For an introvert, job interviews become a special kind of torture. You spend your entire social life avoiding chatty situations. Now, your career prospects depend on your ability to make small talk.
We know the feeling. You’d rather be watching TV, or reading a book, or playing a video game. You get nervous when it’s your turn to order at a restaurant. You’d rather wait for the next elevator than get in with someone who looks like they want to jabber.
Yet, despite your lone-wolf nature, you want to display your communication skills in a job interview.
That’s a good instinct. A recent survey showed that more than eight out of 10 (81%) of recruiters highlighted interpersonal skills as an important attribute in a job candidate. In fact, this ability landed at the top of the recruiters’ wish list.
As such, you need to set your wallflower inclinations aside. With that in mind, here are a few tips any introvert can use to ace a job interview:
Don’t Be Afraid to Put the “Small” in Small Talk
Sometimes saying anything is better than silence. Of course, there are ways an interview can go way off track. (Stay away from religion or politics, for example.) However, with the most innocuous subjects, feel confident to get the discussion going with something simple.
For example, your interviewer asks, “how’s your day going?” Don’t just respond with a one-word “fine” or “good.” Expand a bit. Mention anything that might have happened to you.
It doesn’t matter if nothing memorable happened to you. You just have to elaborate with something. Feel free to offer low-impact responses like “the weather here’s been cold lately” or “I got stuck in traffic earlier.”
These might seem pointless, even boring. But they may trigger a follow-up from your interviewer.
Tell a Story
Don’t rely on one-word answers to get your point across. Provide more elaborate responses. To some extent, small talk requires you to fill up empty spaces in the conversation by giving details.
For any point you make, follow up with an example. Set the stage. Tell a story. You don’t want to overwhelm your audience with a 20-minute epic. But provide additional information to underline any subject that comes up.
Ask a Question
If you feel the conversation getting stale, you can reinvigorate it without having to talk. Just ask a question.
This tactic serves a couple of goals at once. First, it will put the impetus on your interviewer to speak and take the pressure off of you. Second, you’ll show that you don’t have to dominate a conversation.
Being an introvert may seem like a handicap in social settings, like in a job interview. But much of the process of communication comes from listening. Show you are a good listener, and you’ll demonstrate your value.
Remain engaged in the conversation. A healthy curiosity about the other person will help you make a connection. Look for moments to dive deeper into the conversation.
The more information your interviewers reveal, the more likely it is that you’ll find some common ground.
Here are a few strategies you can use:
- Try to Learn More: Ask follow-up questions to learn additional information. If your interviewer mentions college, ask them where they went to school. If they mention a brother or a sister, quiz them on how many siblings they have.
- Get Context: Get the broader story. By understanding the context surrounding a piece of information, you’ll understand better why the speaker brought it up.
- Read the Room: Look for subtle clues to how your audience is reacting. Do they seem engaged? Are they looking to move on? Details of body language and tone will help guide your responses.
Even Introverts Need Friends
Succeeding in an interview is difficult for any job candidate. However, introverts face the situation with a particular challenge. Still, it’s possible to overcome your shyness and prove your communication skills.
It helps when you have someone on your side. Partnering with a top-ranked recruiting firm, like Recruiting In Motion, offers the support you need to feel confident. You’ll go into every situation knowing you’re perfect for the job.