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Recruiting Introverts: Why You Might Be Losing Your Best Candidates

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A few years ago, I watched New York Times best-selling author Susan Cain’s TED Talk on “The Power of Introverts” and had one of those rare moments in life where everything suddenly made sense.

Wait…what? I’m completely normal and just an introvert? It’s hard to believe I never knew this about myself. The signs were always there: I love to connect 1:1 or in small groups, but dread networking events and ice breakers (just writing those two words raised my blood pressure). I play a lot of video games (alone). I prefer to stay behind-the-scenes and out of the spotlight. And most telling, I recharge by spending time alone. I just needed a little education to understand what all of these things meant.

After watching Susan’s TED Talk and reading many subsequent articles about this topic, I am clearly not the only person who felt their introverted tendencies meant something was wrong with them. This is because our worlds (and our workplaces) are largely designed around those who need and want a lot of social interaction.

Our recruiting processes and decisions also favor extroverts, and it’s not hard to see why. Extroverts are more expressive and boisterous and easily form connections with others. And our processes are narrowly tailored towards looking at people through the lens of how well they express themselves verbally under time pressure. Given that introverts generally prefer time to think before speaking, this can present quite a disadvantage.

Yet, one-third to half of the population are introverts, and according to many studies, teams perform best when there is a balance of both introverted and extroverted members. In addition, whether a leader is introverted or extroverted can impact leadership effectiveness depending upon the type of team that’s being led.

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