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Being Shy Can Be An Interviewing Strength

Posted by Rob Riggins

shyness can be an interviewing strengthShyness doesn’t mean you can’t do well in interviews.

The difference between stuttering and suffering through one-on-one interviews and presenting your best self comes down to preparation.

“Make some of that preparation not just about what you’d like to discuss when it comes to your achievements, but also small talk you can actually rely on when it comes time to talk,” suggested Eric Ravensworth of Lifehacker. “During the interview, try to consider talking about your accomplishments as sharing information about yourself instead of thinking of it as bragging—just to make it less uncomfortable. Also, taking your time and making sure you understand questions interviewers ask you will go a long way.”

In fact, your preparation may mean you interview better than some extroverts. Sound far-fetched? Consider that one likely element of your shyness is that you speak in a measured way. That may mean you’re less likely than an extrovert to say something inappropriate or otherwise put your foot in your mouth during an interview.

But just how do you do prepare so your shyness doesn’t result in you saying too little or otherwise sabotaging the interview? Consider these strategies –

  • Don’t apologize – to yourself or others ­– for your personality. Katharine Brooks, Ed.D., wrote in Psychology Today that accepting your inherent strengths (excellent listener) and weaknesses (fear of public speaking) can help you prepare for the interview. “You may never be comfortable in certain settings,” wrote Brooks, “But you can learn to function well in them, and then you can go home where you are comfortable. A small amount of discomfort and pain and ‘faking it’ can go a long way. You are who you are– which means you are talented in a lot of areas and you can learn to extrovert yourself when needed.”
  • Prepare – Write down questions interviewers ask – “Tell us about yourself,” “Why do you want to work here?” “What’s your biggest weakness?” “What would you bring to this position?” – and prepare your responses. After you become comfortable with the responses you wrote, rehearse question-and-answer scenarios with friends or relatives. That way, you’ll get used to the sound of your own voice and also refine your answers. Don’t stop there. Write down the main points you want to convey about your education, professional experience and career successes so you can relay them succinctly. Again, don’t think of this as bragging. Instead, think of it as relaying needed information. An article to help you is How To Craft Your Success Stories.
  • Rehearse Your Movements – When you role-play the question-and-answer scenario, practice how you will sit, look and behave during the interview. And think strategically. If you’re offered a seat on a sofa or other soft chair, sit on the front of the chair so you can sit up straight and project energy and authority. Also, practice keeping your hands in your lap or on the table, not busy shuffling papers or clicking a pen.
  • Picture success – As corny as positive thinking sounds, it does work. Mentally picture yourself acing the interview. Then, give yourself every chance to do just that. Arrive early for the interview to get a lay of the land. Review Strike A Power Pose, Improve Your Interview. Seriously try it. It works.
  • Focus on one person – Most shy people prefer one-on-one conversations and are adept at careful listening. That’s excellent news because you’ll be ready for a one-on-one interview. But what if your interview is with a group of people? Try focusing on one person at a time, but don’t ignore other people when you answer. Instead, look briefly at each person as you answer.

When you leave the interview, don’t focus on perceived “mistakes” or over analyze the meeting. Instead, write a thank you note to the interviewer, briefly emphasizing your strengths and answering any questions that may need further clarification, and move on to your next opportunity.

This entry was posted on Tuesday, June 13, 2017 9:06 pm

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