3 reasons why introverts have it really tough in job interviews

  • Post published:26/10/2022
  • Reading time:6 mins read

Introverts have a tough timeIntroverts have it really tough in most job interviews. They often fail in interviews that are seen as a cross-examination with bright lights in the face and beaten by rubber hoses.

Sadly, many hiring managers interrogate job candidates instead of having a conversation.

If the HR Manager is an outgoing, extrovert, sociable, and talkative person – which is not an unusual HR profile – it takes discipline and awareness by the HR Manager to conduct a proper interview. If not, the risk of being influenced by a first impression judgement of the candidate is very high.

An introverted person is someone who is shy, quiet, reflective, analytical, and prefers to spend time alone rather than being with other people.

Love at first sight for introverts?

Introverts are generally speaking both reserved and cautious when meeting other people for the first time. Yes, it takes time for them to warm up to someone new and you will not make friends instantly.

Predictive Index, a global psychometric assessment provider, says:

“An introvert is not driven by a need for social interaction. By contrast, he will be quiet, non-communicative, and serious. Just because his mouth is shut doesn’t mean that his mind isn’t open, however.

He’s introspective and enjoys private versus public spaces for thought. As he prioritizes tangible things over relationships, he is analytical and matter-of-fact in his interactions. When he does interact and communicate, he is thoughtful and sincere.”

In a split of a second, a first impression by the interviewer might knock an introvert out of the ring even before saying hello.

In psychology, a first impression is the event when one person first encounters another person and forms a mental image of that person.

There are a variety of studies that look at how quickly our brains make first impressions. Some say it only takes less than a second to form a first impression. Most of this process happens unconsciously – and takes place in every brain.

For sure, introverts can be warm and friendly once they get to know you. The problem is that an interview may not last long enough for that to happen in time.

It’s when an interview is off to a bad start and becomes uncomfortable and awkward. 

You can’t blame the interviewer for jumping to conclusion if the job requirements included traits like warm, talkative, friendly, articulate, interacting comfortably, and well-formed and on-the-spot responses.

How many introverted leaders are there?

Introver personAccording to Inc. (American business magazine), as many as 40 percent of executives describe themselves as introverted.

One Harvard Business Review study found introverted leaders to be more effective in a “dynamic, unpredictable environment.”

Yet introverts often get a bad undeserved reputation when it comes to management. But the other side of the story:

  • They’re good listeners
  • They take time to think
  • They don’t overlook other introverts

How do you interview an introvert?

The Don’ts and what not to say to an introvert

  • You’re so quiet.
  • Can you be more assertive?
  • Speak up more, please.
  • Don’t chit chat and small talk (can make the introverted candidate feel uncomfortable).

The Do’s  and the right way

  • Before the interview, email the candidate your agenda, your name and position, and the expected duration of the interview. It allows the candidate to come prepared and not feel put on the spot.
  • If you are not too concerned about the skill of thinking-on-your-feet, making quick decisions or giving an answer quickly, then consider emailing all or some of the questions you will be asking.
  • Be patient, patience is key.
  • Ask and never assume.
  • Be respectful of their space bubble and boundaries.
  • Show genuine interest in who they are as individuals.

Tom Sorensen

Tom Sorensen is an executive search veteran with over 25 years of experience recruiting in Asia, Europe, and Africa. He has worked in executive search in Thailand since 2003 and is recognized as one of the country’s top recruiters and most profiled headhunters.