereas hiding your hands because you don’t want to reveal a tell-tale nervous shake can make you look untrustworthy.
• Lean in slightly and nod to show attentiveness while the interviewer is talking. These are easy to remember (and probably happen naturally anyway) and show that you’re engaged and switched on.
• Breathe deeply. Take a tip from actors and public speakers who know all about the power of breathing deeply to instil feelings of confidence, it’ll also help to ward off any nervous voice wobbles. Arrive a few minutes early, head to the toilets and do 10 deep breaths which will help to reduce blood pressure, stress levels and heart rate.
Highlight your skills as an introvert
Office dynamics work best when there is a combination of personalities – no one really wants to work in a place that is full of extroverts! Recognise that your introverted nature is actually a selling point. Introverts tend to be creative, thoughtful and have the ability to work well independently without the need for a large team.
Think through times when your nature has been a positive characteristic in the workplace – when listening and gathering information for a project, for example. By highlighting the benefits of your introverted character, you’ll let your potential employer know that not only is your quieter nature not a weakness, it’s actually a strength that could be just what’s needed in the office.
“Tell us about you” – an interview question guaranteed to strike fear in the heart of introverts everywhere! For extroverts, there’s often a fine line between confidence and arrogance when it comes to selling themselves, but for introverts, the issue is more likely to be a toss-up between being too self-deprecating or underselling yourself.
What you need to remember is that it’s okay to keep the emphasis on work. You don’t have to tell the interviewer where you grew up or how many siblings you have (in fact, we’d strongly advise against it). Instead, begin with your education and follow with recent relevant roles, talk about your current job and how the skills you’ve acquired there make you right for the position that you’re interviewing for. If it’s relevant, take along a portfolio or publication that could help you illustrate your skills.
Interviews can be particularly nerve-wracking for introverts, but a little preparation can go a long way. Bear our interview tips in mind, and not only will you ace the interview process, but you could even turn your perceived weaknesses into your biggest strengths. Good luck!
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