A job interview can be a stressful situation.
There's usually a lot riding on it: your career prospects, your future financial well being, and maybe a chance at a fulfilling dream job.
But on top of this, you're also meeting and engaging with people you've likely never met before, and with a goal to impress them.
It's only normal to feel some anxiety going in.
But if you're one of the estimated 25–40% of the population that are introverts, the stress and pressure will likely be magnified.
Introverts are generally highly self-aware, tend to prefer solitude or the comfort of a small group of close friends, and feel some degree of discomfort engaging with people they don't know.
Put simply, they often don't do well in unfamiliar social situations, preferring to find a nice quiet corner for themselves.
Does this doom introverts to failure in the high-pressure environment of a job interview?
The answer to this is an emphatic no.
In fact, some qualities of introverts can be strengths if you present them in the right way.
I've seen it first-hand as I've managed businesses and people during my career: an introvert can excel in just about any job if they apply themselves the right way.
I certainly don't consider introversion a strike against an interviewee.
As long as you can demonstrate that you are capable of putting in the effort to overcome some of the barriers your personality throws up, and play to the strengths it brings out, being introverted can even help you land a job!
Introverts are often highly capable, independent workers, deep and rational thinkers, and—once they get past an initial awkwardness—strong communicators and relationship builders.
With proper preparation, and playing to some of the strengths that come with introversion, you can crush any job interview—and we're going to show you how.
The tips here are targeted at helping introverts, but they can really work for anyone as they get started on their job search.
Read on for a complete guide to overcoming your introversion to ace your next job interview!
Preparing for Your Interview
Confidence is truly your best weapon when going into a job interview.
It will allow you to put your best foot forward and dazzle your prospective employers.
And if that confidence doesn't come naturally to you, the only way to make it happen is to prepare, prepare, prepare.
The more prepared you are, the more confident you'll be.
And the more confident you are, the better the interview will go.
Start with research to set the stage for success
You probably did some research about the company when you sent in your job application, but once you've been invited for an interview, you know it's time to take it to a whole new level.
Understand the interview situation. Will you be meeting one person or a group?
If you're expecting to sit down with one person but end up walking into a room with three people sitting on the other side of the table, you'll probably get thrown off and intimidated—and that's not going to help your performance at all.
Knowing what you're walking into will put you at ease and let you focus on putting your best foot forward.
Getting to know your interviewer gives you an edge. If you know who you're going to be meeting, you can do some background research on them.
Maybe you share a common interest, play the same sport, went to the same university, or come from the same city—something that can be an icebreaker.
Are they the president of the local Project Management Institute chapter?
Make sure you highlight the project management experience you have, or maybe your interest in getting certified through the Institute.
One important note: despite all the personal details your research might turn up, make sure you don't come across as creepy.
Don't bring up that you saw their kids on Facebook, or that you like the Instagram pics of their family barbecue—keep it professional and focus on what you can find publicly on LinkedIn, even if you have more details from other sources.
Do a deep dive on the company. The more you know about the company, the more ammunition you'll have to crush your interview.
What is the company's mission?
What values and fundamentals are valued?
Check to see if the corporate website has press releases, and check social media for the latest news and posts from and about the company.
See what Google turns up in a search on the company, and also check out Google News to see where it has been popping up in local and national media.
Has it recently announced any new projects or initiatives—maybe something that aligns with your interests, skills, or experience?
If you know the company inside-out, small talk will become much easier, and that's something every introvert needs help with!
This knowledge will also allow you to ace your interview, by being able to tailor your interview answers to what the company likely wants to hear.
If there's one thing I've come to really dislike as an interviewer myself, it's the generic answers I hear from applicants who clearly haven't learned anything specific about the company for whom they claim to be "so excited" to work.
It sends all the wrong messages—Don't let that be you!
Check out LinkedIn and Glassdoor for company info. These are two great online resources that can give you a lot of insight into the company and its people.
Take a look on LinkedIn to see if you have any connections at the company, or in the industry it does business in, then, don't be shy about reaching out to ask a few questions about the company or industry.
Also check out Glassdoor, which has a useful section on interview questions and reviews that can tell you about other people's experience being interviewed by the company, including questions that were asked.
Pro tip: Glassdoor also has great data on industry- and company-specific salaries, which could be a big help if you're lucky enough to get to the point where you're negotiating for that six-figure salary!
Look for talking points. As you do your research, look for and take note of any points that play to your strengths or interests, or any questions that spring to mind.
Then turn these into a list of potential talking points and questions to ask during your interview.
That's right, even though you're the interviewee, there will always be a point where you'll be asked if you have any questions—an incredibly important moment in the interview where you really have to shine.
Some experts even argue that the questions you ask in an interview are just as important as the responses you give.
Indeed, few things make a stronger impression in an interview than asking the interviewer some great questions that demonstrate you've done your homework and are truly interested in the position.
I've hired my fair share of people over the years, and I always pay very close attention to the kind of questions they ask and what those questions tell me about the person who wants to work for me.
For example, mention a major new contract or project that you read about during your research, then ask if you would be working on that project if hired.
Bonus points if you can mention some experience you have that is related to the new contract or project.
You've just demonstrated that you've done your research, that you're truly interested in what the company is doing, and that you'd be a good fit to help make their new venture a success!
Recognize your "introvert strengths" and understand how to make them count during the interview
On the surface of it, introverts don't seem to have a lot going for them.
Unless you're applying to be a lighthouse keeper on a remote island, the job you're trying to get will most likely involve plenty of interpersonal interaction with colleagues, suppliers, or customers.
That doesn't exactly sound like something that plays to the traits of an introvert.
But surely introverts have some strengths, right?
You bet they do!
The bottom line is, there are lots of ways to make money, but whatever company you're interviewing with wants to know how you can help them make money.
Here's a quick list of strengths that'll help you do just that!
Independent and driven employees that get the job done. Introverts are particularly self-sufficient, independent workers, able to motivate themselves and get things done without constant direction from others.
Deep thinkers that can accept differing viewpoints. Known for being very self-aware, introverts are able to set aside emotional reactions and rationally evaluate the opinions of others to find the best solution to a problem.
In other words, if you're an introvert, it's likely you're able to keep calm and clear-minded under pressure.
Authentic communicators that are able to build strong connections. Despite introverts' discomfort in group settings, they are known to be excellent one-on-one communicators and motivators.
This again comes down to self-awareness and being able to have open, meaningful discussions—in the right setting, of course.
So how do you play up these strengths in an interview?
Don't be shy about spelling out exactly what you're good at. If you get asked what your strengths are, put the above items at the top of your list.
Even better, though, prepare some examples that demonstrate each strength, ideally based on something you did in a professional setting.
Demonstrate your strengths through your actions and answers. Not everything needs to be spelled out in black and white for the interviewer.
Show them what you're made of by building a strong connection with the interviewer, giving thoughtful responses to questions, and dropping hints that show you've learned researched the company and the position.
Make notes and practice to build confidence
So you've done your research, you know who you'll be meeting and have a good sense of the situation you'll be walking into.
Now it's time to focus on the content portion of your interview: what you're going to say and how you're going to say it.
Let your research be your guide. Look at the language used on the company website, its social media, and in any media releases—and do the same, in great detail, with the job posting.
These sources are your cues on how to speak in a way that aligns with the company's values and direction.
Don't just read it and hope you remember. Write down notes—or better yet, a script—and read through them out loud multiple times, until you have what you wanna say down pat.
For even better results, act out an interview, either by yourself in front of the mirror or enlist the help of a friend or family member to be the interviewer and give them some questions to ask you.
This is the preparation that will turn you from an anxious introvert into a confident, articulate interviewee who can impress any potential employer!
Prepare answers to common questions. There are plenty of common questions that come up again and again in interviews:
What is your greatest strength? Your greatest weakness?
Can you tell me about a challenge you've faced at work and how you overcame it?
Why do you want to have this job?
If you have solid answers prepared for these questions, you'll be much more comfortable responding to them and adjusting your answers to fit the situation.
Don't forget to check out that interview questions section on the Glassdoor website that we mentioned earlier—it's a treasure trove of information and tips!
Plan your small talk to overcome any awkwardness
When you walk into an office for an interview, you'll almost inevitably have to engage in some small talk before you get down to business.
Your introversion may be telling you to keep conversation to a minimum and sit quietly looking at the floor or ceiling until it's interview time, but that would be wasting a golden opportunity.
The moments when you have a chance for a one-on-one conversation with potential new colleagues need to be seized and used to demonstrate that you'll fit in nicely with co-workers.
And since introverts are known to be capable conversationalists when kept one-on-one, that is a strength to take advantage of when breaking the ice with any future co-worker.
It could be having a friendly little chat with the receptionist before they show you into the interviewer's office, or smiling and saying hello to someone you shared the elevator with on the way up.
Or you may strike up a casual conversation with one interviewer while waiting for the second one to get out of a meeting that's running a bit late.
Whatever the situation, having some small talk planned in advance will help you shine—especially if it doesn't come naturally to you as an introvert.
Your research can pay off big time. If you saw on the company blog that the entire office went for an outing to a baseball game, you could ask whether the person enjoyed it (again, demonstrating that you did some research on the company!).
Another good thing to think about is the first thing you're going to say when you walk into the interview.
Maybe it's a comment about the great location of the office or the amazing variety of food trucks in the neighborhood—everyone likes talking about delicious food!
Reset your mindset for a confidence-boosting perspective
Your mindset is an incredibly important and powerful aspect of how you perform in pretty much every aspect of life.
The ability to shift your mindset and look at a situation from a different angle will allow you to approach it confidently—and we know that confidence is an introvert's best friend when it comes to job interviews!
So it goes without saying that getting into the right mindset for your interview is critical for success.
Level the playing field. Try thinking of yourself as a strategic partner for the company rather than as a simple employee.
This will make you feel more self-assured and will enable you to speak with conviction and authority about what you could bring to the "partnership".
You'll feel empowered to sell yourself and the benefits of adding you the team, rather than feeling like you're meekly asking for a job.
Everyone has their specific strengths that they can bring to the fore.
As an introvert, you'll have plenty to share: from a tendency toward in-depth analysis to the ability to rationally consider differing opinions to find the best solution for the company in a given situation.
Let that bolster your confidence when you step into the room to do your interview.
Be an interviewer, too. Make sure the people you're meeting understand that you're evaluating them as well.
Remember the importance of asking questions that we mentioned earlier?
Well, that plays a key role in demonstrating that you aren't just begging for a job and that the company will be lucky to hire you.
Questions are also a great way to break through your introversion and demonstrate that you can be engaging and carry on a two-way conversation.
Start with a blank slate. With all the research you'll be doing leading up to your interview, you're bound to build up some expectations of how things will go.
It's important, though, to keep an open mind.
When something doesn't go as you expected, don't panic.
The person you thought you were meeting is sick, so you're meeting his colleague?
They throw a surprise "test" at you, like asking you to role-play a sales call or a presentation to the board?
Feel confident knowing that your hours of preparation will allow you to quickly adapt rather than get flustered and thrown off your game.
During the Interview
Conjure up some confidence: Look and act like you were born for the job
There are lots of different factors that go into whether you'll get and keep a job, but first impressions carry a lot of weight in that arena specifically.
They say that more than half of communication is nonverbal.
That means your actions and body language during your interview are critically important.
As an introvert, you may need to "fake it till you make it"—and there's nothing wrong with that!
Smile and make eye contact. You may feel nervous inside, but on the outside, there's got to be a smile (particularly when you meet your interviewer) followed by direct eye contact in any conversations you have.
Show them you're confident. Walk into the room confidently, don't forget that smile, give a firm handshake (with eye contact), and make sure you're sitting upright and alert throughout the interview.
Keep calm on the inside and take your time to give thoughtful, well-considered answers
There's a tendency during interviews for people to rush things and blurt out answers immediately, to avoid awkward silences or give off the impression they're unsure of themselves.
As an introvert, this behavior may be even more pronounced as you try to compensate for the pressure and awkwardness you're feeling.
But we suggest that you flip this idea on its head, playing to your intellectual strengths as an introvert.
Taking your time to give a considerate and thoughtful answer shows that you're actually thinking about your response to the question and are concerned with quality and detail.
As an introvert, this kind of introspection will likely come naturally to you—one of the strengths of introverts that we were talking about!
This is where you can really make it count.
Take a moment to consider all the research and preparation you did before the interview, and let that serve as a foundation for the answers you give.
If you need to clarify a part of the question, do so without hesitation.
There's no point in giving an awkward answer to a question that you didn't fully understand.
We guarantee your interviewer will take note of your thoughtful responses.
Play the part: step outside your comfort zone with a bit of acting
Sometimes you need a little something extra to transform yourself from an introvert into the confident, engaging person that an interviewer is looking to hire.
Think of yourself as an actor, and imagine the prop that will get you into character.
It may be a piece of clothing, like your sharpest blazer, a pair of glasses, or a pen.
Whatever it is, have it with you during the interview to help you shine.
Use it to trigger that transformation when the time comes and you'll be surprised at how confident and empowered you feel.
Leave a positive impression with a show of gratitude
It's true, first impressions are crucial—but don't ignore what you need to do to end your interview on a strong, positive note.
On the inside, you may be screaming to get out of the interview pressure cooker and get back to your comfort zone.
But first, you need to make sure you "close the deal".
A surefire way to leave a good impression is to show your gratitude for the opportunity you've just had.
It also doesn't hurt to throw in a little flattery.
Tell them you love the modern, open-concept office space, or that you're impressed with the vision of the company and how it's run.
And don't forget to tell them that you'd really like to have the job!
Close with confidence. Try out a few closing lines during your preparations to see what works for you.
Here's one option:
"Thanks, Diane. I really appreciate the opportunity to come in and discuss this position with you. I've been really impressed with everything I've heard today, and I can tell you right now that I would love to join the team if given the chance to. Thanks, again."
Write a few down if you need to and practice them a bit, see what feels right and natural for you.
After the Interview
Don't let them forget you: follow up and say thank you, again so you stand out
No matter how the interview goes, make sure you follow up immediately with a note to say thank you, again.
This is yet another opportunity to show that you can engage and communicate confidently in a professional manner.
Best of all, this time you can do it from the comfort of your home without the pressure of the interview environment.
And consider this: if you're the only one who sends a follow-up message, you know you're going to stand out when they start reviewing and comparing interviewee performance.
Review your interview, but don't sweat the small stuff
Now that the interview is over, it's a good idea to take stock of how it went.
As an introvert, this kind of introspection and self-awareness will likely come naturally, so put it to work here!
Take some time to think about what you did well and what you could have done better, then store that away for your next interview, whether it be a second round interview, or one with a new company altogether.
Once you've done that, put the interview out of your mind.
It's too easy to get stuck replaying every detail over and over again, but that's not going to help you.
So analyze your performance, then drop it and get ready for the next interview—hopefully, a second and final interview with the company you just met!
Decompress and reward yourself to put a positive spin on the whole interview experience
Great work! You overcame your introversion and even used it to crush the interview.
Now it's time to reward yourself.
Go grab a scoop of your favorite ice cream, or buy that book you've been wanting to read.
By framing the interview positively and acknowledging your solid performance, you'll be setting the scene for an even better showing next time around.
With the right preparation and mindset, introverts can ace any job interview
Job interviews can be difficult for introverts.
They take you way out of your comfort zone and make it difficult for you to put your best foot forward.
But with the right preparation, even an introvert can walk into an interview and crush it!
Research the company, the industry, the people, and the job.
Plan what you're going to say (but be ready to adapt to changes when necessary).
Carry yourself with confidence.
Play to your strengths as an introvert, (thoughtfulness, honesty, and self-awareness) when the opportunity arises.
All of this will allow you to put on a great performance that may just land you your dream job.
I hope that reading this introvert's guide has helped you in some way. I wish you the best luck! Go ahead and crush that interview!
Do you have any job interview stories to share?
Got an interview tip for introverts that we've missed?
Share them in the comments below!