September 8, 2014

Are You Subconsciously Basing Your Hiring Decisions Off Personality?

business man wearing party hatDing, ding, ding! That interview just went swimmingly: unwavering eye contact, a warm and inviting presence, plus an appropriate well-timed joke? Are you in a recruiter’s dreamland? That candidate was pure interviewing gold and now you’re ready to hire your next emplo…


Yes, she was dazzling, but before you onboard this extroverted candidate, pause a moment to reflect on if you’re suffering from a personality-biased tendency.

We’ve been taught that in order to succeed in an interview, explicitly or implicitly, we should exude charisma. “Sell yourself,” has been drilled into candidates’ heads, but does this align with what the workplace needs? Perhaps the interview has turned into a game where the best talker is victorious.

Introverted candidates can be easily filtered due to their predisposition for a more reserved personality over an outgoing one. Resident TedTalk pro Susan Cain summed up this idea in her best-selling book, Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking:

“Introversion-along with its cousins sensitivity, seriousness, and shyness-is a second-class personality trait, somewhere between a disappointment and a pathology.”

Fight the stereotype when picturing the ideal employee. The business world is a diverse and ever-changing organism that only benefits from adding divergent personality types.

The Numbers Don’t Lie 

It is estimated that introverts make up somewhere from one-third to one-half of the population. Up to 50 percent! That is a staggering amount of people today that would not describe themselves as a “people-person.” Don’t eliminate half of your candidates based on the fact that you did not feel an instant connection with them in the interview process.

So, should your personnel mimic this statistic? Maybe, maybe not, depending on the nature of your business, but diversity can certainly lead to a greater understanding of a greater range of people.

Don’t minimize the skills of the so-called “quiet ones”

Introverts are more apt to think, before they act. This can save the company from a brash decision or a case of groupthink. Introverts can do their work autonomously, lead by example and have their work speak for them.

It may be hard for the introvert to sell him or herself in the interviewing process. When it’s not a popularity contest, an introvert can creep up to the top of the list because of their experience, resume and aptitude instead of schmoozing. Introverts may take some time to warm up to their peers instead of instantly establishing a bond, but in the long run they are some of your most productive, and less distracting employees.

Gabbing is the #1 Workplace Distraction

There is fine-line between collaboration and word clutter. An office that is in constant verbal sharing mode is lower, not higher in productivity. Is it surprising that ‘talking employees’ topped the chart of workplace distractions at 45 percent? The chatterbox beat out the inbox, telephone calls and even odors. A distracted employee is money down the drain. Therefore, balance on the tightrope by evening out your numbers between extroverts and introverts for a workforce finely tuned to the right amount of collaboration.

Extroverts continue to dominate the “ideal” employee persona with their verbal expression and engaging personalities. Learn to equally value the less shiny personality traits like listening, contemplating and introversion to see their place in the workforce. Drain the hyperbole to find if this person really is the right fit for your company, or just likes to say so. Introverts may not jump out at you in the interview, but when hired, they may turn out to walk the walk.

Read more in Interviewing

Kerry is a Web Developer at Red Branch Media, a full-service B2B marketing agency specializing in Human Resources and Global Workforce Vendors. She focuses on user experience and lead generation on web automation platforms such as Wordpress, SharpSpring and Hubspot using HTML and CSS. Kerry is a recurring contributor to and enjoys writing about employee benefits, millennials and company culture.
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