Interview Tips from an Introvert

Saxon McCullough Reynolds

April 02, 2017

Saxon McCullough Reynolds
Saxon is a professional writer who graduated with a BA in English. She is a mother of two, a full-time writer, and loves all things baking. After taking time out of the workforce to spend with her youngest child, she recently got back to the job hunt and landed a writing position thanks to her spectacular interviewing skills.

Job interviews are scary. We can all agree on this, right? Even if you are a confident, out-going, adrenaline-junkie-masochist, the thought of preparing to be judged by strangers doesn’t exactly sound like a good time. But what if you’re the type of person who would rather text (or die) than talk on the phone? Or write five drafts of an email before hitting send? Welcome. You’ve come to the right place.

Hi there! I am a seasoned introvert who recently climbed out of my unemployment cocoon to rejoin the workforce. After a year-long hiatus, it has been quite the learning experience. I’ve read countless shortlists, diagrams, personal development articles, and made plenty of panicked phone calls to my mother. I feel pretty selfish hoarding all of this wisdom for myself, and apparently so did Skylar because she asked me to compile and share some of the tips and tricks that helped me to master survive the interview process. So without further ado:

1. Rehearse

Yep, walk around the house talking to yourself for a couple of days. I promise this was the single most helpful preparation technique for me. A few days prior to an interview, I researched the most common interview questions, wrote down an outline for each, and then talked to myself in a mirror. It will be weird and uncomfortable at first, but actually hearing your voice, controlling your inflection, and figuring out how to pull the reigns on those nervous hand gestures is so important.

Please, oh, please, do not memorize a script for each question, rather, just practice hitting the key points you feel are necessary. Remember: this is a conversation, not a foreign language exam.

Also see: Pitching Your Professional Brand: A Guide for Introverts

2. Cling to the Familiar (on interview day)

Generally, I would say resisting change is a negative thing. Change is uncomfortable but necessary; that is, except for the day of an interview. Daily routines create a sense of control and stability and promote feelings of peace and confidence. Don’t skimp out on your daily bagel because you have butterflies in your stomach. Don’t set an alarm for two hours earlier than usual to get a head start on the day. You are smart and capable on any given day, no need to modify what already works for you.

Jacob Merkley, author of Power Over Life, teaches us about building confidence and believing in yourself.* View his article here.

3. Dress…like you!

I once took a Public Speaking course my freshmen year of college. Although it was the stuff of nightmares, I learned great tools to manage social anxiety. One of the most helpful pieces of information I took away from that class was dressing for confidence. This surprisingly doesn’t mean putting on a power suit with shoulder pads and stilettos. Use your interview outfit as a tool. Choose clothes that make you feel comfortable, yet powerful.

For example: knowing that I walk like a penguin on a tightrope while wearing heels, I opted for my trusted brown flats –simple, professional, with the added bonus of not endangering my life. The goal is to look like an amplified, professional version of yourself, not a completely different person.

4. Zen-Out

It’s the morning of your interview. Two more hours until go-time…that’s two more hours to sit in front of the mirror and drill yourself with interview questions, right? Being a person filled with nervous energy, this would be my natural thought process, but try to resist. Instead, use any spare time the day of the interview to take some deep breaths and repeat a calming mantra or two. A few mantras that I found especially helpful were:

“I feel grounded, confident, and whole.”

“I breathe in confidence and breathe out all fear.”

“I am patient and calm and greet the day with ease.”

Even if your day doesn’t go as planned, and the only spare time you have is the drive to the location of the interview, I highly recommend turning Destiny’s Child down for a moment and repeating one of these mantras aloud. You are going to find your inner Beyoncé, promise.

5. Follow-up and then Let it Go

This step is a two-parter with equal emphasis on both tasks: During the interview, be sure to ask for the interviewer’s business card or contact information and then send a quick thank-you email within 24 hours of the interview. This is the easy part for us introverts—all typing and no physical interaction! In this email, be sure to thank the interviewer for his or her time, answer any lingering questions, and re-emphasize why you are the perfect candidate for the job.

I’m just going to say it: you are going to feel like a total brown-noser, but it is, in fact, very necessary to follow-up after the interview. Follow-up emails are a convenient tool for employers to quickly eliminate candidates; if you and another candidate happen to have very similar qualifications, a thank-you email could be the difference between getting a secondary interview or a rejection letter.

Last, but certainly not least: after the follow-up email is sent, let it go. As introverted people, we tend to live out most of our lives within our own heads. This often means we replay all of the awkward moments and hang on to all of the what-ifs far longer than we should. Don’t you dare agonize over the awkward pauses and mispronounced words that may or may not have transpired (I’m looking at you, “comradery”). This isn’t productive, nor is it healthy. Any mishaps should be viewed as a learning experience. Congratulate yourself for adding another professional growth experience to your belt!

*This resource was added by the authors of Pare and Flourish, not by the author of this article.

I hope you find these tricks and tips helpful! I’ve really enjoyed reflecting on what did and did not work for me. What about you? Do you have any go-to tricks to help ease the job interview jitters?

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