Interviewing & Public Speaking for Introverts: A Guide

In my opinion, one of my best and worst qualities is that I’m an introvert. I love being an introvert, but even throughout college it’s been difficult. It’s hard to get people to understand that you may want to spend a Saturday night reading a good book or watching videos online without anyone else surrounding you. And since college more than anywhere else will force you to be an extroverted introvert (i.e. participate in a lot of clubs/activities/committees/etc.) sometimes I need my weekends/weeknights as a cooling off procedure.

Gator34

Don’t worry guys, the gator is shy as well. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

When it comes to networking, job interviews, and public speaking, it’s a completely different ballpark. While there’s been plenty of articles written to show how “socially inept” the Millennial generation is because of social media and our propensity to take selfies, post our entire lives online, and feed into our narcissistic personalities, I’d argue that most societies still celebrate extroverted personalities. And that makes sense. Very little would get done w/o great speakers or those who are willing to be active talkers, but sometimes it’s frustrating that the nature of quiet isn’t appreciated. This is very apparent with public speaking and job interviews, which come off as kryptonite to many introverts. So for all of those ambitious introverts like myself, here are a few tips for your next big speaking event:

1) Utilize your body language

Power poses are one of the best things you can do to gain confidence before and during an interview. Relax your shoulders, position your feet towards the person (or people) you’re speaking to, and converse in a lower tone. Especially for women, many of us tend to raise the pitch of our voice when we’re nervous or to appear more feminine. I’ve done this many times myself. Don’t second guess your abilities or feel insecure. They wouldn’t have bothered to call you back for an interview or asked you to give a speech if there wasn’t something of interest in your profile that stood out to them, so be confident and speak in a clear, deep tone. Additionally, practice power-boosting poses. Stand up, put your hands on your hips, and focus on building confidence before beginning an interview or speech.

2) Always keep eye contact

This one probably doesn’t need explanation, but it’s a hard one. Your friends and family won’t notice if you lost eye contact, and most of the time you’re so comfortable talking to them that direct eye contact comes naturally. If you feel yourself slipping during an interview, pause, take a deep breath and/or close your eyes, and then resume. It’s better to make a semi-dramatic pause as a way to collect your thoughts instead of loosing eye contact and seeming unsure of yourself.

3) If you make a mistake, breathe and start again

At some point, you’ll have an awkward bout of silence. People will laugh when you didn’t mean to be funny. You’ll trip. Life goes on. Most interviewers are empathetic and understand this may be your first time dealing with this situation. Either way, it’s OK. Breathe. Relax. Say, “Let me clarify that a bit more/Let me start over/etc.” No one wants to deal with embarrassment, but you’ll be fine. Learn from it, and move on.

4) Fake it till you make it

A lot of people have problems with interviewing because they don’t know how to sell themselves. So think about it: how badly do you want this position? I’m not asking you to fake a personality or be disingenuous, but if faking how excited you are is the best way for you to overcome these issues, then do it. Pretend you’re meeting your favorite celebrity, or you’re auditioning for a role. If you’re giving a speech, imagine that you have the best product in the world, and the only way it will reach people is by hearing your words. Or pretend you’re discussing a new idea to your friends, and focus on your personal brand. At the end of the day, there’s a thousand people who have the qualifications and experience, but only you can bring yourself to the table. Show them your personality and skills, and don’t shy away from showing how great you are.

If you have any other tips on interviews/public speaking, be sure to share them in the comments!

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