The Introverted Job Seeker: Pros and Cons

As an introvert you find interviews a real challenge.  But there’s hope.  Play to your strengths and minimize your liabilities.  Here are some tips…

Let me begin by saying I’m not a licensed counselor.  Nor am I suggesting introverts are any better or worse than extroverts.  Each has its own pros and cons.  Next week I’ll explore extroverts.

As an introvert it can take you a bit longer to warm up to someone or to a situation.  That presents a challenge when an employer is judging you in two primary areas:  competency and culture fit.  If you come across as shy and reserved, even though you might be highly qualified, your personality could be a potential negative in the eyes of the employer.  And, if that first interview doesn’t go well, there likely won’t be that second chance.

When I work with introverted clients I try to get them to realize how a simple technique can help them elevate their enthusiasm level.  I ask them what they like to do for fun.  As they speak about their joys and passions their voice picks up and their facial expression changes.  I say, “See how you are in talking about your passions?  Try capturing a bit more of that when talking to the employer.”

Make use of verbal cushions to help yourself sound more conversational.  Rather than answering their question with a question, insert a cushion along the lines of, “I’ve not been asked that question before.  Help me understand what part of xyz you’re asking about, so I can address your question.”

Introverts have several advantages.  They tend to be better prepared, more detail-oriented.  They are thinkers, often content to let others do the talking while they do their processing.  That’s a plus!  You won’t be cutting off the employer in mid-sentence because you think you have a great answer.

Use that preparedness.  Let them you know you’d researched their organization, then pose a thought-provoking open-ended question or two.

Don’t be afraid to address the elephant in the room – you’re uncomfortable and perhaps nervous during interviews.  This tactic has its risks, though I suspect employers can appreciate your candor.  After all, you’re not the only person who feels that way.

Try this if you’re asked about your “weaknesses.”  Tell them what you aren’t, then tell them what you are.  With a smile, say, “If you’re hiring for a public relations director, I’m not your person.  But if you’re looking for a skilled (position name), that’s my background and strength.”  You might add, if appropriate, that you recognize public speaking as an area for improvement… and that you’ve signed up with the local Toastmasters chapter.

Being prepared and knowing your strengths/liabilities should hopefully give you that quiet confidence.  Remember to smile and maintain good eye contact.  Interviewing can sure be nerve-wracking, but it’s a great chance to demonstrate not only your skills, but your personality and character.  Good luck!