Job Interviewing Tips for Shy People

Part of the Job Interviews For Dummies Cheat Sheet

Are you a bundle of nerves during job interviews? Does your shyness make your mind go blank at inopportune moments? If interviews make you feel like you’re up to bat with two outs and the bases loaded, remember these tips on handling the pressure:

  • Show and tell with striking visuals. Bring along a highly selective sample of your accomplishments (no landfills). These could be praise letters from former bosses and clients, achievement awards, charts of goals reached — any attractive document that underlines your qualifications for the job you seek. Your visuals can do your talking for you when you’re stumped for an answer and need recovery time.

  • Speak up with a success sheet. Create a one-page accomplishments document with a short description of up to 10 of your achievements. When a difficult question erases your memory banks, you can say “I am very interested in this job and a bit nervous. I’m drawing a blank. But I may have something related to your question here on my accomplishments page. . . Ah, here it is. . .” Glancing over your success sheet may uncork your brain.

  • Play for time. Rehearse in advance a phrase or two that will give you time to collect your wits. “What a good question! Is it okay if I take a few seconds to give you a responsible answer?” And then write the question in your notebook. (Just don't say it in a way that sounds as though you have short-term memory loss!)

  • Get an interview coach. Look around for a strong career coach, especially one with a specialty in interview prep. Alternatively, find a business friend with a digital camcorder or webcam who will rehearse with you until you’re no longer scared of the interview monster. If you’re looking ahead to interviews in a year or so, find a public speaking group such as Toastmasters where you can speak enough to gain poise and confidence.

  • Load up on questions. Shy people often freeze up toward the end of the interview, when the interviewer asks “Do you have questions?” Asking smart questions conveys your interest in the job and in the employer. Pull out your notebook, if you need prompts, and ask “What do you expect the person you hire to accomplish in the first six months?” “What training would I receive?” “Why is this position open — what happened to the person who formerly held it?”

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Job Interviews For Dummies Cheat Sheet

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