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The Introverted Interview: How to Prepare

By Lydia McGee
On September 30, 2017


Tackle your next interview with these tips. 
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The life of an introvert is a constant struggle. Balancing socialization and recharging time, making phone calls, or any small thing that their outgoing counterparts find easy can make introverts break into a cold sweat or want to punch through something.

    Aside from unexpected visitors and small talk, the job interview is probably one of the most painful experiences an introvert must face in his or her lifetime.

    In an interview, the interviewee has the spotlight. In a matter of seconds, one’s personality, enthusiasm, work ethic, agreeableness, and more are judged by the interviewer through a single first impression. No pressure.

    Unfortunately for introverts, the only way many employers have to gauge a candidate’s enthusiasm and adeptness is how they perform socially in the interview, when really, introverts best demonstrate these qualities to their fullest extent in an actual work environment.

    Here are three tips to make the next excruciating interview a little less painful.

1. Try to get there early

    If you have enough time to get there, triple check your outfit, practice some small talk, and plan out answers to some common interview questions, you will feel infinitely less nervous. Hopefully the interviewer will ask some of those exact questions; if not, use your answers to fuel other discussion. Since confidence is extremely crucial, it is best dwell on topics that you have prepared. 

2. Play the interviewer to your strengths

    While you may not be the peppiest in the room, you’re the one that excels at reading body language and sensing the ‘feel’ of the room. Actively gauge the interviewer’s attitude and act accordingly. Better yet, do enough research beforehand that you are able to ask much deeper questions than, perhaps, some other candidates would not have thought of. As David G. Jenson, science journalist and career issues speaker wrote for Science Magazine, “The ‘Contrast Effect’ will affect an interviewer’s impressions of you: Remember that an interviewer may see a dozen people or more in a day. He or she remembers those who stand out, either good or bad. Individual differences jump out at interviewers. If all they see are sneakers all day long, your dress shoes suddenly look very memorable.”

    In order to at least feign confidence, make sure to stick to topics that you know intimately.

3. Don’t overthink the interview before or after

    Take some time before the interview to meditate or whatever helps you to relax and take control of your mind. It will go to the worst case scenario. According to Scientific American, “Rumination [overthinking] makes people think they are working on a problem, but not only does rumination not produce solutions, it also exacerbates the problem. All that thinking takes up time and energy individuals could spend fixing the problem.” Focus on the positive and do not dwell on where you could have done better in the interview after it’s over with.

    Sadly, interviews are not designed for introverts. It is a quick session in which first impressions count more than a bond. The best strategy is to do your best while remembering that it is far from impossible to ace an interview without being extroverted.

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