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Interviewing Introverted Candidates for Critical Roles

introverted candidates

You don’t always need (or want) extroverted go-getters for every job role. Yet, the traditional interview process often favors charismatic personalities, confident self-promotion, and quick wit. This overlooks a vast pool of talent: introverts. How can you learn more about introverted candidates and put them at ease?

While introverts may not be as vocal as their extroverted counterparts, they often possess valuable qualities like focused attention, thoughtful analysis, and strong listening skills. For this reason, introverts are well-suited for jobs as accountants, software developers, data architects, mechanics, technicians and similar roles. Plus, studies show that while highly extroverted people are 25% more likely to land top jobs, introverts often make better leaders.

The trick to finding the right fit for your role among introverts is to ensure that your interview process is designed to help introverted candidates put their best foot forward without pretending to be someone they’re not. Here are some ways to do that:

Focus on skills and achievements: Instead of prioritizing charisma and self-promotion, structure your interview questions to assess the candidate’s skills, experience, and achievements. Ask open-ended questions that delve into specific situations and allow them to showcase their thought processes and problem-solving abilities. Incorporate behavioral interview questions that focus on past experiences and actions, asking candidates to describe specific situations where they demonstrated relevant skills.

Share the interview format in advance: This allows the candidate to prepare and feel more comfortable with the process. You may even choose to send some questions ahead of time or offer some asynchronous opportunities for them to respond. This allows introverted candidates to answer questions in their own time, eliminating the pressure of a live interaction. You might even allow them to record video responses, write detailed explanations, or complete written prompts. This is particularly important if that’s how communication in the role is structured. Why not use that same interaction in the interview process?

Consider environment: If the role will be performed remotely or in a quiet, calm environment, it doesn’t make sense to judge a candidate on how they conduct themselves in a bustling café or pressure-cooker conference room while being stared down by multiple executives. The environment where YOU thrive may not be the right interview environment for introverted candidates. A quiet, distraction-free environment allows introverts to focus on the interview without feeling overwhelmed by external stimuli. You may find that introverted candidates excel at virtual interviews for these same reasons.

Don’t fixate on first impressions: Introverted candidates may not “wow” you in the first few minutes of the interview, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t right for the job. Look beyond first impressions and give them a chance to demonstrate their skills and abilities. You may even choose to administer select hiring assessments early on, which can provide valuable insights into the candidate’s preferred work style and communication preferences. This information can help you structure the interview accordingly and create a more comfortable environment. To get inside the minds of introverted candidates a bit more, check out our post on Career Networking for Awkward People.

Leave space for pauses: Don’t equate silence with lack of engagement. Introverts often need time to process information and formulate their thoughts. Be comfortable with pauses and avoid misinterpreting silence as disinterest or lack of engagement. It may take every ounce of restraint you have but try to avoid interrupting or rushing them. Instead, use positive body language and offer verbal affirmations.

Follow up with the candidate: After the interview, consider following up by email to provide feedback and express your appreciation for their time. Summarize what was discussed and open the door for any more questions they may have. This gives introverts a chance to process the conversation and respond more thoughtfully in writing, which is how they may feel most comfortable.

Remember, introverts bring valuable skills to the workplace, such as deep focus, strategic thinking, and a thoughtful approach to problem-solving. By adapting your interview techniques, you can help introverted candidates showcase their strengths and potential. For more specific guidance, ask our recruiters.

Image Copyright: mikelaptev