“He said I wasn't a good fit for the position because I was shy. ... How can I avoid similar problems in the future?”

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Q: At the end of a recent interview, the manager told me that I would not be getting the job. He said I wasn’t a good fit for the position because I was shy. As a naturally introverted person, I found this very discouraging. How can I avoid similar problems in the future?

A: If this manager based his conclusion on observations, perhaps interview anxiety hampered your ability to project your personality or answer questions fluently. In that case, the solution is to sharpen your interview skills. Ask a friend with hiring experience to provide some structured practice, followed by honest feedback and helpful coaching.

But if you voluntarily labeled yourself as shy, you should either avoid that description or neutralize it with a positive twist. For example, if shyness is your standard response to the inevitable question about weaknesses, you can improve your answer with examples showing how you successfully overcame your natural reticence.

It might also help to understand the difference between shyness and introversion. For introverts, extended interaction is physically tiring, so they tend to limit the time they spend with others. Shy folks, on the other hand, become anxious in social situations and often withdraw or shut down. While it’s possible to be both shy and introverted, the two are not synonymous.

Finally, to find a job which suits your personality, you must carefully select your search targets. A sales position requiring constant interaction, for example, would not appeal to anyone who is either introverted or shy. So if this lost opportunity involved extensive interpersonal contact, perhaps you should be thankful that you were screened out.