- Jan 10, 2012
Introverts have it really tough in most job interviews. It borders on having the deck stacked against you. It might seem that the hiring manager is playing with a different set of rules in the card game.
Studies show that Most job interviews are geared to favor the extrovert through two traditional interview mistakes.
First, most hiring executives and managers make first impression judgments of candidates. The remainder of the interview is spent validating the first impression.
Introverts are not good at making first impressions. They tend to be a little reserved and cautious upon meeting people for the first time. It takes them a little while to warm up to someone new. Imagine the hiring manager wanting a candidate who immediately makes a good impression, is out-going, gregarious, friendly, warm, and interacts comfortably. It's almost like the first sales presentation to a new client.
Many times the hiring mistake of first impressions knocks introverts out of the ring in the first few minutes of the interview. Introverts can be warm and friendly once they get to know you – unfortunately it's sometimes apparent that it's uncomfortable and awkward in the first meeting. Hiring managers then extrapolate these awkward moments in the first few minutes of the interview and project personality traits and behaviors that are usually wrong.
Second, most hiring managers and executives ask a series of questions where they are looking for immediate, articulate, and well-formed responses. Introverts tend to want to digest the question, give it adequate consideration, and have time to formulate their response. Extroverts are good at talking – they enjoy hearing themselves (I can attest to these extroverted traits since I am one myself). Hiring managers do not like long silences after asking their questions – they want immediate answers. Introverts sometimes struggle with rapid fire interview questions demanding "on the spot" responses.
Introverts tend to fail in interviews that are like interrogations with rubber hoses and bright lights – unfortunately many hiring managers conduct interrogations of candidates instead of conversations.
If you fall into the half of the population that is introverted, what can you do against a stacked deck?
Step 1: Prepare, prepare, and prepare: Stand in front in the mirror and rehearse your initial greeting and interaction. Practice shaking hands and making eye contact. Develop a set of "small talk" questions and comments that can immediately establish rapport and likeability.
Step 2: Prepare, prepare, and prepare: Rehearse your interview responses to common interview questions over and over again. Have it down pat. Make a statement, give an example to illustrate your claim, summarize the interview question and your response. Follow it up with a question to the hiring manager. If you don't do this level of preparation for every interview, you'll find yourself at the mercy of extroverts who may not be more qualified, but do a better job on building rapport and likability during the interview.
Step 3: Have a series of questions prepared that you can ask through-out the interview and at the very end when you get the question "Do you have any questions for me?" Extroverts tend to ask lots of questions. Introverts tend to not ask questions.
Hiring managers frequently use the characteristic of candidates asking interview questions to decide if they like someone.
They extrapolate from your questions your intelligence, inquisitiveness, energy level, engagement, analytical depth, warmth, engagement, friendliness, and a host of other behavioral traits.
As an introvert, you can compete successfully with the extroverts in the interviewing game. You might have to practice a little more and rehearse a little longer than your extroverted friends. If you follow the 3 steps I've outlined in this article, you should be asked back on the majority of your first interviews.