Ummmm...How To Not Be Awkward in Job Interviews
Interviewing for a job is a nerve-wracking experience for anyone.
But, for some of us it's more a question of how to not be awkward in job interviews.
Especially, for those among us who consider themselves to be on the introverted side!
We’re always told how important it is to make a good first impression at an interview.
Outside of the obvious (wanting that sweet, sweet money...errr job) what else is important?
Job interviews are the PERFECT opportunity for you to showcase your personality, your skills, and everything that makes you the ideal person for the job.
You'll need to tell an absolute stranger what makes you awesome, why you’re the best or most qualified for the job, and essentially toot your own horn.
For introverts, this whole dog and pony show can be an anxiety-inducing experience.
By definition, introverts tend to be shy and reserved.
They get energized by being alone whereas extroverts are at their peak when surrounded by, or engaging with, others.
Introverts generally tend to dislike small talk…
Which is one of the staple skills that lubes the wheels of conversation when meeting new people such as in an interview situation.
The entire interview experience is something that often end up being as formidable as climbing Mount Everest!
(I'm pretty sure many introverts would much rather climb Mount Everest rather than go on an interview...but I digress.)
Luckily, there are SEVERAL steps you can take to help prepare you for an interview....
How to not be awkward....
Push through the nerves of that first contact.
Without further ado, I present you with some great tips to help introverts survive their next job interview.
AKA: The Introvert's Survival Guide to Interviewing: How To Not Be Awkward In Job Interviews
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How To Not Be Awkward By...Doing Your Research
One of the best ways to ease ones nerves is to go into an interview feeling like you're READY for it.
Research is KEY when it comes to how to not be awkward in an interview.
Before you even get to the interview, spend a decent amount of time researching the company.
Check out their website to learn about them, their mission statement, get a general idea of the corporate environment, and also try to get an idea of who may be interviewing you.
Pro Tip: when you get the call to schedule an interview, ask them who will be interviewing you. Then you can do your research by checking the interviewer(s) out on LinkedIn. This will also help you figure out how many people will be interviewing you, so you can be prepared for speaking with more than one person. No one likes to be ambushed by 3 sets of eyes boring into your nervous soul.
The more you know about the company, the more at ease you'll feel during the interview.
Being well researched will help you anticipate the types of questions they might ask, and when they talk about their company, you’ll feel like you have a better understanding of it.
- Company Website
- Check out "About Us" page
- Review company mission statement
- Review Financials
- Read company blog
- See what employees have to say about the specific location/position
- See what Interview questions are sometimes asked
- See what size the company is
- Social Media/Youtube
- See what company is up to lately
- Watch videos and learn about what's important for them
- See what values they project and how they control the conversation about themselves
How to Not Be Awkward By...Being Prepared
This is something that ANYONE going in to an interview should do, but it’s particularly important for introverts.
Always go in to an interview well prepared.
What does “being prepared” mean? You’ve got a great start because you’ve already done your research (gold star for you!).
Now it’s time to think about the interview itself.
How to Introduce Yourself In an Interview
- Highlight your educational background.
- Bring your relevant qualities to light.
- Maintain an air of positivity.
- Keep it short and simple.
- Practice your introduction
-->For more information on how to introduce yourself in an interview click HERE<--
How To Not Be Awkward By...Showing Confidence
The next thing to consider is that one aspect of being prepared is that it helps you to exude confidence.
And the confidence you're perceived as having is directly proportionate to how high these 3 forms of confidence are when you go into the interview:
- Self Confidence - having a realistic understanding of your own abilities or performance and believing that you can be successful.
- Social Confidence - how you feel in social events.
- Professional Confidence - comes from competence in your field or industry.
-->To read more about these 3 forms of confidence click HERE.<--
THEIR Interview Questions
Another way you can be prepared is by anticipating some of the questions you inevitably will be asked.
Many interviewers stick to the same types of questions, so a quick google search is an easy way to get prepared.
What do you know about our company?
One of the most impressive things you can do is have something prepared when the ask the question:
"What do you know about our company?"
Make sure you go in with a 5-10 second reply gleaned from your research phase.
You want to have this memorized so that it rolls easily off of the tongue.
Interviewer: "What do you know about Yorker, Inc.?"
You: "Yorker, Inc. has been breeding Yorkshire Terriers since 1872. Your toy terriers have impressively gone on to win 3 of the last 5 'Best in Show' at Crufts. And you were one of the first breeders to protest docking and have been staunch proponents of ending mutilation of dogs for competition purposes. You were also one of the first breeders to publicly protest American Kennel Club and Canadian Kennel Club because they require docking."
When an interviewer asks this question they want to know these two things:
- How good you are as a researcher and
- Do you care enough about the company and the position to research them before coming in to be interviewed?
As far as the other questions you'll be asked during the interview...
Start with a list of common questions and write out your answers for them.
Some of the most popular questions interviewers ask are:
- Tell me about yourself.
- What are your biggest strengths?
- What are your biggest weaknesses?
- What makes you a good fit for this job/Why did you apply for this job? What interests you about this position?
- What's Your Expected Salary?
-->To learn how to answer the questions above AND the reason behind them click HERE<--
You can even rehearse your answers with someone so you'll feel more at ease and natural when interview day finally arrives.
YOUR Interview Questions
One of the best ways to be ready for an interview is to ALWAYS go in with a list of questions prepared.
It’s rare to encounter an interview that doesn’t end with “Do you have any questions for us?”.
And the crazy part: most people won’t think about this beforehand.
Coming up with questions on the spot is hard, so make sure to prepare a list with a minimum of 3-5 questions before your interview.
Inevitably, some of these questions will get answered throughout the course of the interview, so that’s why having a list of 3-5 to pull from is ideal.
Pro Tip: I tend to go in with a list of 10 or more questions based on the company research I did earlier. As they answer the questions during your conversation write something down and cross it off. This gives a subtle psychological impression that you're extremely well prepared and pro-active.
Use Your Time Wisely
As an introvert, you know yourself well enough to understand that too much social activity in a day or certain time period isn't your cup of tea.
If you’re pursuing a lot of job leads and are lucky enough to land several interviews, try not to schedule more than one on the same day.
Spreading them out will help you conserve your energy and feel more prepared as well as energetic.
You should also try reserving some "Me time" just for yourself on interview day.
Spend the morning at home quietly preparing for the task at hand.
Keep things as low-key as possible.
Don’t schedule meetings or calls immediately before (or after) your scheduled interview time.
If spending an entire day by yourself isn’t feasible, at least try to do the best you can.
Sometimes just preserving as little as 30 minutes before and after the interview when you can be alone and relaxed is all you need.
At the very least it gives you time to prepare yourself and unwind, as needed.
How To Not to Be Awkward...with Small Talk
Being an introvert, there’s a good chance you hate small talk.
Unfortunately, this is a HUGE part of interviewing and how to not to be awkward.
Since you can’t avoid it, embrace it!
Think about some rather simple questions you can ask the interviewer to make it a smooth introduction.
Here are a few ideas to help you through the small talk:
- Ask the interviewer how long they’ve been with the company.
- Talk about current events or trends related specifically to the industry or company you’re interviewing in.
- Ask questions relating to the company--for example: if the company you’re interviewing for hosts an event each year, ask about that! This is a great way to show you’ve done your homework. Win-win!
- Discuss a recent blog post/webinar/article the company has published. This is another great way to show you’ve done your research. AND it's a topic that will likely also help you learn more about the company.
You can also prepare yourself for small talk by practicing with a friend or family member.
(Though it's sometimes best to practice with strangers because people who've known you for a long time might start wondering if you've been taken over by bodysnatchers.)
It might feel silly, uncomfortable, or downright stupid...but rehearsing even a little can help you feel more at ease when the time comes.
Run through a few of your chosen questions until you feel confident that you can handle them in the interview.
Don’t Hide Your 'Introvertedness'
Being an introvert's nothing to hide!
It’s important to be upfront during the interview.
For example, if the particular office setting you’re interviewing for involves working in team environments CONSTANTLY with no alone time, it might not be the best fit for you.
On the other hand, maybe being an introvert would make you the PERFECT type of person for the job.
Wouldn’t you rather be upfront and know you’re getting a job that’s going to be a good fit for your personality?
Play to your strengths.
As an introvert, you’re probably a great listener.
Introverts are typically good at observing what’s going on around them.
If being an introvert's made you better at written communication, show that off!
Being introverted means you’ve developed skills that others haven’t.
Make sure you highlight these in your interview.
Bring a Portfolio
If you find it hard to verbalize your skills, show them off instead!
Now, this doesn’t mean you can get away with not talking altogether, but preparing a portfolio of sample work is a great way to take the edge off.
Having something physical to hand off to an interviewer might make you feel more confident.
And if you find that you get tongue-tied, you can always reference something from your portfolio to help you get back on track with the conversation.
The great thing about a portfolio is that you can put the work in one time, and then make small adjustments whenever you accomplish something new.
It’s also a great idea to only include things your interviewer would find relevant--so before each interview, pull out anything you don’t think will fit the particular job or business.
If you don’t already have a portfolio, here are some great tips to help you get started:
- Start with a brief overview of your professional history. This can be an extension of your cover letter.
- Include a copy of your resume, and list of references (if required).
- Gather letters of recommendation from past employers.
- If relevant, include copies of your transcript from school (this is good if you’re a recent grad).
- Showcase any certifications, licenses and degrees that you have.
- Highlight your work. If you work in a creative field, include writing samples, design samples, etc. If your type of work is harder to provide samples of, you can instead include a written summary that highlights past projects you’ve worked on.
Bringing a portfolio to an interview is a great way to feel more comfortable, at ease, and show off your skills!
It's often a lot easier to talk about yourself when you have something concrete and tangible that you can hold in your hands and help guide your thoughts.
Accept Those Interviews
One of the best ways to survive interviews as an introvert is to push past the fear, and go to every interview you’re offered.
This may seem like a daunting task, but the more times you do something, the easier it becomes.
Even if you’re not sure a job is a great fit, consider going to the interview anyway.
Go in prepared to do your best, and if you decide the job isn’t your cup of tea…it was a learning experience and great practice!
Wouldn’t you rather have a few interviews under your belt when your dream job calls you?
After all, practice makes perfect!
There are very few people in the world that would say they enjoy going to job interviews.
Not many people are super excited about being judged against unknown contendors.
Just know that, as an introvert, you’re not alone!
The key to pushing past the fear and nailing that interview is knowing yourself and what you can do to help the process go as smoothly as possible.
Chances are you will always get a bit nervous before an interview, but the more you practice, the more you will learn what works for you.
The next time you get called for an interview, use this guide to help you through the process.
Make note of what works for you, and you’ll start nailing those interviews and land the job you’ve been after!
What tips do YOU have on how to not be awkward in interviews?
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