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Introvert interviewing in a Competitive City


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After 7 interviews this year, I started reading the book "Nice Girls don't Get the Corner Office." In my late 30's and still working customer service-type of jobs at non-profits (with a lot of past knowledge of part-time teaching, volunteer, coordinating school groups, art events, community events, knowing people at pretty much every art and cultural institution in the city), I still can't get that hurdle of getting a middle to senior level Education-type of Manager position (even interviewing at my own company that I've been with the last 5 years! Yes- each department only has 2 people running it, I understand).

 

I am very convinced its: 1. projecting my confidence 2. my social skills/ability to maneuver through and around a conversation 3. ability to speak loudly, concisely, without jumbled words/thoughts 4. my introverted-ness. 5. carrying around sadness from past job treatment

 

I was recently a part-time coordinator with 2 millenials (both were 22 and 23) and they were shocked that I had just turned 37 because "I seemed very, very young." Being a super thin, asian female, with a pip-squeak voice, a sunny-west-coast-like mannerisms, a docile-like sleepy demeanor til 11am, in an open-floor-plan Office, made it very difficult for me. I realized that that wasn't the type of environment that fit me (groups of people chatting away at 9am, felt like high school. Interns got hired into part-time Manager positions).

 

I should be okay with my "Power of Quiet," but at the same time, feel that I should really work on my "Work Persona," hopefully my overall persona will become more extroverted (easier said than done, since I spend most of my time alone- Should I even be forcing myself to be someone else?). Really, Groups, just Totally scare me. I rarely give my opinion or chime in on a social level. I did make friendships with coworkers and educators on a one-on-one basis, worked hard, even the Departmental President said that "I did well there." on my last day.

 

Overall, I Just. Could. Not break the ice with the 15 full-time Office staff (many 10years younger that me). Sometimes I'd try to make small talk at the copier or passing by and they look scared. It's the struggle of talking to an introvert. Why talk to me, when I don't talk in the Office during normal social interactions? Or they feel that they have to match my soft pip-squeak voice- SO annoying. Maybe people don't have the patience for my slow conversation & possibly feel on the spot?

 

I do feel I speak and represent myself confidently 1. in front of groups of children 2. talking about topics that I'm interested in or recent things in my life (to people I know don't judge and/or respect me). Don't get me started on emotional, drama, or gossip topics! 3. in a few lectures about my ideas and in my field to adults

 

Is it primarily an issue where I feel I have the respect and attention of my listener, then I'm a bit more comfortable? This post is filled with hypothesi and many thoughts. Would be interested in hearing what you think and any advice.

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I think you're engaging in a lot of mind-reading and assumptions about what people think of you when you try to start conversations with them, and those automatic thoughts you have are preventing you from starting new convos, then when you do, they are making you feel discouraged by any result you do get. Have you looked into any books on CBT, specifically geared toward social anxiety?

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I am an introvert as is my boss and many other managers I know. It doesn't sound like introversion is your issue. Introversion is about how you get your energy. Rather, it sounds like you have some level of social anxiety. Perhaps you can talk to a mentor about this?

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After 7 interviews this year, I started reading the book "Nice Girls don't Get the Corner Office." In my late 30's and still working customer service-type of jobs at non-profits (with a lot of past knowledge of part-time teaching, volunteer, coordinating school groups, art events, community events, knowing people at pretty much every art and cultural institution in the city), I still can't get that hurdle of getting a middle to senior level Education-type of Manager position (even interviewing at my own company that I've been with the last 5 years! Yes- each department only has 2 people running it, I understand).

 

This is your goal? Seriously? do you even realize, understand or know what "manager position" means? It means you will be hated by everyone, by default. You will have a tremendous responsibility, lots of pressure and deal with a WHOLE lot of BS and drama.

 

I don't think you realize what you are getting into.....seriously. And if you ever get there, I have a feeling you will be deeply disappointed that this was your goal to begin with.

 

I am very convinced its: 1. projecting my confidence 2. my social skills/ability to maneuver through and around a conversation 3. ability to speak loudly, concisely, without jumbled words/thoughts 4. my introverted-ness. 5. carrying around sadness from past job treatment

 

If you think hard work, great person, great confidence and social skill, ability etc will result in you having that corner office and "being a manager".....then you in for a shock.

 

LUCK (that's right), ROLL OF THE DICE is more important than all of those things. Sure, many of the things you talked about come into play but from what I've seen over the years (20 years, 3 careers and dozen + jobs.....dealing with top 100 corps)...that is not the case at all.

 

In order to climb the corporate ladder, first you need to become the biggest BS and ass kisser world has ever seen. THAT is probably more important than any of the things you talked about. That's right. You have to put your morals aside, become the biggest actor and be CUT THROAT yourself.

 

And even then, chances of you climbing the ladder are SLIM.....while you are already creating enemies in your work environment and around you.

 

Best way to do it is simply knowing the right person/networking.

 

And I'm also sure there are SOME companies that you can accomplish your goals with by skill and hard work, I'm telling you there aren't many companies like that.

 

Anyways, I think you simply don't know what you are getting into and what "being high level manager" entails. I won't even get into the stress and health effects it will have long term.

 

Ideal situation in the corporate world is to find a job that requires the least responsibility at the highest pay off and the least amount of work. If ANY of that sounds weird to you.....well, in that case you have a LOT to learn.

 

Good luck

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Interesting observations.. something is definitely preventing me for participating. I always hang back and kind of am checked out when in group situations. Unless i'm with friends who can have side conversations with me.

 

Sorry that you've had bad experiences with companies, what I meant by "middle-senior position" is Assistant or Head of Educatioin at a little Arts Center or Library, instead of the Cashier...I'm 37 ;-/

 

I left the job with the open office plan, and am still part-time at this little Arts Center, where there are a lot of introverts.

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While there is merit to working on your weak points, I think it's best for your career to work on your strengths and excel in those areas. It doesn't sound like you'd even enjoy being a manager. Think of what you would enjoy and what you know you could be good at and then go for that.

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  • 1 month later...

Happy to report back and I am still cashier/front desk at one part-time, but also got another part-time as admin & front desk. It's a small staff of 7 and I got the job because I was in an art show there in the Fall and befriended the Curator (a fellow artist in the borough). She is so laid-back and supportive. I mentioned her in my cover letter and now I just finished my first week there. The Executive Director asked me about my past job duties (she couldn't believe I was handling so much as a part-time office/gallery manager), and asked "What is it that you want to do?" She said that she wants employees that will grow with the organization and that she does have one full-time as-of-yet undefined position that she needs to fill. They are giving me web, marketing, & research, tasks that I can do while sitting at the front. I am being positive!

 

To note: I didn't feel an ounce of shyness while talking to any of the staff there. It is quite refreshing.

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I agree with one of the other posters, it sounds like you need a professional development coach or mentor to help you work through some of the problems you are facing. And you are not alone in the things you have been going through. It is very common for individuals to face some of the things you mentioned as they try to find their place in their company or position.

 

You can most definitely be an introvert and be a successful manager, so you can't really use that as the reasoning. It is possible you are trying to engage with the individuals on a level that you think they should respond and forcing a relationship so to speak instead of allowing who you are to break the ice and connect you with your employees.

 

Again, strong suggestion would be to get professional assistance and coaching, even minor level.

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  • 1 year later...

It's interesting how old habits die hard. I've been full-time at this small arts center, handling a lot of coordinating duties for the space, programs, rentals, marketing, and even MC-ing the monthly music/poetry/art night (Visitors have told me that I have a pleasant demeanor). And I'm exhausted due to the many roles and things I have to keep on top of. My boss comes up with ideas and passes it off to me to execute (she thrives on multi-tasking & doesn't get why others can't do it). In the beginning I had crazy anxiety, my other higher level co-worker always says: "My head is spinning." I'm managing better now, However, during my 6mo. review, my Boss said that I need to bring more, this is a great opportunity as a Programs Assistant (besides the 2 monthly events we have, a music festival, a 2-day children's festival, 2 choreographer partnerships, a 12-wk artists workshop??). She sees the good job and hard work that I'm doing, but that I need to be more assertive, and kind of threatened me for another review in 3 mos.

 

Had opinions about artists and musicians that I wanted to bring in and she always said no, I gave up on giving advice and tried to be enthusiastic about her ideas. During Staff Meetings, my mind just goes blank!! I've inserted one or two things, but mainly pre-oocupied 'Maintaining' everything for this job. Boss seems to Love the people who Yes, yesses her, laughs at all her jokes. I'm comfortable chatting with the small staff on occasion, but yes- during meetings, I totally hang back. I'm an observer, but it's not conducive to most work environments, obviously. Yes, working on this in Therapy. ("I'm rejecting myself before I even say anything." You seem conflicted: okay with being introverted, at same time want people to know things about you.")

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