The Introvert’s Guide to Interviews

Your dream job is waiting for you… after completing a handful of lengthy interviews, charming future colleagues at a casual meet-and-greet, and sharing your accomplishments and accolades over (and over) again.

When you consider the hiring process, do you feel revved up and ready to go?

Or does the mere thought of it all leave you ready to curl up for a nap?

If you fall into the latter category, you’re likely an introvert. But you probably already know that…

Rigorous interview processes can be exhausting. But it’s enormously rewarding when you finally land your dream role with an employer you respect and culture that clicks. Being introverted is an asset that can (and likely has) served you well in the workforce. And there are ways to use your strengths to ensure you have a comfortable interview experience, too.

Ready, set, go!

Find a list of common interview questions and prepare your answers in advance. Make a list of specific examples to highlight your skills and strengths. (And, if you’re scheduled for an online chat, take time to post them around your screen!)

Consider your proudest work accomplishment, your biggest failure (and lessons learned), how you handled a difficult colleague or situation. Try a practice run with a trusted friend or record yourself and rewatch the video. Both give you an opportunity to say the words aloud and gain feedback on your 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 big career wins. But prospective employers want to get to know you. It’s necessary to share enough information to let the interviewer learn about you as a person, professional, and potential hire.

Don’t just answer the question

As any good media trainer will tell you, don’t simply answer a question with “yes” or no.” Look for opportunities to elaborate and share stories that demonstrate the answer. For instance, when asked about your greatest strengths, say: “I am good at analysis. When I worked for… <insert specific example about analysis>.”

Be an introvert

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, and keen ability to connect at an individual level across organizations.

Embrace the pause 

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 reply to people later, rapid-fire questioning can overwhelm and frustrate. Use the following techniques to give yourself time to gather your thoughts.

  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 you’re reflecting and need a few moments to answer.

Fuel up for the occasion

Prepare ahead and figure out where you’re going, where to park/get off transit, and how much travel time is required to arrive early so you can conserve your day-of energy. To calm your waiting room nerves, consider mindfully sipping water and practicing deep breathing techniques. Be ready to meet your interviewers eye-to-eye with a smile and a firm handshake.

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

Above all else, be yourself—the very self that got you this interview in the first place. Plan ahead to recharge your energy afterward and use your ability to reflect and persuade on an impressive thank you note!