Screening, Assessment, Interviewing

Are You Ignoring the Strengths of Introverts?

They sometimes come across as shy, aloof or even disinterested. In comparison to extrovert job candidates, they may seem less likely to take charge, less inclined to aggressively pursue goals.

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However, you don’t want to make assumptions about introverts, because you could very well turn out to be wrong.

Different Approach

In a blog post, business executive, speaker, coach, and bestselling author Skip Prichard, attempts to set the record straight. “One of the biggest misconceptions about leadership remains that you must be or should be an extrovert in order to succeed,” he says.

Introverts simply take a different approach. Prichard uses meetings as an example. Extroverts get their energy from connecting with others and tend to think aloud, he explains. As a result, they will often be the first ones to offer ideas. By contrast, introverts are more reflective. They are more inclined to come up with ideas after the meeting is over.

Prichard also points out that introverted leaders don’t typically initiate conversations with their managers. “Because they often fly under the radar and aren’t the ‘squeaky wheel,’ their accomplishments may get overlooked,” he says.

This doesn’t mean introverts are lacking when it comes to accomplishments.

Personality Differences

The Myers & Briggs Foundation, which continues the work of psychological type based on the well-known personality test the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI), provides information at its website that offers additional insight into the differences between extroverts and introverts.

Extraversion (E)

I like getting my energy from active involvement in events and having a lot of different activities. I’m excited when I’m around people and I like to energize other people. I like moving into action and making things happen. I generally feel at home in the world. I often understand a problem better when I can talk out loud about it and hear what others have to say.

The following statements generally apply to me:

  • I am seen as “outgoing” or as a “people person.”
  • I feel comfortable in groups and like working in them.
  • I have a wide range of friends and know lots of people.
  • I sometimes jump too quickly into an activity and don’t allow enough time to think it over.
  • Before I start a project, I sometimes forget to stop and get clear on what I want to do and why.

Introversion (I)

I like getting my energy from dealing with the ideas, pictures, memories, and reactions that are inside my head, in my inner world. I often prefer doing things alone or with one or two people I feel comfortable with. I take time to reflect so that I have a clear idea of what I’ll be doing when I decide to act. Ideas are almost solid things for me. Sometimes I like the idea of something better than the real thing.
The following statements generally apply to me:

  • I am seen as “reflective” or “reserved.”
  • I feel comfortable being alone and like things I can do on my own.
  • I prefer to know just a few people well.
  • I sometimes spend too much time reflecting and don’t move into action quickly enough.
  • I sometimes forget to check with the outside world to see if my ideas really fit the experience.

Assessing Candidates

As you can see, extroverts and introverts have different strengths, and different potential weaknesses. Recognizing an introvert, and assessing whether he or she is quiet yet powerful may require a more focused approach to interviewing.

While an extrovert will readily share and elaborate on his or her accomplishments, an introvert may come across as quiet and reserved. In other words, the person may not be great at interviewing, at least initially.

You may believe that the onus is on candidates to impress recruiters and hiring managers, but keep in mind not everyone is wired the same way. A little extra effort on your part – which includes creating a welcoming, relaxed environment and asking thoughtful, behavioral-based interview questions – will encourage introverted candidates to open up and talk about themselves. When they do, you may discover some very strong candidates.

Paula Paula Santonocito, Contributing Editor for Recruiting Daily Advisor, is a business journalist specializing in employment issues. She is the author of more than 1,000 articles on a wide range of human resource and career topics, with an emphasis on recruiting and hiring. Her articles have been featured in many global and domestic publications and information outlets, referenced in academic and legal publications as well as books, and translated into several languages.