Updated: Aug 29
Let’s start with a quote from Francesca Gino in Harvard Business School which really encapsulates the theme behind this post and our post on extraversion:
“Team leaders who are extroverted can be highly effective leaders when the members of their team are dutiful followers looking for guidance from above. Extroverts bring the vision, assertiveness, energy, and networks necessary to give them direction. By contrast, when team members are proactive — and take the initiative to introduce changes, champion new visions, and promote better strategies — it is introverted leaders who have the advantage”
This quote perfectly highlights the need for companies to balance their hiring towards both introverts and extroverts. The hiring process typically places tremendous emphasis on interview performance, rewarding confidence, charisma, and fast-talking—all classic traits of the extrovert. To be clear—extroverts are great and sorely needed, too. But constantly favoring their exuberance and easy sociability can lead to a lopsided organization.
So why should recruiters care about hiring introverts? Is the ROI really that great?
YES. Research over the last few decades has shown that 1) introverted leaders outperform extroverted ones in many teams and that 2) extroverts contribute less than expected to team projects and the contributions they do make are less valued over time. Introverts have the frame of mind that is usually essentially for truly creative thinking; they are also natural listeners, diligent problem solvers, and great team players.
With this in mind, here is how you can optimise your hiring process to attract and hire more introverted people!
Non-interview assessments can remove bias from the hiring process, making it fairer to introverts and extroverts alike. There are a growing number of soft-skills assessment tools, like Pymetrics and Koru, that can help you better understand if a candidate will be a good fit for the role and your company.
Companies can also give prospective hires personality tests such as Myers-Briggs or Big Five to better understand what kind of candidate they are considering and tailor their interviews and assessments.
At the interview stage
The interview stage can be one of the most imposing environments for a potential introverted hire. So how can you create an environment that encourages openness and showcases the candidate’s full potential?
Prep the room
This may sound ridiculous to some, but creating an inviting environment for the interview can help to put your candidate at ease. Avoid loud, noisy or high footfall areas. Crucially ensure that the interview is one-on-one and if a group interview is necessary offer “downtime afterward” (according to Lisa Petrilli, the author of The Introvert’s Guide to Success in Business and Leadership)
Check your own bias
Are you an introvert or an extrovert? If you’re an introvert, you most likely will be comfortable with a slower pace, pauses, and the possible self-effacing stance of an introverted interviewee.
Nonetheless you should check yourself for confirmation bias—seeking answers that support your case and minimizing other important responses. Be clear about the skills and traits you need for the position. Consider how comfortable you feel with a person who mirrors your style, and try to diversify your pool of candidates by being open to everyone.
Schedule adequate time and be patient
Patience is a virtue. Make sure not to schedule back to back interviews because then you'll be inherently looking for quick, easy responses you can respond to. An introvert won’t give you these answers. They will need time to think and formulate their responses. They may even require some light conversation before the interview starts to break the ice. The time before and after the interview will also allow you to write notes, reflect on impressions, and jot down questions.
Don’t ask curveball questions
“To get the best from an introvert,” author and futurist Adam Riccoboni told the Financial Times, “an interviewer should be descriptive and informative in their question, enabling the candidate to process the information better and provide more effective answers.” In short, don’t let your questions be so open-ended they swallow your introverted candidates.
Reflecting back what you heard gives candidates a chance to modify or validate what they said. Introverts will appreciate the chance to clarify their thoughts more completely and may put them further at ease with you as an interviewer.
There we have it, some simple but effective ways to ensure you fill your hiring pipeline (and eventual team) with the right people regardless of whether they are introverted or extroverted.
Are you committed to learning and hiring introverted people in your company? There are a lot of great resources out there about introverts, including Susan Cain’s website, Quiet Revolution. The more we understand about introverts, the more we can recognize this personality trait in candidates and adjust our recruiting process accordingly