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The interview. Institutional discrimination against introverts

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Interviews discriminate against introverts with a panel of people interviewing a woman.

Interviews are worth doing in staff selection, but they are rather inaccurate. The most common form of interview has accuracy of only about 12%, and the absolute best of them get to only about 25% accuracy, whereas valid psych testing gets up around 50% accuracy in predicting good performance at work.

One of the biggest problems with interviews is that they discriminate against introverts. The average introvert likes some time to think of their answers to questions and they are not at their best when facing multiple pairs of eyes. Yet introverts can be fantastic employees and for some roles they are considerably better than extraverts.

We need to learn that a good interview is not an opportunity for the candidate to “impress us”. It is an opportunity to partner with the candidate to share information as openly as possible to make a good mutual decision about whether they should work for us.

One of my key tips is to write behavioural interview questions about the key outcomes of the job (e.g. please give an example of where you have made customers happy) then send these to the candidates well before you interview them. We quite often ask them to respond in writing to the interview questions and email us the results in preparation for their interview.

This seems a radical idea for some people. Some are concerned that the candidate will fabricate the answer when they have this time to consider. My answer to this is to interview the candidate deeply about what they have written. You will soon see if they can’t back their answer up with detail.

Others believe that removing the pressure of the interview loses some vital ingredient. The pressure of an interview is a totally different pressure than you face at work, so there is no loss. We have all seen candidates who were fantastic interviewees and terrible employees or vice versa.

Click here to find out how to maximise the validity of your recruitment efforts.

Robertson, I.T & Smith, M, Personnel Selection Journal of Occupational and Organisational Psychology (2001), (74), 441-472

Andrew Marty

Managing Director at SACS Consulting

Andrew is a qualified psychologist who has over 25 years of human resource management consulting experience, including extensive senior executive search and selection experience.

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