One of the biggest mistakes hiring managers make is thinking that extroversion and introversion is a predictor of job fit. They incorrectly believe these traits can be used to qualify and disqualify candidates during employee selection. Popular tools like DISC and MBTI do an exceptional job at identifying extroversion and introversion. But using these traits as a predictor of job fit is nothing but hogwash.

A recent post on the HRB Blog Network led me to an article about the 5 Myths about Introversion. The 5 myths are worth repeating:

1. Introversion Myth #1: Being Introverted is the same as Being Shy

While there may be a number of introverts who are shy, there are also a number of extroverts who are shy. There is no direct correlation.

2. Introversion Myth #2: Introverts are Socially Inept or Anxious in Social Situations

Again, while this may be true for some introverts, this can also be true for extroverts and is not directly related to one’s introversion.

3. Introversion Myth #3: If I am Fearful of Public Speaking I Must be an Introvert

Studies show the fear of public speaking is the top fear people face, and that 75% of individuals experience speaking anxiety. Yet less than half of all people are introverts. Again, there is no direct correlation and this affects extroverts in the same way it affects introverts.

4. Introversion Myth #4: Introverts Have Communication Challenges and Difficulty Knowing What to Say

This is social anxiety, not introversion. If you research social anxiety you do not find references to introversion as a cause.

5. Introversion Myth #5: If You Act Like an Extrovert You Can “Overcome” Introversion

Introversion is not a disease that needs to be treated. It is merely a preference for communicating and processing. Regardless if you are introverted or extroverted, situations require everyone to adapt.  Extroversion is not the preferred state; it’s just another state which is preferred sometime but not all times.

The article also offered a concise description and explanation of introverts and extroverts too:

Introverts get their energy from their “inner world” of thoughts, ideas, reflections and even memories. Introverts get excited with coming up with new ideas and mulling over how they can bring them to life.  Idea to reality naturally energizes the introvert. (Note – that doesn’t mean that introverts are creative, innovative, or skilled at implementation.  It just means they get energized by the possibility.) Introverts generally love brainstorming, although they may do more listening than talking.  That doesn’t mean introverts aren’t participating or contributing; they are just thinking about the ideas and considering outcomes.  They may in fact engage in a few side conversations with just one or two other people so that they can thoughtfully turn thoughts into words. Generally speaking, introverts think in their heads rather than out loud.

Extroverts, on the other hand, get their energy from being in the “outer world” of people and places and things. They think out loud, even talk to themselves. They gain energy from being around large groups of people, even a group of complete strangers. Social networking events can be the air that extroverts breathe! For introverts, being in a large group is draining, which is they we have to take time to recharge after being at social events or in large work groups.

Now that we’ve exposed the myths and described the differences between introverts and extroverts, you should be asking how many introverted sales candidates you might have erroneously disqualified or how many introverted accountants and billing clerks did you hire that failed?

No doubt introversion and extroversion does play a role in how an employee might approach his or her duties but it in no way predicts if he is qualified or skilled to do the job.  Motivated employees are more than willing to adapt to different situations and learn the skills necessary to perform.  Just as the introvert might need to become more comfortable in larger group settings, the extrovert must learn to work independently and often times, think before he speaks or acts. But in neither case does introversion and extroversion potential or ability.  Knowing the trait ahead of time only gives the employer the starting point from where the employee might need to flex their behavior.

Considering the challenge many employers face in finding skilled and qualified candidates, it is imperative that those diamonds in the rough not be overlooked.  Dispelling the myths and stereotypes about introverts is a good first step in identifying and hiring the most qualified candidate.