Interviewing can be a nerve-wracking experience, and if you’re an introvert, there may be an added level of complexity. It can be challenging to figure out how to do and say all the right things in an interview without presenting a forced, extroverted performance.
Here are a few tips to help you present yourself in a comfortable and honest way at your next interview. Hopefully, keeping these tips in your tool belt will make it easier to find a great fit for your work style.
Don’t hide it
You may actually find it liberating to simply state that you are introverted.
Being upfront about your introversion may help you feel more at ease, and anything that you can do to proactively deal with those interview jitters will make for a more positive experience.
Informing the interviewer of this important part of your personality can offer more context about you as a complete individual. You can even use this as a segue and take the opportunity to highlight your strengths as an introvert and why you think they give you an edge. In response to, “What are your strengths?” your response could go something like this: “As an introvert, I appreciate the details, which is why I take great care to keep thorough records, organize deadlines, and always double-check my work.”
Pro Tip: Be prepared to respond to an interviewer’s concerns (and potential misconceptions) about whether you’re up to the specific challenges of the job. If the role you’re applying for involves a lot of public speaking, help paint a realistic picture of your abilities. An aversion to speaking in front of groups is one of the biggest misconceptions about introverts. Don’t be afraid to let your interviewer know if you actually love public speaking (or anything else that most people assume is a challenge for an introvert).
Be engaging, but don’t feel pressured to perform
During an interview, you have the opportunity to show the interviewer exactly why you’re a great fit. And as an introvert, there are plenty of ways to showcase your confidence without putting on a show.
Start by being mindful of your body language to demonstrate engagement and attention. For example, you can be vigilant about avoiding too many hand gestures or crossing your arms. Here are some tips:
- Keep your arms in a relaxed position
- Make eye contact, and smile naturally
And beyond body language, here are two more ways to bring your authentic self to your next interview:
- Allow your personality to show, which could come in the form of including a bit of flair in your interview outfit
- Find a way to weave in a story about a common interest
Trust in your abilities and you can be a memorable interviewee by bringing your introvert superpowers—attention to detail, preparedness, and relationship-building—to the table.
Ask what you really want to know
To gain a better sense of an organization’s culture and whether or not you can see yourself there, ask direct questions to determine how introvert-friendly the organization is.
Start with questions about the office setting and communication style:
- If it’s an open floor plan, are there areas employees can go for more privacy and quiet?
- Is it acceptable to wear headphones?
- Will you be able to communicate the way you prefer (such as primarily by email, through chatting programs, or through regularly scheduled check-ins)?
Since these questions are a bit more logistical and less about the mission of the organization, I’d recommend saving them for a final-round interview.
From there, you may feel comfortable asking about the working dynamics between extroverted and introverted colleagues on your potential team:
- Are meetings usually free-flowing or are there agendas and time limits to keep things structured and on track?
- What is the atmosphere like in the office? Are there planned social events?
You could also ask whether introverted individuals have held your role in the past and what made them successful—as well as any specific challenges they may have faced. It doesn’t mean that you will face the same hurdles, but it may help you understand the role, your prospective manager, and whether or not you think it will be a happy match.
Pro Tip: This doesn’t mean you should make the entire interview about your introversion! Pick one or two items from this post to include alongside other questions you’ve prepared in order to get a full picture of the role and the organization.
With the research you’ve already conducted about the organization, the interview is a vital chance for you to assess how well you can thrive as an introvert in this particular role. And remember, you owe it to yourself to find the supportive and accepting environment you deserve.
How do you remember to be yourself as an introverted interviewee? What tips do you have for other Idealist Careers readers?