The introvert’s IT job interview guide: 10 tips

The introvert’s IT job interview guide: 10 tips

Are you ready to leap the interview hurdles that introverts often dread? Use these expert tips to prepare – and win that role

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June 27, 2018

Job interviews can test any IT professional’s nerves. But for those who tend toward introversion, certain aspects of the interviewing process prove particularly unappetizing. (Singing your own praises? Ugh.)

However, if you’re an introverted IT leader, you can work ahead to prepare for the challenges you will encounter. Remember, preparation is an introvert’s strong suit. Consider these 10 tips from recruiters, executive coaches, and communication experts:

1. Practice your small talk

The personal chit-chat that usually begins a job interview is intended to facilitate a comfortable interview. For introverts, though, there may be nothing worse than open-ended personal questions. “Prepare for the small-talk scenario by preparing some responses to likely ‘putting you at ease’ openers,” advises Ryan Scott, CTO at Atlanta-based DNA Behavior International, a behavioral training, consulting, and technology provider.
Introverts have the tendency to provide short, concise responses. You don't want to seem wooden or mechanical.

 

Consider how you’ll answer the “tell me about yourself” question and talk it through – not to the point that it sounds scripted, but until you know what you’d like to say.  “When it comes to answering questions, introverts have the tendency to provide short, concise responses. When I conduct initial mock interview sessions with technology professionals and engineering leaders [who are] more introverted, they can come across as wooden or mechanical,” says IT career advancement strategist Stephen Van Vreede.  “The more comfortable you become talking about yourself, the more natural and confident you'll be in an interview setting.”

2. Do your homework on company pain points

This is where the analytical introvert can shine. “Introverts tend to be more analytical, so they should leverage that skill to gain insight into any potential opportunities or concerns they may not be evident to extroverts,” Van Vreede says. “This can give them a leg up by enabling them to focus on solutions for specific pain points of the company. Or, it can help them avoid a possible negative or bad-fit situation.” 

[ Can introverts shine at times of great change ? Read 5 big myths about introverts in IT. ]

3. Consider recording yourself

After you do your homework, draft a set of questions you are likely to be asked and record yourself as you practice your answers out loud. “Check out body language, responses to questions and learn from what you see,” says Scott.

4. Turn hypotheticals into experiences

Since introverts tend to be more comfortable talking about the factual than the theoretical, the “How would you deal with…” questions can throw them. “Think through your experience and identify a set of case studies or stories that align with the role objectives and practice talking through them out loud,” advises Margery Myers, a consultant and coach with Bates Communications who works with CIOs and other corporate leaders on executive communication. Should the hypothetical not be a good match for the anecdotes prepared, “An introvert faced with a speculative question might quickly imagine a factually based aspect of the scenario and respond to that,” says Scott.

5. Take a crash course in introvert power

Get ideas for those dreaded “strength and weakness” questions.

Read up about how to harness the power of introversion before the interview. There are some great books to choose from, including Susan Cain’s  Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking and Sophia Dembling’s The Introvert's Way: Living A Quiet Life in A Noisy World. Among the reports on this topic, check out one from Chicago-based consultancy ghSmart: Their researchers spent ten years analyzing the personalities of 2,000 CEOs and found that the most successful leaders were introverts.  

Such study can help IT leaders better understand the true nature of their introversion and its benefits. It can also spark ideas for those dreaded “strength and weakness” questions: Explore the evidence that introverts can be skilled planners, passionate innovators, good relationship builders, dedicated executers, smart risk takers, excellent listeners, and savvy problem solvers. “Don’t apologize for being an introvert,” says Scott. “Discussions and evidence are now revealing that Introverts tend to be successful entrepreneurs and leaders as they have the inherent ability to concentrate, strategize, and implement sound business practices.”

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Stephanie Overby is an award-winning reporter and editor with more than twenty years of professional journalism experience. For the last decade, her work has focused on the intersection of business and technology. She lives in Boston, Mass.

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