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Interviewing an Introverted Candidate

Human Resources

The nature of introversion can make it hard for some introverts to perform well at interview, resulting in introverts appearing less qualified than the extroverted.

It is important however not to overlook your introverted candidate. Introverts are often intelligent, self-sufficient, calm, measured and thoughtful.  Introverts are great researchers, listeners, writers and strategists.  You could certainly miss hiring the best candidate if you dismiss a candidate simply because they are not as socially fluent as the extroverted.

Here is what you need to know about interviewing an introverted candidate:

What does introverted mean?

Extroverted and introverted are terms used to describe opposite preferences. An extrovert prefers to focus on the world outside of the self and an introvert is concerned with their inner world. Introverts enjoy exploring their inner thoughts and feelings. Introverts are energized by being alone and need time to recharge in solitude.

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Introverted is not the same as shy

Shyness and introversion are not the same.  While an introvert will find social situations drain their energy levels this is not the same as avoiding social situations due to fear or anxiety. An introvert can enjoy and welcome social encounters, they will however find them exhausting and need time alone after to restore their energy levels.

Introverts don’t like small talk

You might get your first clue that a candidate is an introvert as you walk them from reception to the interview room. Introverts dislike small talk preferring to say nothing at all than something insignificant.  Small talk for an introvert feels inauthentic and irrelevant and while small talk is designed to put a candidate at ease it can actually make the introverted candidate feel uncomfortable.

An introvert will undersell themselves.

Introverts are not at an ease being the centre of attention.  Quiet and subdued, you may find an introvert will not sell themselves the way the extroverted candidate does. Introverts are uncomfortable with self-promotion and will not boast about their achievements or knowledge. Direct and honest an introvert will not exaggerate or overstate.  It is important when interviewing an introverted candidate not to interpret this as lack of interest in the role.

An introvert will take longer to answer questions.

An introverted candidate will reflect on questions and take time to gather their thoughts before speaking. This may result in the introvert being slower to respond to questions. An introvert will also pause more often to gather their thoughts or find the right word. This can make introverts seem less confident than an extrovert candidate who will respond more quickly.

What are your experiences interviewing introverts?

Comments on this Article: 1

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  1. MissMaryJane says:

    I’m pretty sure I just failed to continue on to a 3rd level of interviews (on the phone, actually) because I’m an introvert. :’/ I would have been excellent at the job.

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