Interview: Athina Dova on Hiring Introverts

Employers, Employment, Hiring / 18 March 2020

It’s easy to miss an introvert (and that’s generally their preference). They’re normally the ones sat quietly in a corner at break times; the person that nods and smiles in a group work outing, but rarely gets involved in conversation; the person that seems more focused on their work at the expense of interacting with their colleagues. These traits have, perhaps understandably, led to misconceptions about introverts – they’re shy, moody, boring.

As a recruiter or employer then, it seems to make perfect sense to choose an extroverted candidate over an introverted one. Extroverts are easy to get on with, go-getters, more approachable and chatty, and willing to share their thoughts and views openly in meetings or work nights out. They also tend to come across well in interviews as a result. Surely this means they’ll make much better overall employees? This depends on the role of course, but an extrovert might not always be the right fit. There are some jobs that extroverts naturally excel at, and the same is also true for introverts.

Interview: Athina Dova on Hiring Introverts

Contrary to first impressions though, introverts often aren’t actually shy, moody, or boring – they simply take a bit longer to ‘warm-up’ than more outgoing people. They also have a variety of traits that can be very valuable in the workplace.

We spoke to Athina Dova, Co-Founder and COO of Owiwi, who specialise in gamified pre-employment assessment tools, for some valuable insight into why you shouldn’t overlook introverts when hiring, how they can be advantageous to a team and organisation, and how to attract and engage them during the hiring process.

 

  What unique skills and traits make introverts a valuable part of a team?

 
‘Introverts are good listeners, self-sufficient, super focused, very observant, committed to their goals, and thought-provoking when you get them talking. That’s why IT typically attracts a lot of introverted candidates. Jobs like Software Development, Computer Programming, and Software Engineering normally attract very introverted candidates, due in part to the roles requiring a lot of deep thinking done on an individual level.

Job ads asking for Copywriters, Technical Writers, Digital Marketing Managers, Content Marketing Managers and even Social Media Managers may also attract introverts due to writing being an activity that is done by yourself without much outside help. Introverts can often become great entrepreneurs too.’

 

  Do you think introverts tend to get missed by employers and recruiters during the hiring process?

 
‘In general terms yes, and this is extremely important to consider if we think that one-third to half of the population in the States alone are introverts. With the rise of remote working, more and more jobs are becoming better suited for introverts.

Outdated recruiting processes, and especially trends like social recruiting, favour extroverts, and it’s not hard to see why. Extroverts are more expressive and boisterous and easily form connections with others, and most recruitment processes are narrowly tailored towards looking at people through the lens of how well they express themselves verbally under time pressure.’

 

  What can recruiters and HR professionals do to make sure they don’t miss talented introvert?

 
‘In a typical interview, introverts aren’t able to display their best and most beneficial qualities that for the job they are applying for. Most introverts also find small talk uncomfortable and unnecessary. Keeping your interview questions straight to the point and relevant to the role will help avoid any unexpected awkward moments.

We should also not forget that we’re not only talking about introverts anymore. We’re talking about millennial introverts who are tech-savvy, exposed to the “social media” element but at the same time struggling to develop more interpersonal relationships in the digital world.

Having consistent, structured interviews is the best strategy to ensure you’re hiring the right person for the role. Also, since we often talk about skills and traits, it’s very important to use psychometrics to identify those traits in candidates. We cannot simply trust “gut feeling” in such important decisions.

Traditional psychometric methods don’t necessarily help introverts to showcase their strengths though. They just highlight them. Gamified assessments, through their mechanisms for engagement and motivation, can help to truly demonstrate an introvert’s underlying traits in a practical way. This can be a powerful tool for recruiters, and a key proposition for introverted candidates.’

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