“Even doves have pride…”​ Introverts and job interviews, or how to survive an ordeal that just isn’t into you….

Posted On 24th September 2020

Introvert? Welcome, member of the despised underclass of the job seeking tribe. Pull up a seat and get ready to feel a bit better about things, as a fellow introvert who bizarrely and improbably was a headhunter for a dozen years gives you a palatable piece of advice…

I have no idea who invented the competency based interview (which as a former headhunter and a trained diplomatic historian to boot is pretty unforgivable isn’t it?) but I’m sure they were an extrovert. After all, the basic idea is to show off more than all the other victims of this show trial and only someone who just wants it ALL to be about them is going to enjoy that. And introverts don’t, do we? We just want to be authentic and be seen for who we are without having to pretend we’re amazing. No one’s amazing. Fact.

But in an interview you are what you pretend to be and about 2/3rds of the human race is just so much better at pretending than we are, aren’t they?

There are, or were before a nasty little strand of protein coated RNA jumped the species barrier and brought the world to a halt, around 32 million people in the UK workforce alone. Any “rule”, “tip”, “tactic” or God help us “strategy” is going to be rumbled by tanker loads of exceptions. Certainly anything I could write in an ephemeral LinkedIn blog post has zero chance of being comprehensive.

So look at it this way. Your job in an interview is to give the panel a reason to hire you, and to eliminate as many as you can of the reasons not to. And that’s about it. THEIR job, the panel, the jury, the grand inquisitors is to get it right. It’s not the easiest of jobs I admit, but having sat in on squillions of interviews in all truth I can say with utter conviction that most of them are crap. They are crap in so many ways I don’t have a hope of dissecting them here.

But if there is an “Ur” reason it’s under-training and an inability to analyse qualitative data. That’s why introverted contemporary historians make such good interviewers. Plug.

So, accept it’s a flawed system and you can only do so much. Know the reasons why hiring you would not be a mistake and be primed to communicate them. Think in all humility (and you’ll be good at this) about the reasons not to hire you and plan how you’re going to try and avoid discussing them. Then just go in there and be authentic and leave the fireworks to the show offs, and hope the wannabe Solomons know what they are doing.

Don’t try to be someone you’re not even though the process is bending you double to do that. It won’t end well. You’re not a peacock. “Even doves have pride….”


David Welsh

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