This post has been on my to-do list for a while but I’ve always worried about how to write it. I’ve finally come up with something I’m happy with, so welcome to an introvert’s guide to interviews. I’m mainly going to be writing this in relation to job interviews, but I’m sure it can be transferred to most interview situations really. So, let’s get on with it shall we?
Interviews are scary. Whether you’ve done hundreds of them or you’re new to the interview scene, it’s always going to be daunting meeting new people who you instantly have to impress, whilst showing them your skills and personality in anywhere from 15 minutes to a little over an hour. If you’re not the sort of person who finds this easy (I imagine this primarily includes introverts, hence the slightly clickbaity title) then this post is for you.
Putting yourself out there is scary in any situation, but there are things you can do to make it easier. Practice is key with most things, but with interviews sometimes your first shot will be your only opportunity. I like to put myself at ease the best I can; be early, prepare answers to common questions; plan my outfit a few days before; bring water, those kinds of things. If these things don’t make you feel at ease, focus on those that do so you can make sure you feel your best. Having confidence in your appearance or other aspects of yourself will show through your nerves, so really try to make sure you are as comfortable as possible.
Similarly, don’t be afraid of showing off aspects of your personality. Throw in the odd joke or two if it’s appropriate to do so (I’m not talking about perfecting your stand up routine here, just rolling with the conversation) or go a bit off-topic if it’s relevant to explaining something and demonstrates other skills you might have. Particularly in any ‘down time’ this will play to your strengths. Often someone will meet you in a separate place to the interview itself, so you’ll have an awkward minute or so as you go up some stairs or stand in a lift. If you’re lucky, the interviewer might ask you a question (‘how was your journey here?’) is a common one – and this is a chance to show a bit of confidence. It’s okay to be nervous and a bit awkward before an interview, but showing that you can hold a conversation despite this makes a good impression.
One thing I always do before an interview is write down anything important that I want to say. In my last few interviews, I’ve taken my bullet journal to ensure that I haven’t forgotten to ask any questions at the end that I’d thought about previously. It shows you’ve done your research in my opinion. Obviously don’t go into an interview and just read off a list of notes (unless that’s what you’ve been asked to do) but keep something nearby for reference so you don’t forget anything you wanted to say.
Maintaining eye contact is something I find really difficult, and it’s only heightened in interviews – particularly if the other person has really good eye contact! I’ve perfected the ‘I’m looking at your face and sort of at your eyes I hope you can’t tell how awkward I feel’ look, and it’s worked so far. If you can’t maintain eye contact, make a conscious effort to look at the interviewer as much as possible, and maybe try to focus on a spot just behind them to look at whilst you’re talking if that makes it easier.
I’ve touched on it already, but my final tip is to prepare typical answers. When I landed my new job, I spent a lot of time in the car on the way there talking to myself about relevant experiences. Things like ‘what has been your biggest challenge?’ and ‘what can you bring to this role?’ are common questions, and running through ideas for answers can help you out a lot on the day. Think of it like a test run! I talked over so many different situations that got me thinking, and I didn’t even need any of my answers in the end. However I think it helped get me in the right frame of mind for thinking about past experiences as I’d got a lot of ideas to hand. If you’re taking the train or a bus and can’t physically talk out loud, try writing a few key pointers down which would help you structure an answer – anything to get you thinking!
At the end of the day there is no foolproof way of nailing an interview, whether you’re an introvert or not. Each situation will be different and all you can do is your best. Make sure to eat well and drink plenty of water beforehand, and don’t be too hard on yourself if you don’t think it goes as well as it could have. You never know!
What are your best interview tips?