The promise of a new year always brings about energy and excitement for the blank slate that lies ahead. New healthy lifestyle! New look! New habits! And for many readers, that may also mean the pursuit of a new job. The job search can often seem like a daunting prospect, but it can seem exponentially so for the introverted job seeker.
Introversion has become a buzzy term in the last few years, and yet relatively few know what it is. To sum up: introverts are neurologically wired to become easily overstimulated. That’s it. They’re not antisocial, they don’t hate people, and they’re not (necessarily) shy. They just require more time to “recharge” their proverbial batteries after times of high energy expenditure. It doesn’t just apply to social interactions, either; introverts have been shown to react more extremely to caffeination, loud noise, and even the sensation of hunger. With all this in mind, think about the job search process- it is draining, disorienting, and isn’t generally suited for introverts. However, there are ways to protect introverted sensibilities while still showing yourself as the best candidate. Read on to learn more about a few of them.
When applying, be honest about your needs and abilities.
Needless to say, this is true of everyone that searches for a job. However, living in a world that favors extroversion means that many jobs are developed with extroverts in mind. And while I don’t believe that any job is outside an introvert’s realm of capability, there are jobs that people are better suited for than others. Pay very close attention to the moments when you’re most energized and the ones that sap you most of your reserves, and keep those moments clearly in mind when applying for positions. A job should, as much as it can, fit the lifestyle you choose to lead. Don’t let the need for a new job blind you to that fact.
When interviewing over the phone, use research to your advantage.
I have said in response to articles advising introverts to prepare for interviews, “No introvert needs to be told that.” Introverts tend to prepare, over-prepare even, by nature. Unpreparedness for introverts can lead to higher levels of stress when trying to perform, and most are cognizant enough of that consequence to avoid it. However, another trait of introversion is the desire to share freely when one is informed. Make the institution and role you’re seeking, one of those topics. If you’ve learned things from their annual reports, alumni, or area newspapers, share what you’ve learned as needed. What comes across as perfectly normal to introverts, isn’t always common; you may be the only person coming to the table with some of the information and questions that you’re bringing up. This is a great opportunity to impress and show dedication; don’t pass it up!
When interviewing in person, pace yourself.
For many introverts, the in-person interview can be the hardest part of the process. Again, this is not because of any inherent shyness, but because the structure of interview days (repeated short dips into social pools without much time to think or decompress between) runs counter to how introvert wiring thrives (longer dives into information or exchanges, with considerable time to recharge afterward). But there are ways to combat the drain that will inevitably come from this energy differential. First and foremost, take breaks when they are offered. In a whirlwind day, even 90 seconds alone in a bathroom stall can do wonders for your state of mind. Arriving early if you have the option, or waking early to provide morning recharge time, can help. The time to think will help you combat the additional energy expended from nervousness. Second, use a “boost” when discussing the areas you are most excited about. All interviewers, no matter how understanding they may be about temperament, look for candidates who are fired up about the prospect of working with them. If it is not in your nature to interact in this fashion all the time, make sure you expend the most energy when talking about the aspects of the job you feel most qualified to do. The extra fuel will not go unnoticed. And lastly/somewhat related, make sure that any students you interact with see that spark. Their metric of evaluation is different, and they will value the energy that you share with them talking about your work. I’ve been told multiple times that the student feedback from interviews has sealed my hire, and have heard this from others as well. Don’t overlook how important their opinion is to a committee!
After the interview: follow up eloquently.
Because many introverts tend to thrive through asynchronous (meant: not in real time) communication, the post-interview follow-up is another time to set yourself apart from the pack. Thoughtful thank yous after the interview will give you time to include information or questions that you’ve thought about since your time with the committee and those you’ve met. Again, a surprising percentage of the population stumbles through thank you cards, “not knowing what to write.” Being thoughtful and eloquent about this process doesn’t go unnoticed, and gives you an additional chance to make a good impression with the decision-makers. Electronic thank yous are a start, but including in that message “a more formal thank you will follow,” and delivering on that promise, shows great poise and follow-through. Take the opportunity to demonstrate those skills.
This is far from an exhaustive list of ways to stand apart in interviews as an introvert, but hopefully it will give you the push to turn up your own volume as you set out on your search. Want to know more? Check out my website, or reach out to me directly via Twitter or email. Best wishes as you embark on your hunt!