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Your Personality Might be Hindering You From Getting a Job. Here's Why.

Portrait of young womanIf you’ve ever walked out of an interview room and you thought to yourself; “why couldn’t I say a word?” then you are so not alone. This happens to so many job seekers; everywhere, everyday. But that’s no excuse because obviously, it doesn’t get you the job.

To start with; people hire people, CVs only go as far as getting you interviews; and interviews are primarily meant to allow you the candidate defend your qualification as well as prove you can work with people. It then goes without saying that teamwork is a core skill every jobseeker is expected to possess; because we live in a social world, despite the advent of technology and the ever widening communication gap it creates, our daily activities still revolve around people and recruiters hire you if they feel comfortable with you during the interview. This is the point where interviewers measure your demeanor above your potentials for performance. So yes, work is more social than functional.

Far back into childhood, you must have heard or read about types of personalities – Extoverts and Introverts. The extroverts are the all-in-your-face type, they can start a conversation with anybody and are sometimes on the borderline of confidence and arrogance; but intoverts are exact opposites, largely known for their few words and unsociable stance.

Whether you are fearless and brave or quiet and reserved; acing an interview requires a blend of both personalities because as science and my experience would have it, people who make fine salespeople are called AMBIVERTS : people in these category fall in the range of outspoken to withdrawn. They are “half-extroverts half-introverts”. The kinds of people who know when to act or talk and most importantly, when to shut up.

So what has this got to do with Interviews or job seeking? Many things. For one, we are all in sales. Whatever we do, we are trying to sell something to someone; whether we are trying to get a spouse or to earn someone’s trust, these are to sell something to the other person or a set of people.

And if you’d know, I’m pitching this post to you because I want to sell you my point of view; sales is not only about getting money out of people’s wallets, it’s mostly to make a point and get others to stand with you. Dan pink explains in this article why people who combine both personality types make the finest salespeople in today’s world, as opposed to popular belief that extroverts are the ones with the best chance at closing sales deals.

I left school about  three years back; served last year. I have attended four job interviews post NYSC (all applications I made through Jobberman) and I was given offers with all four organisations; I currently work with one of them.

What lies beneath my success stories is simple: my ability to sell myself like an ambivert; to communicate my intentions clearly without being pushy, expressing my thoughts without raising eyebrows.

You may be very shy, reserved, withdrawn or you generally cannot tolerate people  and you don’t care so much to exchange more than the usual and quite convenient pleasantries with your neighbors and friends alike.  And this is probably your thorn in the flesh in interviews; soon as you are in, it becomes a herculean task to look into the interviewer’s eyes or part your lips to say anything.
But the stark truth remains that you don’t go into interviews expecting your prospective employer to assume you can do the job, you usually have it in your power to convince the interviewer you are not just another desperate jobseeker.

Here’s an analogy of 3 jobseekers – with you as one of them – who were invited for the same interview; at your discretion, you can decide who got the job.

You are a first class graduate and you spent the better part of your school years working with teams on various projects, ranging from high-end technology development projects to petty paper work in other not-for-profits. As a result, you gathered ample experience for the corporate world. You are also an absolute introvert who prefers working alone; you only talk when you feel the need to, which is rarely at all.

You struggle to contribute about 3 lines in any topic of discussion, no matter how sizzling it is. Most of your friends and acquaintances can barely describe the colour of your eyes because as far as they can remember, you avoid people’s eyes, always.

You’d rather wave feebly at people with a wry smile than shake their hands firmly with a wide grin. You are perhaps the worst version of an introvert.

Then there goes Don Draper with a good degree, 3 years earlier experience in a similar role, and a killer look to top with. Don Draper is everybody’s man; he’s like the Charlie without his angels, dresses gaily and has a very high self-esteem, he could pass for a pendant and snob combined.
He sometimes sounds offish and arrogant but he tries to keep it in check. Mostly to keep the women around, and his job as well.

And James Bond, another introvert who unlike you, is well aware of his limitations. He knew he had the tendency to be boring and constantly practiced to carry on conversations for a long time with friends and family. Overtime, this became easy because he made his many mistakes with these people and got better at socialising with people.  He still remains an introvert and only acquired this skill for important and inevitable occasions like interviews and board meetings/presentations.

At the interview, you mumbled through all the questions you were asked; you were fidgety and could hardly get your answers straight out, you did not maintain eye-contact and of course, you bored the interviewer who managed to accommodate you through the interview.

Don Draper followed after and dazzled the interviewer with his confidence and straight-cut intelligent answers. The interviewer was entertained and impressed.  James then joined in. He was not totally breathtaking in his presentation, but he managed to get his message across and the interviewer was impressed.  The interviewer recognized that James is an introvert (Because HR persons can always tell your personality) and he was even more impressed at the efforts he made despite his natural limitations. Subconsciously, he compared you with James because you both are introverts and he concluded that James is relentless and a fighter, someone who is willing to learn and get better. “Extra points for James” he says.. Nothing for you, I guess.

My second guess also is that both Don Draper and James Bond will get to the final stage of the interview, because they learned to manage interactions with the interviewer.

On a last note; being an introvert doesn’t stop you from impressing an interviewer.

– Learn to express yourself, the best and perhaps easiest way to ace interviews is to be you.

– Maintain eye-contact: it shows you are confident and creates a rapport with the man behind the large mahogany table.

– Learn to do presentations and brand yourself: because you are actually presenting the brand You in interviews.

– Don’t just talk, communicate; and by that I mean understand the interviewer’s pain point then convince him you are the solution. Communication is not only about talking but also listening.

Practice and practice until you become perfect and you begin to ace interviews like piece of cakes.

I am not saying that introverts are not job-getters, but being an introvert doesn’t excuse your failure to sell your skills to employers.
Crawl out of your shell if you have to. It’s an entirely different ball game when you are seated in that room and you don’t want them to roll their eyes over you, trust me.



This article was written by ABIRI REKHIA KATHERINE, follow her on Twitter.

Nathan Jeffery
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