Posted on 1/02/2021 by Renae Sullivan
Interviewing an introvert
When we think of a successful interview, we tend to naturally envisage an interviewee who makes a great first impression and is outwardly expressive and confident in selling their skills. However, there is just as much talent to be found within a person that may initially present as quiet, shy or awkward. Here are some tips for both the interviewer and the interviewee when it comes to introverts.
For the interviewer
Traditional interview styles are pitched towards an extrovert’s comfortability. Extroverts excel at thinking on their feet and building a connection through charm. So it is our job as recruiters to adapt our interview style to appropriately test an introvert to ensure we are uncovering the best candidate for the role.
Forget the small talk
Small talk can be uncomfortable for introverts. Keep your interview questions straight to the point and ensure they are relevant to the role in order to avoid any unnecessary awkward moments.
Standardise the interviewing process
Don’t just hire on your gut feeling – these are often based on a first impression. By having a consistent, structured interview process that is explained upfront, you will give all candidates ample opportunities to prepare for an interview and allow them to put their best self forward.
Take detailed notes, don’t rely on your memory after the interview as memory is fallible. Pay close attention to your candidate’s answers. Note-taking during an interview is a valuable tool and will provide you with notes to reference when coming to your decision.
Ask more questions
If your prepared list of interview questions are not answered in depth, ask more questions and ask for your applicant to elaborate their answers. This will help avoid hiring based on ‘gut’ feelings and will lead to a confident, informed decision. Don’t be afaraid to dig for more information – be direct and ask for it. A great candidate, introverted or extroverted, will give you a straightforward answer.
For the interviewee
Prepare for small talk
You may find that in between introductions and questions there might be some small talk. Remind yourself that the ultimate purpose of interview small talk is to build a solid rapport with your interviewer. Employers look for potential employees that will get on well with others, so make sure you prepare a few casual subjects to talk about beforehand.
For example, you could comment on the weather, make a comment about your journey there or compliment something about the office. Always remain positive and upbeat, as this will help you improve your rapport with the interviewer.
Do your research
Researching a business before your interview is important. Having in-depth knowledge will help you show a genuine interest in the business. Study their website as well as look for news or other articles about the business.
If you’ve secured the interview through a recruiter, feel free to ask them for tips on what to expect during the interview and the names of the people you’re meeting. Use this information to find the interviewers’ bios either on the business website or through LinkedIn. This will help you get a better picture of what to expect.
Prepare your answers
Being put on the spot and forward to answer a question can feel really uncomfortable. Alleviate the stress of this process by researching common interview questions and practicing your answers, including out loud. You could do this with a friend or family member – and make sure they throw you a few tricky questions to help you improve your answers.
Make sure you give yourself five minutes to relax prior to your interview. Arrive early and find a private space (such as a bathroom) to focus on steadying your breathing and getting yourself in the right frame of mind.
Sell your introvert qualities
Many of the qualities that introverts possess are essential within a successful business. Introverts are typically detail-oriented, creative, thoughtful, and work well both independently and collaboratively. Given time to prepare, introverts can shine in meetings and presentations. Before the interview, make a list of your accomplishments. Consider ways your introversion may have been helpful. Have you gathered useful information by listening and observing carefully, or quietly reflected on an issue before making a thoughtful and impactful contribution? Showing a few examples and any positive outcome that resulted from your introversion will look great to the employer.
Be mindful of your body language
Make sure you maintain eye contact with the interviewer and if you are in a panel interview, make sure you engage with all panel members when answering their questions. This will help you build a connection with everyone in the room. However, it’s normal to look away from time to time too.
Present your achievements
While it may seem like bragging to some, you do need to show prospective employers what you have to offer and be prepared to present your achievements. If you are struggling to do this in words, you could back up your skills with physical evidence such as a portfolio or publication.