how even shy HR pros can shine during the interview

  • interviews
  • May 19, 2017
As a human resources professional, you’ve probably conducted your fair share of interviews. You know the right questions to ask to find the best match for your organization. But what do you do when the tables are turned — especially if you tend to get nervous in stressful situations?

If you’re an introverted or shy HR professional, interviewing can be extremely daunting. Despite your background, it’s sometimes hard for a reserved people to sell themselves. In fact, trying to do so is often the toughest piece of the job search puzzle. But remember, you’re not alone. Most people don’t enjoy interviewing and fear they won’t have what it takes to win over prospective employers.

The good news is there are things shy HR pros can do to build confidence and ease shaky nerves. Here are a few ways to turn your HR job interviews into offers:

Reduce stress

Consider taking some time to relax before the interview. Stretching and mindful breathing can be helpful. It also helps to plan your travel to the onsite interview, giving yourself plenty of extra time to get there.

Prepare and practice

A little preparation can go a long way, especially if you’re introverted. By reviewing the job description, you can often predict the questions asked in the interview. Once that is done, start to develop answers regarding your achievements. Think of talking about your accomplishments as sharing information about yourself rather than bragging. This approach can make the whole experience less uncomfortable and help you answer questions about your skills.

Consider bringing physical proof of your accomplishments. Sometimes it is easier for shy people to have a portfolio or presentation. It also gives them something to do with nervous hands.

And remember to come armed not only with talking points about your qualifications for the job, but also with small talk you can rely on. Doing this is crucial for shy HR professionals who have a hard time at spontaneous banter.

Hiring managers evaluate job candidates on how their answers to questions demonstrate an ability to do a job well. At the same time, the questions candidates ask tell interviewers a lot about the person, his or her competence and likely engagement with the position. Stand out from the competition by asking smart questions.

For example, an HR professional who asks, “What is the biggest challenge your company faces this year?” shows that the interviewee is engaged with the business. This tactic also encourages the interviewer to tell the candidate more about the company and what type of candidate they are hoping to recruit. When candidates answer questions thoughtfully and follow up with questions that show real engagement with the opportunity, they can turn a one-sided examination into a two-way conversation.


Introverts often have a more complex way of processing thoughts, so take time answering tough questions. If you need a moment to formulate an answer, let the interviewer know by saying, “That's an interesting question. Let me think about it for a second.”

Show enthusiasm

It often doesn’t feel natural to be bubbly and excited when speaking to new contacts, particularly those assessing you for a new HR job. But hiring managers want to know that the HR professional they’re interviewing is genuinely enthusiastic about the opportunity and worth the risk of bringing on board. Let them know that this is a position you can feel proud of.   
With a better understanding of what the interview process can offer and the tools to identify what the employer wants, HR professionals can turn their fear of job interviews into a career-management strength. And learning what it takes to ace interviews will pay off not only in their careers, but in a lifetime of improved communication skills.
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