I think it’s fair to say that most people dislike job interviews.
And for HSPs, they are extra super not-fun.
My rant: Unless you are interviewing for a job where interviewing will be your function, then being judged by your performance in an interview doesn’t make much sense. If I’m a writer, who cares if I perform well in an interview? All that matters is that my work is good and that I can function well in the workplace.
Some might say, “Being able to think on your feet and speak intelligently in front of other people is a skill needed in many jobs.”
I say: Unless you are doing interviews for a living, it doesn’t matter. Few people have jobs where they need to speak intelligently in public, off-the-cuff, to questions they had no idea of beforehand.
That’s the key—off-the-cuff. Much public speaking done in jobs can be practiced and rehearsed. I enjoy speaking in front of people—if I’ve had time to prepare. But in job interviews, you can’t know which questions you’ll be asked. You have to hear a question and answer it instantly.
HSPs like to think about what they say before they say it. Thus, they are not particularly good at thinking on their feet. When I’m asked a question, I want to ponder it and give a thoughtful, accurate answer, not just blurt out the first thing that pops into my head.
Since I’m more in-tuned to other people’s emotions, I’m extra self-conscious about what I say, how I act, and how I look. These worries can make me appear even more nervous. It is difficult for me to perform when I know I’m being closely judged for every single thing I say.
Here are Some Tips to Get Through Interviews Anyway
The best tip I can give you is this: fake it ‘til you make it. Even if you feel nervous, unprepared, and underqualified, act like you’re not. Act like you know you are awesome and perfect for this job. They’d be crazy not to want you—you’re a catch. Thinking this way helps to calm your nerves, because it turns things around: the interviewers are the ones who are lucky enough to be learning more about you today—not vice-versa.
Tip #2: Tell the interviewer what they want to hear (but don’t lie). HSPs tend to be humble. In an interview, you don’t want to brag, but you need to be confident about your accomplishments. Deep down, you know the answers the interviewer wants to hear. Give them what they want.
Don’t downplay your accomplishments. Think about the other people interviewing for the same job. Do you think they are trying to be humble? Nope. They are trying to impress the interviewer. Give yourself every advantage.
Let’s say they ask you if you have a certain skill that you do not have–for example, “Do you have experience with Photoshop?” Instead of simply saying “No” you could say something like, “I’ve tinkered with it and I looked into taking a class. I have used some other photo editing software called [fill in the blank]. I’m a fast learner, so I’d be eager to learn the software.” You get the idea. Think about what answer you would want to hear if you were the interviewer.
Tip #3: Why not try something outside the box? If you know the interview isn’t going great, what if you came clean and offered to show off your skills another way? What if you were super honest and said, “Look, being interviewed is not one of my greatest strengths. But I know I’d be a great fit for this job because [list reasons why.]”
(Before trying this tactic, get a feel for the interviewer. If he or she seems uptight and traditional, this might come across as unprofessional. But if the interviewer seems laid back, this might work. You never know–they might totally get it.)
For a writing or marketing job, try this: “I really want to show you what I can do. I’d be happy to do a writing sample that could help me prove to you that I’d be a great fit for this job.” Or, ask them if you could email them some of your writing samples after the interview (and don’t forget to do it!)
Think about this: there’s a chance the person interviewing you doesn’t really know what they are doing, either–especially if they aren’t in HR. I’ve been in charge of interviews before and had zero training on how to do it. I winged it! Sometimes the person interviewing you has been too busy to prepare much beforehand, either. Interviewers are normal people just like you.
So for now, act like you are awesome, that the interviewing company would be lucky to have you, and if all else fails, tell them you know you stink an interviews and ask if you can prove your skills another way.