How to Be Objective when Interviewing Introverts

Posted by on March 19, 2014 in Business Etiquette, Business Management, Hiring [ 0 Comments ]

hiring introvertsThe interview process has many flaws. It requires candidates to come in and put on a show, and for those candidates that aren’t adept at putting on a performance and bragging about themselves, it can be especially difficult to live up to these expectations. Rather than seeing candidates like this as unmotivated or inherently flawed, hiring managers need to recognize that this is actually an inherent flaw in the interview process. After all, you aren’t hiring someone to come put on a show everyday. You are looking for someone with a specific skill set who will come in and work hard every day, and if hiring decisions are based on showmanship, it’s very likely that the most qualified candidates are being overlooked.

Related: The Only Hiring Guide You’ll Need

Introverts, in particular, tend to be disadvantaged during interviews, especially if the hiring manager happens to be an extrovert. Thus, it’s important to understand how introverts think and interact, so hiring managers can be as objective as possible during the interview process.

What it means to be an Introvert

The term “introvert” has many negative connotations associated with it, but just because someone is introverted does not mean they are incapable, antisocial or shy. When someone is introverted it means that they re-energize by being alone. Extroverts, on the other hand, re-energize by being social and talking to other people. Neither personality type is correct or the best; they’re just different.

Characteristics of Introverts

Introverts have several unique characteristics that are advantageous to a business.

Team Player: Introverts tend to be better team players because they care more about what other people think and are willing to listen.
Persistent: Introverts will stick with a task longer than extroverts, particularly if the task is difficult or repetitive. Introverts make great writers, programmers and even sales people for this very reason.
Cautious: Introverts take longer to make decisions and avoid unnecessary risks. Just think how useful this characteristic would be in the financial or investing industry.

Handling the Interview

While introverts can contribute many things to an organization, their characteristics also require some adjustments to the interview process.

Don’t Force the Small Talk

Introverts don’t like small talk, so while you may typically use small talk to help put extroverts at ease, insisting on small talk with an introvert will only make them more uncomfortable. Instead, get to the actual point of the interview and talk with the candidate about their qualifications for the job, and don’t judge the candidate based on their ability to talk about the weather.

Related: Tips for Hiring and Empowering Great Employees

Ask Open Ended and Follow up Questions

Introverts don’t like to be the center of attention and will get to the point when answering questions, so rather than expecting them to put on a performance and sell themselves, ask follow up questions to get the information you desire. Asking open ended questions is especially important because a yes or no question will most likely result in a “yes” or a “no” answer.

Give them Time to Answer Questions

As mentioned above, introverts think before they act. This doesn’t show a lack of confidence, but rather a desire to get things right. Many interviewers make the mistake of filling the silence by talking about themselves too much. Instead, allow the interviewee to pause and think about their response.

Know the Criteria You are Looking For

Finally, one of the most important things you can do when preparing for an interview is to have a very clear idea of the kind of employee you are looking for whether its one focused on developing leadership skills or one with sophisticated knowledge in a particular area. Then spend the interview determining if the candidate meets that expectation rather than focusing on the likeability of the candidate. Take notes specific to those criteria during the interview and use those notes along with the resume to make the final decision. That way, the right candidate, be they an extrovert or introvert, will be hired for the job.

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Author Bio:  Jacob Kache works as a consultant for O.C. Tanner, a company dedicated to developing employee recognition and rewards programs that help companies appreciate people who do great work.

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