By Rebecca Fiss • October 03, 2013•Writers in Residence
I know that the Interwebs are already saturated with advice about interviewing. A lot of it is from career-building experts, and then a lot is from people like me, who just happen to have some basic interviewing experience and internet access. Which is why I'm not going to embark on a comprehensive review of everything you should and shouldn't do in an interview. I just have one simple tip—something that (I think) worked for me and that I wanted to pass along.
Both the professional and the social world are pretty highly biased in favor of extroverts. This bias is perhaps even stronger in the interview context, where you're expected to do backflips while juggling flaming batons to show the interviewer how excited you are about the position. I read a blog post recently (sorry, I can't find it! I tried!) about unconventional (read: risky) questions to ask during an interview. While I didn't use any of the questions from the article, it gave me my own idea, which I tried in my next interview. Here's the progression:
Me: "What's [the organization's] culture like?"
[Interviewer tells me about how collegial the organization is.]
Me: "Do you think there's room in [your organization] for someone who's more introverted—more inclined to listen and reflect before speaking?"
Maybe a professional career coach could word this a little more expertly than I can, but the point was this: the question gave me an opportunity to give the interviewer some insight into my personality and to emphasize my strengths as an introvert. For example, I got to talk about how I'm a strong writer, great listener, etc. It also had the pleasant surprise of helping me connect with my interviewer, who responded to my question by telling me that he, too, was a bit of an introvert (you can't always tell).
A big part of my reasoning behind this question is that I dislike putting on a show in interviews, trying my best to convince the interviewer that I'm the most excitable extrovert there ever was. It's insincere and, quite frankly, exhausting. So now that the professional world is beginning to take more interest in the introvert-extrovert spectrum and realize that ignoring introverts means missing out on valuable resources, it might be worth drawing attention to that part of your personality (rather than trying to hide it) and the various strengths that come with it.