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Showing your true colours at interview: a call for introvert-friendly recruitment

If it is rude to ask a lady’s age, I might be about to commit blasphemy by giving a very strong steer towards my own.

But when I was in my teens there was a song you might remember (especially if you’re of a certain age, which shall remain nameless).

And today, sitting on an interview panel, listening to hopeful applicants provide evidence and examples to our questions, it strikes me that this song could include a very important message for the business world.

The song went like this:

I’m blue, da ba dee da ba daa / Da ba dee da ba daa, da ba dee da ba daa.

You see, once upon a time, I could proudly boast that I’d been offered the job for every single interview I’d been to. I was young, green and had the bulletproof confidence of a first class graduate who’d never had a knock back.

But times have changed. For me and the economy. And finding a job isn’t always as easy as it used to be.

These days, I’ve had plenty more experience of being interviewed and, euphemistically speaking, had lots of opportunities for self-reflection and growth (ie not been offered the job and spent the night agonising over a glass of red and all the ways I might have let myself down).

You see, I’m blue.

I don’t meant in a mental health sense, although I’ve walked the black dog more than a few times around the block.

And I don’t mean Bernard Manning blue either. (Good to know times can change for the better too...)

No, I mean that I have a blue personality type, as determined by Insights.

Insights is a system of assessing different work personalities and how they affect the way we perform and interact in different professional situations.

There’s no right or wrong colour to be; each shade has its own pros and cons in equal measure. (Although I’ve always been a little envious of dashing reds and their ability to think of the foot and make decisions on the fly.)

All managers at my organisation receive a personalised assessment to help us reflect on our own work styles and understand those of others.

And I’m blue - dab ba de dab ba doo – which means I am more likely to be analytical, reflective, introverted, considered.

I’m not rash, flash or showy.

I’m diligent, reliable; you probably think I’m a little boring.

After a few years of my polite refusals and jellyfish-transparent excuses, you’ll stop asking me to the Christmas party.

But I’m good at my job.

I’m head down, hard-working, delivering like an Amazon drone.

I research, I plan, I execute and I assess.

But do I interview well? I don’t think so.

My fellow blues and I have a potential problem when it comes to interviews.

A well-prepared candidate is more likely to prosper over someone who has failed to prepare (we all know how that ends…). And we blues are the most likely to be swotting and colour-coding index cards of possible interview questions, answers and off-the-cuff ad libs than anyone.

But interviews aren’t always our forte.

Because the enemy of the blue is the unexpected.

We like to think things through, consider all angles, and reply in a well-thought-out and structured way.

  • Preferably after about a week.

  • Via a formal report.

  • With graphs.

  • And footnotes.

So an interview question that hasn’t been anticipated, index-carded and prepared for...that can be a real struggle.

Those dashing reds who bring so much enthusiasm and energy to the workplace seem to sail through the interview process on snap decisions and quick wit.

By comparison, we blues are the manatees of the metaphor, lumbering through depths unseen. We're wading through so much information to answer your question that we can sink rather than swim in this situation.

But we might be great at the job in question.

Unless you’re specifically looking for someone who is great at answering quick fire questions in a conference room, a traditional interview might not select your best candidate, whatever their colour disposition.

So what’s the answer?

I wish I knew. I’d be writing a management guide rather than this blog. Give me a few months to think about it and I’ll have a spiral-bound recommendation on your desk; colour-coded, indexed and immaculately formatted.

For now, I just wanted to say that I think a conversation about different personality types in the recruitment process is worth having; to ensure our processes don’t create a barrier to having a rainbow of different skill sets in our teams. 


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