Do Introverts Pose a Problem for Hiring Managers?

Hello My Name is IntrovertIt was a genuine honor to be interviewed for a January 22nd Financial Times article on hiring introverts. It’s important to add that I feel compelled to say, as an advocate for introverts, the title itself was disappointing: “Introverts Pose a Problem for Hirers.” I say this because it feels we introverts are so often misunderstood and misjudged by many. 

Introverts, who represent 25-49% of the population depending on the study, represent a tremendous opportunity for hiring managers! Some of what I stated in the article, have said here on my blog and wrote in my Introvert’s Guide to Success in Business and Leadership eBook:

Introverts get their energy from their inner world of ideas, images, and thoughts, and from creating deep connections with people… As a result, they are exceptional at creating and communicating visions for their company and teams and strategies that align with those visions. They can and do thrive in virtually any role but in a different way and with different strategies…they can also make excellent leaders: They create strong connections built on foundations of trust that inspire and motivate people to act.

Moreover, some studies have shown a correlation between being introverted and being gifted.

Thus, I believe it’s misleading to say, “introverts pose a problem for hirers.” Instead, I believe leading-edge, savvy hiring managers understand that introverts experience a traditional interviewing process differently from extroverts, simply because of how we get our energy. The process of meeting a number of people in a short amount of time will be energizing for extroverts and draining for introverts. It’s solely because of how we are innately wired.

I also believe knowledgeable leaders and talent management executives understand that there has been a misleading and naive implication by many in the past that introversion equals shyness or even poor social skills, which are some of the myths about introversion I have previously written about. Most introverts I have the pleasure of knowing and working with are not shy, have exceptional social skills, and are quite confident. I agree with Mr. Riccoboni who talks in the article about how the misconception can occur: from introverts taking time to respond to questions and inexperienced recruiters misjudging this as a lack of confidence. 

Additionally the article implies at the beginning that people who are “assertive, go-getting, and able to seize the day” are extroverts. Yet, introverts can be magnificently assertive, go-getting and can rise to any challenge – they will just do this differently than an extrovert will! They might make a bold and ground-breaking proposal to a CEO, but do it in a one-on-one meeting where they’re in their comfort zone. Or start an important corporate initiative with only one or two other stakeholders.

So, do introverts have a responsibility to rise to the occasion when going through an interview process? Absolutely. They must:

  • Take to heart that the keys to a great interview are confidence, a deep belief in oneself and in your self-worth, and
    preparation. These are attributes every one of us has the ability to cultivate, regardless of whether we are an introvert or extrovert.
  • Acknowledge that their reflective, thoughtful, insightful approach to questions is highly valued in organizations. Know this, be confident about it, and don’t apologize for it during the process…it’s not a weakness!
  • Recognize that interviews are draining and make the most of any opportunity to recharge during the process (say yes to bathroom breaks, a glass of water, any chance to breathe and re-center yourself). Just as importantly, recognize that this draining process does take you out of your comfort zone (often meeting a lot of new people at once). An inner commitment to keep your physical energy high is critical. Consider incentivizing yourself with a relaxing reward when the process is complete each day.
  • Clearly share the thoughts, images and visions that are beautifully cohesive inside their heads with the interviewer. This requires a lot of focus, eye contact, and paying attention to body language to make sure the interviewer is understanding all the brilliance they are sharing.
  • Toot their own horn. While not natural for introverts, I do give strategies on this in the Introvert’s Guide to Success in Business and Leadership.

In doing all these things, introverts make it easier for smart, savvy interviewers to recognize the depth and breadth of their accomplishments, talents, and the immense value they will bring to the organization.

On the  whole, the Financial Times Article is excellent and does bring to light the difference in how introverts and extroverts often appear “at first blush,” and how they approach their work differently. Yet, I don’t think it’s fair to say they pose a problem for hirers. Am I wrong? What do you think? I would love to hear from you!

Photo by One Way Stock on Flickr.

The Introvert’s Guide: How to Ask for a Raise

shaking hands getting raiseThis is something I am wishing I had addressed in my eBook, The Introvert’s Guide to Success in Business and Leadership!

As I mentioned two years ago in, “5 Myths About Introversion from Harvard Business Review,” based on my Harvard Business Review blog post, being introverted is not the same as being shy. So, while shyness would not be a hindrance for an introvert in asking for a raise, a hesitation to move to action just might be.

You see, since introverts derive their energy from their inner world of ideas and images, and a clear vision of where they are headed, we tend to gravitate to that inner world and, often without consciously realizing it, try to spend as much time there as possible. As a result, we may sometimes be reluctant to move to the outer world of bold action, because it is where we are less comfortable and quickly become drained. However, when it comes to asking for a raise, it’s imperative that we be our own advocate. We have to get out of our comfort zone and ask for what we want!

1. I encourage anyone who is doing exceptional work and is not being paid at a level commensurate with others at similar organizational levels and skill sets in their industry, as well as those who are exceeding the standards in their industry and company and creating significant profits for their company, to ask for a raise. For some individuals this may seem to be a daunting task.

When I am speaking to audiences I often share that when I was on dialysis and my family members had all been ruled out as kidney donors, I had to ask people whom I didn’t know to consider giving me a kidney. My donor ended up being a woman from my church whom I had never met. I was elated to discover she was actually excited to be given the opportunity to help someone like me. I had to ask in order to receive. I promise it’s a lot easier to ask for a raise than to ask for a kidney, and it’s much easier for your boss to say yes to a raise!

The key message here: take the initiative to get what you want and believe you have earned. In today’s market, you may not get it unless you ask.

2. The best time to ask is during your in-person annual or semi-annual review when the conversation is specifically dedicated to you and to your performance.

3. You should prepare materials supporting your outstanding performance and any research you can gather showing that you are not being paid at a level commensurate with others in your industry at similar levels in their organization, and with similar skill sets and educational backgrounds. Know the salary range for your role given your educational level, years of experience and skill set. Additionally, calculate how much you contributed to the bottom line of your company through your direct actions, if possible.

4. The aforementioned research will help you determine what the appropriate amount is for you to be targeting. I recommend employees ask for a bit more than they are targeting to give the employer some negotiating room. If you persuade your boss that a raise is appropriate, they will very likely want to do what they can to support you, but may not be able to give you everything you ask for. Be aware of this going in and adjust your strategy accordingly.

5. There is no “correct” phrasing when asking for a raise; it’s much better to speak from the heart. Focus on letting your boss know that you genuinely enjoy your job and working for the company, and that you respect them and appreciate the opportunity to learn from them. Share the research you’ve put together about salaries and the supporting documentation regarding your performance. And then ask for what you want in a courteous and confident way, knowing that you are worthy of what you ask for.

I can’t stress how essential it is that you believe in your worthiness for this raise. The Essence of Worthiness is different from arrogance or a sense of entitlement. When you know you are worthy, you carry yourself with a confident stature and a sense of knowing that you are being true to yourself.

6. And then, as my business partner Vanda Teixeira says in To Be A Woman: A Signature Book, “Give the world permission to unfold its divine magic into your life; give yourself permission to receive it.”

FOR SPEAKING AND INTERVIEWING INQUIRIES, write to Lisa at [email protected] Thank you!

Photo of Shaking Hands by Arif Sheikh2011

The Introvert's Guide to Success in Business and Leadership

The Introvert’s Guide to Success in Business and Leadership

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Leadership Advice for Young Introverted Leaders

Leadership Advice for Young Introverted LeadersLast week I had the pleasure of coaching a group of young, rising stars at one of Chicago’s largest companies as part of the Magnetic Leadership Program. It’s work I adore and wish I could do more of because I know it makes a difference and provides valuable insight for high-potential leaders to accelerate their success.

I was honored to have the opportunity to coach a gentleman who is clearly an introvert and at the relative beginnings of a career that promises to be stellar. He told me he’s being encouraged by his management to “change” in order to be more successful, which is feedback I suspect many young introverts receive. If you’re a long-time reader of this Visionary Leadership blog you probably know what my response was: “That’s the last thing you need to do. You need to be true to yourself in order to be an authentic leader.”

Change vs. Strategies for Success

Introverts absolutely do not need to change who they are or act like an extrovert in order to be successful. At the same time, there comes a point in our careers where we absolutely do need strategies that will help boost us up the ladder rungs. As I wrote in The Introvert’s Guide to Success in Business and Leadership,

“While both introverted and extraverted leaders excel at leadership and in business, it’s my experience that introverts have a more difficult time moving up the ladder to reach the executive level in the real world, for a variety of reasons.

These reasons include, but are not limited to, being less comfortable seeking the visibility required to be recognized within a company, a lack of mentoring on how to network effectively in a way that is comfortable for introverts, the fact that introverts tend to move to action less quickly than their extraverted counterparts, and that they may be less likely to ask for new opportunities and increased responsibilities because of their more reserved nature.

I believe it’s also because they simply have a more difficult time, particularly during the formative part their career and in job interviews, putting themselves out there in a way that gets them noticed and boosts them up the ladder rungs.”

Getting Noticed is Critical

That last sentence is critical for young, introverted leaders, especially high achievers who have been very successful based on the results they’ve driven early in their career. We want to believe that what’s made us successful in the past will continue to make us successful in the future.

Here’s the important truth: As you look to move up the ladder of an organization, it’s not enough to get results and it’s not realistic to think you’ll only be evaluated on your results. Instead, you’ll be evaluated on intangibles like confidence, assertiveness, poise, and presence, as well as more tangible traits like resourcefulness, demonstrating company values, and articulation. And all of this is on top of more familiar leadership skills including creating and communicating a clear vision and aligning your team and strategies to bring this vision to life.

But the only way you’ll have the opportunity to be evaluated is if:

1. You make sure you become fully visible in the organization

2. You ensure your ideas become visible in the organization

And this is where it becomes more challenging for introverts. Introverts need strategies that enable them to “move along the scale” toward extroversion, as necessary, to become effective, inspiring leaders. But they can do this in ways that are comfortable for them as introverts, with the right guidance and support from upper management. And believe me when I say when introverts do share their ideas and insights in the world of business and leadership, people listen.

So my introverted colleagues, I plead with you not to listen to anyone – boss, coach, colleague, family member, or friend – who asks you to change who you are. Honor your introversion – it’s a gift laden with many unique and valuable strengths!

But accept the responsibility to learn strategies that will enable you to take the power in your ideas, and your inner self, and make that power visible and invaluable to your organization!


The Introvert's Guide to Success in Business and Leadership

The Introvert's Guide to Success in Business and Leadership

Are you an introvert looking to use your introversion to your advantage in business & leadership or an extrovert interested in leading introverts more effectively? I wrote this eBook for you…

The Introvert’s Guide to Success in Business and Leadership” eBook is NOW Available! Now an Amazon Best Seller & Hot New Release, Featured on Huffington Post, and the inspiration behind my Harvard Business Review article!

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Click here to DOWNLOAD in PDF format. Thank you!

Being an introvert is truly an advantage in business and leadership if you know how to leverage it, and if you remain true to yourself.

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