The Introvert’s Interview Playbook

 

All other things being equal, a chatty person outperforms the quiet colleague in the interview. That's because the interviewer is more likely to value volume of words spoken confidently over what is actually said. Just like in most corporate work environments.

Everyone is distracted. It's your job to deal with that and this is how you do it.

Keep in mind the buying process, and hiring is a derivative of buying, is driven by emotions, justified by logic. The fact that you're up for the interview means the logical part is taken care of in that you have the required skills to ace this position. The interview is about culture fit.

The good news is the more introverted professional has the advantage of preparing for the interview, rather than speaking their thoughts aloud, aka "winging it." Introverts by definition are not shy, it's that they find social engagement tiring and need downtime to recharge their batteries. Thinking on their feet is not a typical introvert's strong point.

Your key advantage is intelligent preparation. That’s why introverts often make stellar public speakers: they’re much less likely to just get up there and ramble on.

To make the most of your interview prep, here are 4 angles to research to specifically prepare so that you to shine during these oh-so-awkward conversations known as "job interviews."

Four specific topics to research before the interview:

1.      Obviously, you want to have a good grasp of the company’s strengths and strategy. You want to figure how where you can plug into the organization and add value. Spend time on their website but also see what other people have to say about the company on social media outlets. Be able to connect the dots between your work/skill set and the company's ambitions.

2.     Research three key players (use LinkedIn and the company's website.) You want to know as much as possible about the people you’ll be speaking with, including personal qualities like if they have children, pets, hobbies, travel experience. See if they have a personal blog. Look for anything written by the people who interest you and reference that. That sharply targeted research will have them drooling over you. Make sure you explicitly connect dots between their interests and accomplishments and your own. What you think should be obvious is probably not.

3.     Prepare three anecdotes that illustrate your strengths. Our negativity bias often blocks our successes from short-term memory. You might need to look at your calendar to prompt your memory of your accomplishments. (You don’t need to mention the boss who is a complete idiot.)Recall times when you found the solution or sold the winning idea or brought people around to a new way of thinking. If your career is short (because you're young or have been out of the job market) use stories from college or non-profit experience.

Stories sell. Facts do not sell.

 

4.      On the dreaded "tell me your weakness" question, use the "any strength taken to extreme becomes a weakness." This line of thought worked for Plato so it's proven over 2,500 years ago. The interviewer is looking for how you answer the question in terms of staying relaxed, there is no correct answer to this.

As far as the creative questions like "what animal would you be" just have fun with it or go with the flow. Again, there is no right answer. Feel free to say you'd be a zebra, even when deep down you think the question is ridiculous. Clearly, you would be the lion.

Write down key phrases to your research on an index card and put it in your pocket. If you have a brain freeze, pull out your card. Showing that you prepared to this extent shows commitment and quality. I know a professor, a skilled conversationalist, who is thought to be the life of the dinner party. Wherever he dines he brings his prepared topics with him.

Finally, prepare yourself by wearing quality, comfortable clothes, make sure you're hydrated and not suffering from low blood sugar. Light exercise like walking around the block helps channel any nervous energy.

It's show time and you're ready!

About the Author:

Laura Mixon Camacho, MBA, PhD, PMP. founded Mixonian Institute in 2009 to offer help technical professionals and executives have more impact and influence at work. Through her charisma, persuasion expertise, creative research and sense of humor, she is shaking up the traditional approach to communication training and coaching.

Her career highlights include facilitating The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People for the Stephen Covey Group in Caracas (in Spanish,) being editor of the bilingual management newsletter, Management Perspective and a business writer for Business Venezuela, the publication of the Venezuelan-American Chamber of Commerce.

She has a PhD in Communication Studies, specializing in persuasion and an MBA. For 10 years she taught various leadership communication and public speaking classes at East Carolina University and College of Charleston. She is an active board member of Charleston International Music School, a member of Charleston Metro Chamber of Commerce, Women Entrepreneurs of Charleston and Charleston Digital Corridor.

Clients of Mixonian Institute include Benefitfocus, Charleston County, Comcast, Mayne Pharma USA, Medtronic, SCRA and employees of Boeing, Robert Bosch, MUSC, SAIC, Lever and Sherman Capital, among others. Visit Mixonian Institute at www.mixonian.com or email laura@mixonian.com.

 

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