IN TODAY'S SOCIETY, where the ability to command a room is an enviable skill, introverts get a bad rap. Introverts are stereotypically perceived as quiet and shy, and perhaps even don't like to be around other people. But we now know that while this may be true for some introverts, it is certainly not true for all.
Although recruiters and hiring managers are beginning to understand that introverts can be strong leaders and great employees, the deck is still stacked against introverts because of one giant hurdle: the interview. Even though companies across a variety of industries are now implementing new and interesting ways to determine the right candidate, the interview remains a constant.
And while in-person interviewers tend to favor those that are engaging and confident, that does not mean that introverts should consider the interview a lost cause. Here are some things an introvert can do that will not only help them survive an interview but excel at one:
1. Do your homework
If you're someone who is nervous about interviewing, you need to find out everything you can about the interview before you arrive so that hopefully you're not caught off guard. If you are already in contact with a recruiter, ask to get a sense of what you can expect during the interview. The better you understand the situation ahead of time, the more prepared you'll be to enter with confidence.
There are a number of different kinds of questions you can expect during an interview. You are almost certainly going to get a credential verification question as well as a competency question. But the ones that will require the most preparation are the behavioral questions. These are intended to discover how an interviewee acts in specific employment-related situations. And in order to answer these questions thoughtfully, you'll need to soul-search. Think back through your work history, however extensive it may be, and remind yourself of all your wins and losses. Employers want you to tell a story about a time you overcame a work-related obstacle or about a time you made a mistake and how you rectified the situation. The great thing about these kinds of questions is that they delve into real work examples, and interviewers can learn quite a bit about candidates – introverts and extroverts alike.
3. Prepare for everything
Interviews are emotionally taxing for everyone, but especially for introverts. To alleviate some of this stress, make sure you are prepared. In advance of an interview, you should think through all of the stories you could tell in response to behavioral interview questions. Also consider responses to traditional interview questions (i.e. "Tell me about yourself"), and come up with questions you may want to ask. As the saying goes, "practice makes perfect," but in this case, it's "preparation makes perfect." You should feel comfortable bringing a notebook with you to the interview that contains a few key points and your questions.
Let's say, hypothetically, that even after all of your practice and preparation, the interview still doesn't go quite the way you want it to. That doesn't mean you're out just yet. Your job references have the ability to tell your story, maybe even better than you can. References can validate what you said in your interview and provide an employer with insightful feedback on you as an employee. References can absolutely change an employer's mind and redirect their hiring decisions
If you're an introvert, you should be proud! As Susan Cain points out in her book, "Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking," some of the most important people in history have been introverts, from Rosa Parks to Steve Wozniak. When the time comes to interview, if you've practiced your responses, thought through your questions and done your research, you're going to ace the interview. Because even if you're not the loudest one in the room, you are certainly the most prepared.