Ten seconds: that might be all you have to make a strong first impression and secure the job you’re interviewing for. As an introvert, interviews might terrify you to start with, so all that emphasis on first impressions might make you want to feign sickness.
But don’t fear! You probably already know that being introverted doesn’t mean you’re antisocial or can’t perform at the highest level. It just means you need different types of social interactions and gain energy in different ways. Many people who perform in front of huge audiences are also introverts, and they can turn on the charm when the situation calls for it. With a little guidance, so can you:
1) Understand the Introvert’s Problems:
Introverts tend to be more humble and reserved in their interactions with people until they get to know them better. There’s nothing wrong with this in most social situations, but this isn’t a luxury you have during a job interview. This unique setting presents four common problems for everyone, but they can be especially daunting to introverts. The problems are:
You are out of your comfort zone.
You are not in control of the situation.
You need to talk about yourself in glowing terms.
There’s a lot on the line, so the fear of failure is even greater.
These concerns are best addressed by preparing well and focusing on the things you can control, rather than the things you can’t.
2) Check Your Appearance:
A tip about appearance may seem obvious, but you would be surprised by how many people show up to interviews looking disheveled and unkempt. Make sure your clothes are clean, pressed, and appropriate for the situation. Looking great will also make you feel more confident in the interview, so be sure to wear nice, yet comfortable, attire.
You also want to be aware of body language. This can be a big trouble spot for introverts. As you prepare for an interview, pay attention to how you stand and sit, where your eyes naturally go when someone is talking, whether or not you smile easily, and your posture.
3) Prepare Your Mind:
It is especially important for introverts to prepare mentally. How much do you know about the company and position you’re applying for? Explore the company website and learn everything you can about the business as a whole. Having a firm grasp on the company, its stakeholders, and its future goals will allow you to speak more freely about the position. Before the interview, outline how you will contribute to the company and help meet its goals. This way, you can discuss directly how hiring you would ultimately benefit the company. Rehearsing these things can help you feel more comfortable answering questions and will show that you’ve spent time trying to truly understand the organization.
4) Get in the Right State:
Your “state” is how you feel and what attitude you project. To understand it more fully, do this exercise: First, sit down, hang your head low, and tell yourself you are unhappy. It feels appropriate, right? Now, stay in the same position, and say, “I feel wonderful!” That probably feels weird. Now stand up, take a deep breath, look to the sky, and shout, “I’m so sad and depressed!” I’m guessing that didn’t feel right, either. Smile, and then shout, “I feel great! I’m so happy!” It’s hard to feel sad on the inside with such positive external expressions; your physical state directly correlates to your mental state.
The problem is that it’s sometimes not as simple as deciding to change your state. We all have beliefs that can limit us and skeletons in our closets that hold us back emotionally or psychologically. If you feel like you’re struggling to project a confident state, find a person to help you evaluate these things and disarm your limiting beliefs.
One trick life coaches encourage is to have the person imagine he already has the job. How does that feel? What is life like? You can embrace those sensations and carry them with you into the interview, helping you take control and feel like a winner.
When you’re in the right state for an interview, you will smile naturally, hold your head high, put your shoulders back, and make lots of eye contact. Other things to remember are to shake hands firmly and look up while you think about an answer to a question, rather than letting your eyes fall to your lap. All of these actions communicate confidence.
5) Get to the “Bragging”:
When you walk into an interview in the right state with confident body language, you make the most of those crucial 10 seconds. But then what? The first 10 seconds are important, but you still have an entire interview to get through. This is where you have to stay confident enough to talk about yourself in a flattering light.
Talking yourself up can be uncomfortable, but your interviewers can’t take days or even hours to get to know you. They want to know your strengths, and they want to know that you know your strengths. By demonstrating a firm understanding of yourself, you show them you grasp how you can best serve the company.
Interviewing well is a skill. Some people have that skill naturally and easily establish rapport with others the second they meet. Others have to work to develop that skill. As long as you prepare and showcase why you’re a valuable candidate, an employer will only take note of your strengths. And being an introvert just might be one of them.
Author: Rod Beau is a senior consultant at Rod Beau Coaching Mentoring and Consulting and has been an internationally sought-after education and management consultant and keynote speaker for over 25 years.