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The Introvert’s Guide to Interviews

An interview can take a lot out of you, so get ready to expend some energy. Smart Savvy Recruiter, Catherine Ducharme, offers some tips to keep things comfortable.

Your dream job awaits…after an interview, or two, and possibly a casual “meet and greet” with the team. Are you revved up and ready to go, or needing an energy boost at the very thought? If it’s the latter, you just might be an Introvert: someone who recharges their energy from time spent alone.

A rigorous interview process can be exhausting, but also very rewarding with a great mutual fit of employer and employee. Smart Savvy Communications and Sales Recruiter, Catherine Ducharme, shares her insider insight on how Introverts can use their strengths for a comfortable interview experience:

Ready, set, go!

Prepare ahead with answers to likely interview questions, along with some specific examples to highlight your skills and strengths. For example: your proudest work accomplishment, your biggest failure (and what you learned), how you handled a difficult colleague or situation. Try a practice run with a trusted friend or colleague, which can provide opportunity to say the words aloud and receive feedback on content and delivery.

Tell me about yourself…

An interview isn’t the time to be modest. Talking about yourself can feel uncomfortable, especially when there’s a focus on accomplishments and the big career wins. Catherine says: “’give them what they want”—which is to get to know you. You have to share information to let the interviewer learn about you, as a person, professional, and as a potential great hire.

Don’t just answer the question

In a courtroom, a “yes ma’am” may suffice, but closed questions asked in an interview need a little more. As any good media trainer will tell you, don’t just answer the question when the response could be “yes or no.” Look for opportunities to elaborate and add some colour commentary that shows the answer, rather than just tells. For example, when asked what your greatest strength is, say more:  “I am good at analysis. For example, when I worked for…”

Be an introvert

“Look for opportunities to talk about your strengths as an introvert,” says Catherine. While some may argue that we live in an extrovert-friendly world, there is room for both the I’s and E’s at the table—evidenced by the 40% of CEOs who lean towards introversion. Own your introverted nature, and share your attributes such as strong listening skills, reflective thinking, ability to connect at an individual level across organizations.

The pause that refreshes

Ten seconds might feel like an eternity in a silent room, but it’s only ten seconds. When your usual style is to reflect deeply and get back to people later, rapid-fire questioning can overwhelm and frustrate. Use techniques to give yourself time to gather your thoughts—your interviewer will appreciate your thoughtful answers. Catherine offers some practical tips to use your ten seconds wisely:

  1. Repeat the question thoughtfully—use this one sparingly
  2. Say “that’s a great question…let me think of a good example to share with you.”
  3. Let the interviewer know that you’re reflecting and need a few moments to answer.

Fuel up for the occasion

An interview can take a lot out of you, so get ready to expend some energy. Prepare ahead for the day to reduce energy burned up by unnecessary stress—know where you’re going, where to park/get off transit, and the travel time needed to arrive a few minutes early. To calm those waiting-room nerves, Catherine suggests mindfully sipping water and practicing deep breathing techniques (minus the full-yoga moves). Be ready with a smile and a firm handshake, and meet your interviewers eye-to-eye.

“To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

Be yourself, above all—the very self that got you to your interview in the first place. Plan ahead to recharge your energy afterward, and use your keen ability to reflect and persuade on a killer thank-you note!

Catherine Ducharme is Smart, Savvy + Associates; in-house queen of networking and communications professional. If you’ve ever had a conversation with Catherine, then you’ll know what we’re talking about. With decades of corporate communications and leadership experience, Catherine knows the industry—and is known in the industry—like no other.

Sheryl Gray
March 9, 2017
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