A blog about hiring introverts – written by an introvert! Hi, I’m Kristine, and I’m an introvert (Myers-Briggs even told me so). I like to travel, attend agricultural trade events, and even meet people in small doses, but forced/arranged networking is a little more challenging for me (especially when done late into the evenings in loud areas when I would rather be huddled up in my hotel room decompressing). I like working in my office on projects and communicating via social media with the AgCareers.com community, but I fear for my life a little bit every time my phone rings (or I must spend time mentally preparing before I pick up the phone and call someone). I love, engage in, and feel more energized by deep discussion, but small talk makes me feel like I’m shriveling up.
Now after I’ve shared all of this, you are probably thinking there are certain career areas I may not be suited for (i.e. sales, customer service). Fair enough. But what I know (and Albert Einstein and Abraham Lincoln knew, and Mark Zuckerberg, Steven Spielberg, and Warren Buffett know) is that introverts come with a lot of inherent skills related directly back to their personality.
While pursuing my undergraduate degree in communication arts (yep, an introvert actually majored in communications–a lot of us do!), a career counselor I formed a bond with shared a book with me called The Introvert Advantage: How to Thrive in an Extrovert World by Marti Olsen Laney. A point I’ve always bragged about when the topic of introversion vs. extroversion happens to come up is that introversion has been directly linked to intelligence. Another important point raised in this book is that introversion is often misunderstood as “shy” or “having poor social skills.” This isn’t always the case, and if you’ve worked with or connected with introverts in the past (you likely have – even though just 25% of people are introverted), you’ll know that introverts just need time to “recharge” in nonsocial atmospheres. Introverts even need to eat a little more often than extroverts just to gain back the energy they’ve lost engaging with people during the day (I’m telling my husband this to excuse my constant snacking).
But in all seriousness, it’s a good read and I recommend it if you work with introverts or are one yourself. And if you hire an introvert in any role, knowing some inherent introvert strengths could help you make your next great hiring decision. Even in sales!
Common Strengths of Introverts
Writing: Introverts tend to be good writers, which is why introverted candidates might be a good fit in any type of communications role, administration, research, engineering, science, development, programming, and much more. Olsen Laney wrote in the aforementioned book that introverts need to express themselves much more than they regularly do, which is why my blog posts are often very long. But beside the point, if an introvert finds something that he/she is interested in and enjoys, thoughts tends to flow freely. Introverts also spend a lot of time thinking and coming to deeper conclusions.
Preparation: Back to that last note about thinking, introverts typically come to meetings, work, presentations, etc. well-prepared. Because they have spent time thinking about it and reflecting on what they would like to say and discuss. They prepare questions and answers to questions.
Problem-solving: Again, with so much thinking going on, introverts are often likely to pull out all the stops when it comes to problem-solving. They will go over various scenarios, processes, designs, what have you to determine the best possible solution. Introverts are also known to be quite creative.
Listening: Need someone who’s able to take notes diligently and remember everything they’ve heard? Hire an introvert. Introverts are likely to soak up their environments and notice tiny details. You may find that introverts may be less vocal during meetings but they are busy listening and absorbing all kinds of different ideas to formulate new ones, new angles, and new branches off of those ideas.
Actually Hiring Introverts
Now how can you harness those strengths? Hire an introvert.
But wait a minute. Have you ever actually interviewed an introvert? Job interviews are up there on the list of an introvert’s worst nightmares. Introverts tend to be very modest and struggle talking about themselves. They are also typically caught off guard by questions they may not have prepared for. If you have interviewed an introvert, there is a good chance they were not highly energetic (and if they were, it sucked the energy out of them for the rest of the day) although excited about the job opportunity, and they may not have engaged as quickly as an extroverted candidate may. Do your best to make an introvert comfortable in a job interview. Smiles and nods go a long way, as does genuine interest in their words. Ask behavioral questions that will reveal an introvert’s true strengths if not shown in their body language.
Job references are also key in an interview. DO bother to check references as they may say something totally different than what you saw while interviewing (as is true with any candidate, extrovert or introvert).
Personality tests can also help reveal any candidate’s true strengths. I’m likely preaching to the choir, but The Clifton Strengths Finder from Gallup, Myers-Briggs, or the Caliper Profile are common tests that can help reveal strengths.
Finally, once an introvert is integrated into the workplace, it’s important to give them space and time to spend working alone and individually. A small disruption can totally throw off their work, so quiet, calm and less stimulating environments are best for introverts.
AgCareers.com Resources for YOU
Now maybe everything I’ve written here is no news to you. Also fair enough. But you may consider checking out AgCareers.com’s upcoming webinars and workshops in order to tailor better to all employees, whether introverted or not, and you’ll likely learn some things about giving better performance reviews, handling sticky situations in the workplace, and becoming a better leader.
You may also encounter a few introverts at our upcoming Virtual Career Fairs: a great way for introverts to network with employers!