Job interviews are the worst.
If you’re anything like me, you change jobs every few years, and each time, you’ve had to go through a lot of awkward interviews before you landed something solid. And those interviews are stressful and uncomfortable, to say the least, because they put you in the hot seat. You—the introvert—who avoids the spotlight whenever you can.
The job interview is a shared nightmare among many introverts, but it doesn’t have to be an impossible task. Just getting to the interview means you were able to stick out among a sea of interested job seekers, which is an applaudable feat in and of itself.
Fortunately, when it comes to job hunting, introverts have a specific set of skills that businesses can profit from. We can shine in interviews by highlighting these skills. We simply have to not let our nature discourage us from seeking better positions and better jobs. Even though the corporate office seems inundated with extroverts, we can make a huge impact in any business.
Here are four talking points that can help you sell your introvert skills in a job interview:
1. “I’m the kind of leader who makes sure everyone’s voice is heard.”
Fellow Introvert, Dear contributor Tobie Smith writes that introverts often struggle with self-promotion. Our desire to stay out of the spotlight hinders us from receiving praise when it’s due, or causes us to miss out on the stellar promotion that we deserve.
However, when it comes to skills, our desire to stay out of the limelight can actually be a positive thing. It shows that we can work well in teams: our abilities to listen, absorb, and not micro-manage a project or hog the stage can make us excellent team leaders.
And don’t forget about our inherent creative qualities. Susan Cain, author of Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking, loves to point this out on her blog. One particular post talks about the creative leadership of introverts:
“People who like to spend time alone are decidedly at odds with today’s team-based organizational culture. According to management research, introverts are much less likely than extroverts to be groomed for leadership positions even though another Wharton study led by Professor Adam Grant found that introverted leaders outperform extroverted ones when managing proactive employees—precisely because they give them the freedom to dream up and implement new ideas.”
The takeaway: In an interview, bring up a time when you had to navigate around the needs of other team members. What role did you play in the team, and were you proud of your achievements, even if they went unnoticed by the majority?
Focus on your love for doing a good job and being the supportive backbone of a business and your fellow employees. Talk about how much you want the business to succeed because of your hard work. Even if you’re not in the spotlight, you are still playing a very important role.
2. “I can turn potentially negative situations into more positive ones.”
Emotional Intelligence, also known as EQ, doesn’t come easily for everyone. It is a mixture of intrapersonal intelligence and interpersonal intelligence. In other words, it’s the ability to understand the emotions of others and the ability to control and manage your own emotions. When it comes to business, emotional intelligence is surprisingly powerful; so much so that it is now considered more important in hiring decisions than traditional IQ.
Luckily, empathic introverts are already well aware of their emotions and how to handle them. It comes easily for some of us, and we can use that to our advantage. Communication, management, and networking are all affected by EQ. Essentially, in any interaction in which another person’s emotions may run high, your ability to navigate those difficult situations can be a tremendous strength to the business. The better the EQ, the more of an asset you will be.
The takeaway: In your interview, give the hiring manager an example of when you navigated a tough emotional situation with an ex-colleague or a customer. Showcase your empathy, and describe how it helped you turn a potentially negative situation into a more positive one.
3. “I believe in the company’s mission.”
Introverts tend to want jobs that are meaningful to them. They want more than just a paycheck. As Dr. A.J. Drenth highlights, “[Introverts] want their career to incorporate and embody their personal values, interests, talents, and personality. In order for them to feel whole, introverts want their outer life to reflect and represent their inner life.” This is why finding the perfect introvert career can be so difficult.
Company culture is a huge draw for introverts, and when you find a job that aligns with your values and what you expect from a business, it can be a winning ticket if you focus on the company’s culture in the interview.
Company culture is different for every business, but it is what creates a loyal employee base, a loyal consumer base, and a strong company that can withstand any issues that are thrown its way.
The takeaway: Since every business is different, it’s important that you, the job seeker, study up on the company’s message before applying to the job. If you find that their message matches what you’re looking for, bring that up in the interview. Tell them you have been looking for a job just like this one, and you hope to work for them for years to come.
4. “I’m in this for the long haul.”
Stability didn’t always used to be such a huge benefit, but lately it can be the magic word for hiring managers. “You want to stay for a few years? Excellent!”
If you’re reading this, there’s a good chance that you fall into the millennial generation. Millennials are the largest group to be entering the job market currently, and they are notorious for hopping from one job to the next every two years on average.
However, introverts of any age have the competitive advantage of being fans of stability. When we search for a job, we are hoping this job will last a long time. Although each of us deals with change in different ways, the less large-scale change (such as switching jobs), the better.
The takeaway: We can highlight this in our interview and let the recruiter know that we are looking for stable and long-lasting employment with the company. In our current state of the job market, with the constant turnover of younger employees, that is a rare trait to have.
Although introverts can feel overlooked or undervalued in the corporate world, or get discounted as “shy” or “rude” for our quiet natures, we have a lot to bring to the table. When we are proud of our achievements and can showcase our unique traits as introverted employees, we can shine in any interview.
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Learn more: The Secret Lives of Introverts: Inside Our Hidden World, by Jenn Granneman
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