I am a nine-year Army veteran with a track record of success but I am also an introvert and I come off as such in interviews. All my leadership experience and accomplishments don't seem to matter because I'm not bubbly and outgoing. I seem to do fairly well at getting interest from hiring managers, then they meet me in person. I know to rehearse, rehearse, rehearse, and that just makes my answers to questions sound rehearsed. I really feel at a loss right now.
As someome who has experienced the interviewing process from both sides I'd like to make just a few comments and observations, which I hope you may find helpful.
It is well known that everyone has traits for both intro- and extroversion - one usually being more prominent than the other. While most people have no trouble believing that introverts are shy and quite they do seem to find it hard to believe that an extrovert can also be shy. I point this out because having done the Myers-Briggs testing a number of times over the years, I have discovered that while I am heavily leaning towards the extrovert side, I do also display many introvert traits. Why do I tell you all of this? Well, I wanted a little background to relate to a couple of examples that I have personally experienced.
I have seen firsthand the exact same response you mention above. In an interview many years ago I was turned down for a position that I KNEW I was well qualified for. I didn't bother to ask why at the time. I eventually got the job, and sometime later asked my manager why she didn't hire me initially (they chose someone else who didin't work out). She told me that I did not seem "upbeat/excited" enough about the position. Hard to imagine, me a flaming extrovert not being able to come across as upbeat/excited about something...but my introvert comes out in me until I really get to know people so I suppose this made perfect sense. I have since learned to always follow up on a rejection with the inquiry of wanting to know so that I can improve for the future - most folks will tell you where you were weak in their eyes.
On the flip side, when I have interviewed people I try to understand that there are introverts and extroverts, that the interviewing processs is stressful and can inhibit a persons true self, AND that most people want to work with/hire/be around LIKE people etc. I saw this first hand as well. I knew of two managers that I worked with often. One was a gregarious extrovert, the other a cerebral introvert. When working with their respecitve teams I could see the "likeness" in that the people who worked for the extrovert tended to also be extroverts, and vise versa. The one thing that they all seemed to share was a passion for what they did..and an ability to let others know of their passions. If I could give one piece of advice it would be this...passion. If you are passionate about what you know, what your abilities are and how they can benefit the receiveing party - that can go a long way. Being able to communicate that passion - that is the key.
In closing, some other interesting reads might be found on the Myers-Briggs site regarding type indicators. I've found that is is not only important to understand the type indicators, but strengths and weaknesses and how they canbe used to ones advantage. Here is a link to the Myers-Briggs site if you are interested in some addition reading on this http://www.myersbriggs.org/my-mbti-personality-type/mbti-basics/extraversion-or-introversion.asp
Hello Matthew. I am also an introvert, and a veteran, and I have a really good job where I have to talk to people every day. I see that you do have really strong experience, which is a great asset. I hope you will be receptive to two books I would suggest. Maybe you have already read them.
"Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking", might give you some good ways to help you frame up how being an introvert is a strong asset for prospective employers.
"Crucial Conversation Tools for Talking When Stakes are High" can help you strengthen your skills to intrepret conversations. Stakes are plenty high in an interview. This is not targeted at introverts, but rather is for everyone.
As an introvert, these books have been helpful to me, and to other people on my staff with whom I studied these books.
Yes practicing is important, and you are right so is a genuine and spontaneous response. Be yourself.
I hope some extroverts and other introverts will chime in with more ideas. Best wishes to you Matthew.
Happy to do a couple of mock interviews with you to incorporate some of this great feedback. As an introvert/management consultant/duke mba, I have done countless interviews and would be very happy to help! Thank you, Janhvi
Read "How to Have Power and Confidence in Dealing With People" by Giblin. It is my all-time favorite book for dealing with people because it reveals a few simple truths.
Look for situational interviews, where you're required to solve problems (hypothetical or otherwise). As a Hiring Manager for many years in a specialized technology area I watched MANY introverts turn their back to me and my team and solve a whiteboard problem. At some point I'd get a sense for WHO they were and whether they were capable problem-solvers. Most did well. The most pathetic were those who couldn't muster the courage to start. The most common were those who tried to BS solutions. Both types had very short interviews.
If you don't land a situational interview, MAKE SURE you leave the interview with an understanding of current problems, then pick one and follow up with a SOLUTION. "I've been thinking about your World Peace problem and have put together a high-level path to resolution that I'd be happy to implement when hired." The BEST hire I ever made was a gentleman who did that. When I've tried it myself it's been hit or miss, usually depending on whether the hiring manager was trying to solve problems or just looking for yes-men/warm bodies. Fortunately, by solving problems in one interview, my preparation for subsequent interviews was improved, as were my odds of landing the job.
There's a LOT of good advice here, but Aaron's resonates most with me. As an introvert, I had to learn to ensure that interviewers not confuse a lack of boisterousness with a lack of confidence and/or ability. Soft-spoken, thoughtful people who exude confidence get more done than loudmouths. Let your actions speak for you, and set yourself up so that there IS something you can take action on!
I too am an introvert, and believe it or not have had a successful Sales career for 27 years.
One of the key attributes of being an introvert is the power of observation and being able to listen. If you are able to use these powers, and demonstrate to the interviewers your keen insights, that is using your introvertness to your advantage. Hiring managers want people that can think on their own, pull desparate data together to form a conclusion.
Demonstrate your skills by researching the company and position ahead of time. Develop some insightful questions or thoughts around your research. That will truly differentiate yourself from the pack. Ask questions around the hiring manager's goals and objectives of the position, and then demonstrate how your listening skills work, and your ability to observe and relate apply.
A good hiring manager will be able to see those skills, without your need to come flying over the desk full of verbosity.
Be confident in yourself and your abilities, and that will always shine through. I always say, that the only predictor of the future is what you've done in the past. Understand how your track record applies to the current position, and relate it to the job goals and objectives of your interviewer.
Also think of jobs that are more reflective of your personality. You probably won't make it as a plaid suit used car salesman but that's ok. There are more mentally focused positions that don't require customer interaction or minimal co-worker interaction. Focus on honing the skillsets for these type of jobs. When interviewing in person soften the initial conversation with anything personable to the interviewer in the room if possible. Be at ease and they will too.
Barbara, thanks for your input. I recently discovered the two books you mentioned and am planning to read them very soon. I just started reading How to Start a Conversation and Make Friends (as pathetic a title as that sounds) by Don Gabor in hopes of getting something out of it.
Although I think the hiring process is unfairly biased against people with my type of personality, I accept that I have to play the game and do my best to put on a good front during the interview process, which requires trying that much harder to compensate for my shortcomings.
I know I'll do good work once I'm on the job; I'm very confident of at least that.
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