…but you do have to manage it in your interview.
How do we establish authenticity, credibility in an interview? A top goal for any interview is to help our interviewer be comfortable. How do we do that? For those of us with a quiet personality, interviews can be especially challenging.
Should you “Just be yourself”? …I’m not so sure.
You’ve hear the words: “Just be yourself!” I’m not so sure this is good advice at all! Interviews aren’t known as a place where most people spend a lot of their time. The interview doesn’t reflect our everyday conversations or even those situations where we are meeting people for the first time. When we are in the interview, we are trying to prove ourselves and “win” a job offer. There’s a lot at stake!
I can do this job! HIRE ME!
My guess is that for most people, with all that’s on the line, “just being themselves” might mean sweating, trying to swallow the lump in their throat and keep their hands from shaking. …and not to mention trying to avoid anything they will remember and regret for the rest of their lives. For others, it might mean jumping up, grabbing the interviewer by the shoulders and shaking them as they scream, “I can do this job! HIRE ME!”
Good news: you don’t have to be a whiz-bang extrovert.
It’s true: we need to be authentic and genuine, and we want to show that we are eager and excited about the position. However, for an introvert, trying to be extraverted for an interview is not only unhelpful, but it presents them in a poor light. The same holds true for people who tend to “freeze” when they are in stressful situations. There’s good news. For those people with quiet personalities, it is unnecessary to try to show overt exuberance, excitement and, wait for it…enthusiasm.
Make the interviewer comfortable:
Making others comfortable means showing a genuine interest in them, their concerns, and their comfortability when they are with you. Most candidates believe that interviews are all about them. I believe the opposite is true. First, the interviewer already believes the jobseeker can do the job. Why would they spend the time if this were not the case? Therefore, interviews are usually more about cultural fit.
This being the case, it leaves the candidate free to ask questions about the business, the concerns regarding the job, the work environment and culture, the manager’s style…in short: showing a genuine interest to learn more about the company, the position, and the job itself. This should take some of the pressure off of the candidate.
Managing your quiet demeanor:
Be prepared to answer the question, “How would your colleagues, describe you?” If the question isn’t asked, volunteer this information! Emphasize your ability to listen carefully, collaborate on a potential solution and your willingness to follow-up and ensure your colleagues are all set.
Millennials may be asked how their friends would describe them. The same response holds true. Indicate how friends seek you out because of your ability to listen to their situation.
What your interviewer needs to hear you say:
Interviewers look for people who are enthusiastic and engaged. Sometimes this is referred to as the “WOW Factor.” They need an overall sense from the candidate that they will have a positive influence in the work environment. This can be managed in several ways.
Use one or more of these quotes (tweaked to your situation and choice of words):
- The “WOW Factor”: “This position includes the kinds of work I especially enjoy. I believe in the mission/values/outreach of this company — it’s where I can make a commitment and make a difference.”
- “I understand that a big part of working well with others is making sure they are comfortable. I am a quiet person, however, I look for opportunities to get to know my colleagues, help them when it’s appropriate, and contribute in a manner that builds trust.”
- “The more I learn about this position, the more I believe it is an excellent match for me. (Assuming it is!) I want to be sure that you don’t mistake my quiet demeanor for a lack of enthusiasm.”
- “As a __________ (your role, e,g, manager), there are days when the tension is high and the team is fighting fires most of the day. I’ve learned that if I keep my focus, and a pleasant, professional demeanor —that the team will do the same. I just want to be sure that you don’t mistake my quiet demeanor for a lack of enthusiasm.”
Four more ways to win a job offer:
Remember that the interviewer is experiencing you, usually for the first time. There is a lot of information for them to take in. Their take-away is a composite that includes your words as well as your demeanor.
Consider the following:
- Breathing: When we are nervous, our respiration may slow or become shallow. A steady deep breath can release tension, and also support the vocal apparatus so that the tone is clear and confident.
- Voice tone: Some people don’t push enough air through their vocal cords and the result is a raspy, broken sound. Recently there has been news coverage about a tone called “Vocal Fry” and the studies show that it makes a candidate less likely to be hired.
This is difficult for the listener, especially during a phone conversation. A quick cure may be to take deeper breaths during the interview. Action: It is essential that every jobseeker record themselves and listen to their voice tone. It’s awkward at first, but listen to the recording several times and ask what kind of message your voice tone sends. Practice until your tone is clear.
- Sense of humor: Your ability to laugh: Even a quiet chuckle, an enjoyment of a light moment can put both you and the interviewer at ease. Action: If you prepare a story or scenario for your interview, consider working in a moment of humor. Be sure that the humor is positive. It should not have any negative connotations for you, others, a company, etc.
- Ask for feedback on your response: “Did I answer your question?” or “Are there other aspects to your question that you would like me to address?”
Non-verbal interview communication:
Many studies continue to show that our non-verbal behaviors can be more important than the words we use. Here are some suggestions:
- Smile: Even on a phone interview, studies indicate that when a person smiles, the listener can tell. It makes a positive impression. They can actually “hear” you smile.
- A firm, dry handshake, with eye contact.
- Nod affirmatively. Consider writing a brief note when an important point is made.
- Lean slightly forward.
- If you need time to think – look to the side for a moment. When you are ready to respond, smile, look at the interviewer – make good eye-contact and say, “Okay! Here are my thoughts on that…”
How determined are you?
Walking into an interview is scary. It makes most people feel vulnerable and even unsafe. So this entire ordeal takes courage.
Bill Cosby said, “Decide you want it more than you are afraid of it.”
Master these jobseeker skills to differentiate yourself, and stay ahead of the curve.