In a climate where technical talent is in high demand, no stone should go unturned in the search for ideal candidates. However, your company may be missing out on a third to half of the talent pool if your hiring process, like most, favors extroverts.
While unintentional in most cases, extrovert bias is a natural outflow from an emphasis on interview performance. It’s easier to want to give the job to a candidate who exudes confidence and charisma and responds adeptly to curveball questions.
“Extroverts are more accomplished at describing their value. With soft-skills being an important element for teamwork, it’s tempting for hiring managers to favor people who seem the most pro-social,” says Kay Durkin, founder of Phoenix Partners.
“However, in technical fields, introverts with a capacity for complex problem-solving are often better suited to many positions.”
Research has shown that extroverts actually may contribute less than expected to team projects, according to one study by UCLA’s Anderson School of Management.
In psychological research on the differences between introverts and extroverts, brain scans for introverts, show a thicker prefrontal cortex, which is associated with deeper thought and planning versus the extrovert’s tendency to impulsiveness.
Introverts may make better leaders, according to a recent study from researchers at the University of Chicago, Harvard, and Stanford Universities. The study used linguistic analysis to sort more than 4,000 CEOs of publicly traded companies into five broad personality traits:
- Extroversion (versus introversion)
- Neuroticism (versus emotional stability)
- Openness to experience
One reason why introverts are especially valuable to a team mix is that they are natural listeners and diligent problem solvers. They also embrace the solitude that is usually needed for truly creative thinking, and as a result, can resist group-think and instead contribute novel solutions.
None of this is intended to devalue extroverts, who remain compellingly beneficial in business. However, the research suggests it is important to achieve a good balance between extroverts and introverts – and ambiverts, which blend traits from each – to have a well-balanced and productive workplace.
In many non-client-facing disciplines such as IT, introvert traits are highly desirable. The challenge is to ensure that interview bias does not cause your company to miss out on the best talent available.
Here are some tips on making your hiring process more inclusive to introverts:
Ask Descriptive Interview Questions
While extroverts are adept at fielding curveball or open-ended questions, introverts respond better to informative, descriptive questions that allow time to prepare a detailed answer. Be patient in allowing response time, and encourage the candidate to feel free to take a minute to consider his or her response. Don’t mistake extended silence for lack of experience – the introvert requires a bit of time to process what you’re asking. Think hard about what you’re hoping to discover with your open-ended questions, and when you appear to be dealing with an introvert, give additional guidance or embellishments to the question. Listen intently for the content of the response.
Offer to Send Questions in Advance
This will give introverts time to process your questions before responding and help level the playing field at the interview. It also weights the interview to rely more heavily on past experience than presentation skills for all candidates.
Offer One-on-One Interviews
Whenever possible, offering one-on-one interviews with an interviewer who is experienced in different personality types will help determine a more accurate sense of the candidate’s skills and fit for the company. While extroverts connect with groups of people, introverts tend to engage with others one-to-one. If you need to conduct panel interviews, remember to give candidates an opportunity to connect with each individual.
Perform Reference Checks Early in the Process
Introverts tend to be less inclined to blow their own horn. This can be offset in the hiring process by asking to check references before an interview, and to use these references as a way to understand past performance and strengths. This can lead to a more productive interview for all candidates.
Use Skill Tests and Assessments to Level the Playing Field
Skill testing for technical positions is critical, and can also help level the playing field between introverts and extroverts. Tools such as HackerRank to assess coding skills are useful in this case, and can provide real-time collaboration. Soft-skill testing tools and profiling systems can also help you identify disposition, and plan the interview approach accordingly.
Do you need help tapping into the Introvert Talent pool? Talk to Phoenix Partners.