How to Overcome Shyness During a Panel Interview

HCshypanelinterviewMost everyone experiences some anxiety during a job interview. A panel interview, where you’re facing two or more critical decision-makers, can cause extreme stress and turn the interview into a grueling encounter — especially if you have a shy, or introverted, personality.

“To an introvert the stress is magnified and the fear they experience may result in cancelled interviews or poor performance,” says Carol Caico, PhD, CS, NP, an assistant professor of nursing, New York Institute of Technology School of Health Professions. “A certain amount of anxiety is normal, but when it interferes with a goal … it becomes detrimental.”

Plan and practice

Instead of becoming unglued or convinced your interview performance will underwhelm instead of impress, take time to review your strengths and practice your responses, hiring managers and nursing leaders say. You can deliver a strong impression even if the beginning of the interview was shaky.

“It is an extroverted world of work and it’s hard to get an introvert, or shy person, to come in and dazzle an interview panel,” says Rebecca Freeman, chief nursing information officer and the manager of nursing informatics at Medical University of South Carolina.

“If I could say one thing to the folks who struggle with this format, it would be to really step up when they are asked ‘What are your strengths’ or ‘Is there anything you would like to add or ask?’ This is when they need to talk about their strength of character.”

Sell yourself

Introverts should talk about “their contemplative approach, their steadiness, their quiet fortitude and the fact their approach to work and caring for patients may not be well-suited for a panel interview, but it will be exceptional as part of the mix on a given unit,” Freeman says.

To reduce anxiety and help you do well, consider taking these steps:

  • Build your confidence by researching the company and position.
  • Prepare some conversation starters to help you engage in small talk.
  • Plan how you will market yourself. Think about the qualities that are associated with introverts “that may be viewed as weaknesses and how they can be strengths,” says Freeman. For example, you could say, ‘‘I’m quiet because I’m thinking of solutions, not because I’m not paying attention or have nothing to contribute.’”
  • Prepare for the interview by practicing with a friend. If your anxiety is severe, consider professional help. “A therapist would work on relaxation techniques and cognitive therapy,” says Caico. “With help, the undesired behavior can change.”
  • Rehearse. For introverts, “practice is even more essential,” says Pam Treister, MSN, CNS, RN, clinical instructor at  the department of nursing, New York Institute of Technology School of Health Professions. “If necessary use a tape recorder to practice answering questions.”

Related article:
How to Come Out of Your Shell at Interview Time

© Health Callings, Dice Holdings Inc., 2013


About Robin Farmer

Robin Farmer is a versatile freelance journalist with a focus on health, business and education. A former newspaper reporter with an investigative background, she is a recipient of the Knight-Wallace Fellowship at the University of Michigan. Robin writes to engage, educate and empower readers. She lives in Virginia.

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