Interviewing Tips for Introverts

by Amanda May, Head Editor, INALJ North Dakota

Interviewing Tips for Introverts

1da1d70As an introvert, I dread the interview process.  It feels awkward to sit in front of new people and talk about my accomplishments.  Honestly, it feels like I am just bragging about myself.  Many times, people would tell me to be more outgoing.  That’s just not me.  Now, I know that I cannot avoid interviews.  As much as I like there to be one, the job fairy just doesn’t exist, you know?  Anyway, after many good and many not-so-good interviews, I found these tips really helped me perform much better in an interview setting.

  • Practice Your Answers: I typically search for “librarian interview questions” or “library interview questions” on the Internet.  By taking the time to rehearse my answers to these potential questions, I feel much more prepared for the interview.  I do not recommend memorizing the answers verbatim.  You want your answers to be as conversational as possible.
  • Film Yourself: Find a friend to help you practice your interview skills.  I recommend filming yourself, so you can evaluate your body language.  For example, eye contact used to be difficult for me.  By filming myself, I saw that was one of the things that I do when I am nervous.  I’ll be honest that eye contact can still be difficult for me, but by taking the time to film myself, I am much more aware that I may be doing it in an interview setting.
  • Practice for the Unknown: Sometimes, an interviewer may ask you a question that you have not rehearsed prior to the interview.  That’s okay!  I usually say something like, “That’s a very good question.  Let me think about it for a minute.”
  • Prepare for Small Talk: I’ll be honest.  I despise small talk, but it will happen during the interview.  Make sure you mentally prepare yourself for it.
  • Know Where You are Going: I often drive to the interview site a day before the scheduled interview.  Since I know where I will be going for the interview, I’m not so scared of getting lost and can focus more on preparing for the interview.
  • Learn About Your Potential Employer: I always find it helpful to learn about my potential employer before any interview.  While your interviewers may be impressed that you took the time to learn about the workplace, it may help you decide if it really is a place that you want to work.  I typically look at the potential employer’s website and newsletters.
  • Buy a Padfolio or Portfolio: I purchased a portfolio that includes a pad of paper and space for other documents.  During the interview, I write down keywords that help me remember different points that I want to get across to the interviewer.  It helps keep my thoughts on track.
  • Bring a List: I sometimes bring a list of accomplishments to the interview for my own use.  I keep it in my portfolio.  If I’m feeling nervous or inarticulate, I sometimes refer to the list to help me get back on track.

While I wish there really was a job fairy, I know that one does not exist.  Whether or not you’re an introvert, preparation is really the most important part of succeeding in an interview.  It helps minimize all of the unknowns that cause stress during the interview process.  You’ll have more opportunities to let yourself really shine.

  12 comments for “Interviewing Tips for Introverts

  1. Suzanne Stauffer Lambert
    October 25, 2013 at 8:53 am

    Most of these are good tips for anyone of any personality type applying for any job. Preparing for small talk is specific to us introverts. Another tip I’d add is to prepare questions about the job, the institution, etc., in advance. That was the question that always threw me — “Do you have any questions for us?” Of course, as an introvert, I needed time to reflect and think! So, I prepared standard questions in advance. Interviewers particularly want to see that you are interested in working for them — not just in getting a job. So, questions about the five-year plan for the library; questions about the patrons/community; questions about professional development opportunities — have half-a-dozen or so memorized. You should be doing this as you are researching them — in fact, that’s the purpose of researching them.

  2. Aimai
    October 24, 2013 at 8:21 pm

    9Yikes, after 5 interviews in the past month, this was a timely (re)posting for me. The most disconcerting interview I had was a Skype interview – yes I know you are supposed to look at the camera, but it is so hard not to look at your interviewer to see how they are reacting to what you say. Anyway, great tips! I will try to use them in my future interviews. – Aimai

  3. Llaura Garcia
    June 26, 2013 at 12:09 pm

    The bragging item is definitely something that is very awkward for me. And small talk is also something that I find awkward. After that initial basic conversation there seems to be a short –but noticeable awkward silence.

  4. Lisa Israel
    June 26, 2013 at 10:57 am

    This was a great piece — I too hate interviews. I love talking about my passions and why I love what I do, but when it gets to the “what are you most proud of” I start going — um — well — and then feel like I have done nothing worth talking about. I’m thinking, well, I haven’t cured the common cold, I haven’t invented anything really cool (except in my head), all I’ve done is reduced implementation time by over 50% and that was just part of my job. So I loved the suggestion to have the list in the portfolio of what I’ve done, prepared during a time when I’m quiet and by myself so that I can see it as something that has helped rather than something that will win me a Nobel prize!

  5. Carrie Kent
    June 26, 2013 at 10:11 am

    I’ve been thinking a lot about this, Sarah, after initially posting a comment last night. I have hired a lot of people over the course of my career, and am also an extreme introvert (albeit a social introvert.) One mindset that introverts might consider changing is this: it’s not about bragging about what you’ve done. It’s about demonstrating passion for what you love to do. I hate cover letters that tell me: Here are my accomplishments and I’m perfect for your job. I’ll decide whether you are perfect or not. ;-) I’d rather read a cover letter that expresses how somebody feels about the profession, their accomplishments, and what they would really love to do. I recently read a resume by a young man who barely met the qualifications (barely)…and there are other people in the pool more qualified. But he projects a deep love for what he’s doing, and a willingness to understand the job I posted. And he will get a phone interview, and get the chance to take himself off paper.

    • Sarah Roark Schott
      June 26, 2013 at 12:41 pm

      Thank you for this comment, Carrie. Cover letters can be so difficult to write, and feeling like you are just writing it to brag about yourself make it even harder! Additionally, being new to the field means I’m probably not as qualified as many of the other applicants, so I’m not really a perfect fit for most of the jobs I see posted. Your comment about the resume from the person who barely met qualifications gives me hope! I am soon leaving my position to move to another state with my husband, so I am going to take your advice and start writing about my love for the archives field, what I’ve achieved, and what I would love to do at the places I apply to.

  6. Lisa
    June 26, 2013 at 9:01 am

    The dislike of bragging is a problem I have, as well. I know they don’t see it that way; to them it’s a chance to find out what really distinguishes you from the crowd but it IS tough! There’s nothing worse than leaving an interview knowing you’ve blown it, though, and could have gotten the job (you know your skill set matched the description) but you couldn’t articulate well enough… It is really, really tough for introverts to interview… Thanks for the tips!

  7. Carrie Kent
    June 26, 2013 at 2:26 am

    The other thing that I have always done is to take notes on their answers to YOUR questions…but use a medium that does not distract you or keep your head down. I’ve always done this, and in a couple of cases, people commented on it after I’d gotten a job. It allows you to both project great interest in what they say, and also break eye contact occasionally.

    • Montana to Pennsylvania editors
      June 26, 2013 at 9:17 am

      That is a great suggestion, Carrie. Writing notes on their answers to your questions is definitely beneficial to the interviewing process.

    • Wanda
      July 9, 2013 at 12:58 am

      Thank you very much for the above information, but just wanted to ask,if you consider,phrases like customer service satisfaction an eye catcher?

  8. Sarah Roark Schott
    June 25, 2013 at 4:52 pm

    I really like the idea of bringing a list of accomplishments, and a portfolio pad with you! When I get nervous I tend to forget everything I’ve ever done in previous positions. In my last interview I corrected a mistake I had made 10 minutes earlier! So embarrassing, but still important to get my facts right. I think a list would keep me from any mishaps like that again! Luckily, I got the job even with that mistake! Thanks for sharing your tips!

    • Montana to Pennsylvania editors
      June 26, 2013 at 9:18 am

      Thanks, Sarah. I’m glad that you got the job! – Amanda May

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