How to be a successful introvert
Whether on the bus or in a coffee shop – Katrin finds it easy to approach people. A comment on the weather, a question about a book – and in no time she is engaged in an animated conversation. Lively and communicative, Katrin sees herself as outgoing and extrovert.
Michael could hardly be more different. He feels comfortable in his own company -retiring to watch a good film or sitting in the park with a book. He both enjoys and needs time for reflection. With close friends he opens up, exchanging ideas and views about everything under the sun.
Katrin is clearly the extrovert whereas Michael tends to be more the introvert. But how do they compare in a special situation, for example a job interview, where the candidates have to present themselves? Is extroversion always the key?
Who would fit in better with Boehringer Ingelheim – what do you think?
For many people the answer seems to be clear: when qualifications and experience are comparable, the extroverted applicant would still be one step ahead. A good team player, open, communicative, sociable and willing to take risks – all these characteristics form the stereotype of an extrovert. For the introvert, things look very different: their reserved manner can make them appear anxious, hesitant, disinterested, shy or even reclusive.
There’s no question - in our modern work environment, introverts tend to have the tougher job. On the other hand, extroverts like Katrin have an easier time of it. In the case of a job interview, things don’t look so very different. Katrin will have no problem in presenting herself in the best way. For Michael, this would clearly not be the case. For him the biggest challenge would lie in presenting himself to a stranger in the best possible way and in coming out of his shell. And yet he would have deserved an equal amount of our attention and our appreciation.
Because HR decision-makers know of course that especially introverted people have special qualities, which makes them virtually indispensible in every company. Being an introvert doesn’t relegate you to the sidelines. In fact as an introvert, you can find many areas where your unique talents and abilities are highly sought after – and not just within Boehringer Ingelheim. This article is designed to help you to apply successfully to Boehringer Ingelheim, by opening your eyes to a special and so far undervalued person: you.
Recognise your strengths for what they are
When you’re surrounded by confident extroverts, (who, it must be said, often love the sound of their own voices more than is good for them), you may feel that beside them, you easily stay unnoticed.
But instead of focusing on what you don’t have, start discovering those qualities that make introverts valuable – especially as potential employees for Boehringer Ingelheim. If you are anything like the typical introvert, then you have many hidden strengths. It’s time to start acknowledging them. A good place to start could be by reading Marti Olsen Laney’s book: The Introvert Advantage. And take the time to do her Self Assessment for Introverts.
Still waters run deep
As an introvert you are probably taking your most outstanding qualities for granted. So ask your friends and family for an honest assessment of what you are best at. For a start, most introverts are probably very good at listening. Good listeners are good at assessing a situation. They think carefully about how to respond instead of rushing into things. With the result that you may have, not the fastest, but the best solution to a problem.
And you’ll probably be good at working independently and thoroughly, and going into meetings well-prepared. In addition, you are probably very good at analysing, taking time to come up with a well thought through solution. You might also have strong powers of observation. And you are very aware of what happens around you. That’s why your input is highly valued by others. And you might be particularly adept at making intuitive connections, which often lead to innovative ideas. Online personality tests – not the kind that tell you if you’re good at flirting! – can also deliver some good insights. For example in helping you understand how you tick and what career is right for you.
Strategies for success
We say it all the time: be yourself and be true to yourself. Nonetheless there are some failsafe tips and strategies that have worked for even the most introverted introverts! For example, your body can learn a new language. If you ever raise your gaze and observe the people around you, you’ll probably recognise yourself on another chair – head down, knees together – a kindred spirit. Yet you can easily teach your body, not only to radiate a degree of confidence – but you can actually instil some confidence in yourself as well.
The other great exercise is to do what even actors do: practicing in front of a mirror. Out loud. Do it prior to your job interview. You’ll be surprised how difficult – and how effective - it is to master being interviewed by your reflection. When the real interview situation arises, you’ll be so much better prepared. Which brings us to the next point:
Preparation is everything
You could start by doing some online research to find out how others have rated their interview – e.g. Kununu is good for insights and information. And then start looking forward to your own. Write down any questions that you have in advance – that way you won’t forget anything and you won’t be lost for words on the day. We certainly won’t think any the worse of you if you come well prepared with a list of things to ask. And in addition, it emphasises your motivation and your interest in the job and our company.
Don’t only prepare your own questions: also be prepared to answer the typical job interview questions. Go through the interview situation in your head and be ready to answer the questions “What do you think are your strongest points?” and “Tell us what role you normally play within a team”. Think of some examples beforehand that you want to tell us about. What about appearance? It makes sense to look smart but choose something that isn’t restrictive and that makes you feel good about yourself in it. Apart from that, go easy on perfume, jewellery and make-up. We would like to see the real you. Don’t try to be perfect – just let your personality shine through!
You never get a second chance to make a first impression
That’s only too true, so before going after the job you’ve always dreamed of, try going for an interview somewhere else. It always helps to have a couple of trial interviews under your belt before the big one comes up. Career and job fairs can also offer a wonderful opportunity to connect to companies and chat with recruiters. That will enhance your communication skills and will give you more self-confidence, when it comes to real job interviews.
Mastering the interview
It’s normal to be nervous - everyone is in this situation. But you don’t have to let it control you. By the way, the younger you are, the more understanding we have for your situation - so don’t worry about your lack of experience. Remember that you have already got over the first hurdle – you have convinced us here at BI that we should get to know you better – and we are looking forward to meeting you in a positive atmosphere.
So let’s look at the dos and don’ts
1. First the handshake – always shake hands firmly
2. Eye contact is very important – and polite
3. People like to be addressed by name – so use their name when you say hello
4. Small Talk: The easiest way to establish an initial contact is by asking a question. You could prepare one or two beforehand. It allows you to show interest and to shine at what you’re good at: listening.
5. Smile – that signals to others that you are open-minded and willing to communicate
6. Get comfortable in the chair – don’t perch on the edge, just lean back against the chair.
7. Find a good position for your hands – folded arms send a negative message; you may want to just lay them in your lap
8. And do accept the offer of a drink: first it’s polite, and secondly it might be an opportunity to engage in some small talk.
Now if you’ve followed the tips for better body language and your interview with the mirror, you’ll be off to a great start.
Summing things up:
Believe in yourself and your abilities. We are looking for someone just like you It’s a common misconception that the extroverts always do better. There are many jobs where you as an introvert are simply the better choice.
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