Job interviews are stressful for pretty much everybody, but if you're an introvert, things can start feeling really taxing, really fast. But there are strategies for introverts to handle job interviews — beginning with reminding yourself that it's OK to be an introvert! Introverts bring a ton to the table in the workplace, even if they don't necessarily fit the stereotype of a bubbly cubicle buddy. Furthermore, as Nicole Fallon Taylor explains at Business News Daily, "there are plenty of work options that allow for the peace and solitude introverts crave," ranging from social media manager, to lab technician, to writer or editor who works remotely. In fact, if your company operates remotely even one or two days a week, this can open up a world of relief for introverts who may function much better if they have that time to focus on their work without distractions in a familiar landscape.
It's also worth noting, however, that you can't always be choosy about your job. Whether it's because the economy is hitting you hard, you live in an area where there isn't a lot of work in your field, or you simply need money, STAT, you may very well end up interviewing for a position where your introverted nature is pushed to its limits. That's OK! Introverts can do any job.
Before you get started on the actual job, though, it's worth remembering that the interview is basically what makes or breaks your opportunity. Even if your job is introvert-friendly, it's important that you prepare yourself to put your best foot forward in your interview, because that will be what ultimately gets you that perfect fit job. These five pointers might be a good place to start:
1. Practice As Much As You Can
It's always a good idea to practice before an interview regardless of your personality type, but it can be especially beneficial if you're an introvert. Practicing before an interview gives you the opportunity to rehearse not only what you're going to say, but exactly how you're going to say it. This can help you feel more confident and self-assured when the interview actually happens. If you can, practice with a trusted friend or partner. It's also effective to practice with just yourself, especially if you make a point of saying things directly into the mirror, so you can work on things like eye contact and posture.
2. Give Yourself Some Alone Time Before And After The Interview
In an ideal world, you might spend most of your day before and after your interview alone. Why? Because it might allows you to conserve your energy and have the most "people time" built up for your interview process. While introverts are often stereotyped as not being "people-people," for a lot of introverts, it's actually the case that they do like socializing, but only in small bursts, or that they need a lot of time to recover between social interactions. Aja Frost at The Muse recommends to "try to give yourself at least 30 minutes beforehand: Leave the office early and walk around the block, work from a quiet spot in your office — or, at the very least, put your headphones on."
3. Ready Yourself For Small Talk
Ah, small talk: The bane of introverts everywhere. Most interviews have at least some degree of small talk involved, especially if you're meeting with multiple people. While many introverts (and admittedly, pretty much everyone) see small talk as pointless, it's important to prepare yourself for this part of the interview as well. Basically, keeping up with small talk shows that you understand social cues and can fit into the workplace "vibe," especially if people tend to be friendly or chatty with one another. Don't burn yourself out prepping for the actual interview questions and forget the best way to answer "What did you do this weekend?" two minutes in.
4. Research Who Is Interviewing You
Depending on the job you're applying for, this information may or may not be available to you, but it's always a good idea to do your research and find out what you can about the people who will be interviewing you. First of all, this can give you an idea of what the company values in its supervisors and what can kind of experience and expertise does well in the organization. In terms of introverts, it can also help you feel more connected to the person initially, as you can feel like you "know" the person a little already and "get" where they're coming from. As Susan Krauss Whitbourne, Ph.D. explains for Psychology Today, "Knowing who they are will also help make the situation more concrete in your mind. In addition, this knowledge can help you avoid inadvertent bloopers such as assuming they went to college when in fact they didn’t, or making incorrect assumptions about their age relative to yours."
5. Check Out The Location In Advance
If you're going to a part of the city or town you've never been to before, it's a good idea to check out the commute and parking situation before you go to an interview, no matter if you're an introvert or extrovert. If you're an introvert, however, checking out the location beforehand can definitely help you to feel less nervous in terms of actually getting there, thus avoiding getting any jitters right before you walk in the door. It can help you to figure out small details, too: Do you need an ID to get into the building? Is there an entrance on the side of the street you're parking on? Did you check the weather the night before the interview? These things may help cool your nerves in case something arises later, and we all know introverts don't exactly love surprises in stressful or social situations.