Interviews can be tough for those who are generally quiet, soft-spoken, anxious or are not sure about what to say. Introverts are people of few words, especially on occasions that may feel like mere formality to them. But that doesn’t necessarily mean they have nothing to say.
Furthermore, life situations, a recent tragedy, constant rejections etc,. could also make an otherwise vivacious person into someone who appears tired and awkward. Such people might come across as mediocre, passive candidates.
It is important to get over the general assumption that a talkative, enthusiastic candidate is a good candidate, and that being generally quiet is a bad quality.
Moreover, it is worth taking note that lack of confidence is not the same as a lack of self-esteem, and that a lack of both does not necessarily mean someone is bad at their job.
But interviews are tricky, especially for someone who is not comfortable with the spoken word. There is a pressure to convey the right things, in the right words, in a limited space of time. That too, without sounding pushy or inauthentic.
What can you do if you fear you will come across as a quiet candidate?
We bring you part one of the bi-article series of the Quiet Candidate. Here are some psychological tips to remember which may be used as starting points for thinking about more practical solutions.
Listeners First, Interviewers Later:
Remembering that the interviewer is interested in what skills you can offer, in what ways you can contribute to the organisation/institution etc., is a good strategy to bring out the flow of words and getting rid of the anxiety surrounding the concept of interview itself. Remember, you are not going for an interrogation. A panel of people genuinely wants to listen and talk to you!
Job > Interview:
As a candidate, you can try your best to make yourself see beyond the interview: the job. As basic as it sounds, thinking about what the job may entail, the roles involved may keep you from dwelling on the interview. Thinking beyond the immediate short-term may help you to find better things to think and talk about. Over-thinking can drive you crazy but long-term thinking can give you perspective and a sense of calm.
Go through the job role. See if it falls within your comfort-zone, and if it doesn’t ask yourself how much prepared and willing are you to move out of your zone. And make sure you talk about that preparedness and willingness during the interview.
If you would not prefer a job which has a lot of talking to do, or a lot of social-interaction, then do not apply for it. Use your knowledge of self and see what else can work. Or apply only after thoroughly weighing the pros and cons. Sometimes, climbing a tree is not a great option when the ability lies in swimming through the waves! But if it is a case where you have to apply for the job, the next point can be useful.
Some jobs require one to be talkative or at least socially adept. It is very easy for the external observer to misunderstand being quiet as being mediocre.
As a quiet candidate, if you feel like the interview is not conveying your skills, you can say that you aren’t usually this quiet. Such a remark might be used as a cue, to begin talking about your past accomplishments or strengths, and thus give a sense of direction to the interview.
Remember the Why:
An application progressed to an interview for a reason. It was deemed good enough. Remembering the why’s would ensure there is not too much anxiety.
You may use this as an affirmation. Furthermore, recalling by a simple “why” the reason you thought the position appealed to you and why you felt you should apply, can help you find points to talk about.
References Are Important:
As a candidate it is necessary to list out reliable, relevant references. While many people often consider this section of their CV a mere formality, it is not so. Rather, what someone else has to say about you may become important when/if your words aren’t enough, and here is when hiring managers often get in touch with your references. Former colleagues, former employers, professors, friends, teachers are great sources of creating a detailed picture of you, which might not have been apparent in the interview.
While it is not possible to control what others assume, it is certainly possible to communicate clearly. And it is certainly, certainly possible to have conviction in your skills, and transmute that confidence in your bearing. So, if you are the quiet candidate, you can heave a sigh of relief that interviewers are indeed deliberating over you!
Part two coming soon!