“We know from myths and fairy tales that there are many different kinds of powers in this world. One child is given a light saber, another a wizard’s education. The trick is not to amass all the different kinds of available power, but to use well the kind you’ve been granted.”- Susan Cain, ‘Quiet’

Imagine you are an assessor at a graduate assessment centre. It’s the final stage before offers are made. You notice someone; they seem to be the centre of attention, they are networking with a lot of the other candidates and they appear friendly and personable. Contrastingly you notice someone on the edge of the room, they are having a one on one conversation with another candidate, are a lot quieter and seem totally engrossed in the conversation they are having. Which person would you think was the better candidate? The loud, exuberant person or the quiet listener?

It’s an Extrovert’s World

Talkative or quiet? Confident or unassuming? Seek the spotlight or shun it? In Western cultures, we live in societies that admire extroverts. Many signals tell us we should aspire to be good with people, confident and comfortable in the spotlight.

But is this the only personality that can succeed in the hectic world we live in? Not according to Susan Cain. In her book, Quiet, multiple historical and modern examples, from Dale Carnegie (author of “How to Win Friends and Influence People”) to Eleanor Roosevelt and Steve Wozniak (co-founder of Apple), show that you don’t have to be loud and talkative to be successful in the professional world today.

So why does this matter to you, or to the Early Talent Industry? Well according to Quiet, the Introversion-Extroversion Spectrum is one of the fundamental determinants of our personalities. And our bias in favour of extroverts might be blinding us to the invaluable benefits of introverts.

Introversion and Extroversion: What’s the Difference?

Extroverts gain energy from stimulation; revelling in multitasking, social situations and thinking on their feet. Introverts actually lose energy from these kinds of stimulation, which is why they often enjoy more reflective environments. They are often quieter than extroverts, because they spend more time analysing their environments. They listen more than they talk, they enjoy concentrating and they think before they speak.

As a graduate employer, understanding introverts is key, because introverts clearly bring important strengths to any role. While they may not dominate the conversation in a meeting (or an assessment centre), the chances are that introverts will make well-considered contributions, which can often add more value. Similarly, rather than simply waiting for their chance to speak; introverts are often listening to and analysing every word that’s being said.

Attracting and Recruiting Introverts

Research shows that as many as one third of the people you know are introverts. So, chances are, many of the high performing graduates you are already attracting, recruiting and developing are likely to be introverts. Think back to the assessment centre scene above. Now, ask yourself, is there any chance that your recruiting processes indirectly favour extroverts?

There are key actions we can take on the recruitment side to ensure introverts, and all their strengths, get a fair chance at being hired. Do you give your candidates enough time to think? Being able to think on your feet is an important skill, but is speaking before you think preferable to a more considered response? What skills do you test in group assessments? Do your assessment centre exercises favour those who tend to shine in the spotlight, or those who might shy away from it?

A balanced approach

In ‘Quiet’, Susan Cain isn’t trying to argue that introversion is in any way superior to extroversion. She simply stresses that if introverts are often overlooked in today’s world, it is worth considering the working environments (or assessment situations) where they are able to, not only work comfortably, but also to shine.

Having a diverse workforce is a boon to any organisation. The more variety of skills, approaches and thought processes you incorporate, the more innovative and creative thinking you get.

How does your organisation appeal to multiple personality types?

Tweet us your thoughts @thesmartytrain

Image Designed by Freepik