Understanding basic personality types in the workplace can facilitate the proper placement of talent and can foster healthy communication. By providing introverts and extroverts with the right type of work and working conditions for their particular strengths and weaknesses, you can make the most of your workforce and maximize their potential. But what about the ambiverts?

That’s right. My spell check just informed me that the word does not exist. Nevertheless, in addition to the opposite ends of the personality spectrum, there is a third personality type that shows the attributes of both groups evenly: the ambivert.

Determining personality types

In the recruiting and hiring process, we are in the business of filtering candidates to fill vacancies. As nice as it would be to have every client apply for the job they are best suited to fill, this is rarely the case. Some people have a good idea of their strengths and personalities, while others need a little guidance.

By using personality assessments in the interview process, you can determine which of these three categories most applicants fit. While these personality categories are generalizations, understanding them can help in suggesting placements that will make sense for candidates’ work styles and personalities, saving you the grief of trying to train a confirmed introvert into an outbound sales rock star.

Introverts

Introverts are often some of the most enigmatic individuals to us, as most HR personnel and recruiters are primarily extroverts. This personality type is energized internally. Introverts generally prefer analytical tasks and working alone or in small teams. An introvert tasked with work that requires lots of personal contact with strangers or public presenting will likely find this difficult.

These highly valuable workers do well in detail-oriented tasks, such as accounting or managing a shipping department. While a personality assessment can tell you a lot, a person’s track record should never be ignored in favor of it. If your introverted candidate won more sales awards on the West Coast than any other, obviously he or she has found a way to make personality mesh with work.

Extroverts

Extroverts are typically some of the easiest to spot. Even before an assessment, they may be chatting up the receptionist. You’re pretty sure they could do even your job from the confidence they typically exude. They shine in group settings and up-front tasks with lots of praise and attention, but they may wither if placed in solitary positions with little interaction.

Extroverts also tend to be more focused on the moment. While they can show extended success over time, it is the brief public presentations, sales meetings, and client interactions that they live for. Extroverts can be a distraction if improperly placed. Their nature demands an audience, and they will try to get it, sometimes at the cost of etiquette and procedure.

Ambiverts

The true ambivert is the rarest of the three. This crossbreed personality may have a hard time fitting into your assessments. They have strong public-audience skills, but they can also be content during long periods of solitude. Ambiverts tend to thrive in positions where both types of work are required.

Psychologists compare ambiverts to bilinguals. They have a wider range of emotional comprehension and are often comfortable with groups at either end of the spectrum. Because of this, they make excellent managers. When tested, a high percentage of successful salespeople fall into this category because they can appeal to a wider audience.

Paying attention

These three categories tend to be established early in life. This makes the introvert/extrovert/ambivert dynamic a strong tool for recruitment and placement. By classifying candidates within these groups, you can save a lot of time and trouble and prepare your talent for success.

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Jessica Miller-Merrell

Jessica Miller-Merrell, SPHR, is an author, speaker, Human Resources professional, and workplace social media expert who has a passion for recruiting, training, and all things social media. She is the president and CEO of Xceptional HR, and a leader in the HR community with more than 12 years of industry experience. The author of Tweet This! Twitter for Business, Jessica was named by HR Examiner as the second most influential recruiter on the Internet and the seventh most powerful woman on Twitter. She is a columnist for both SmartBrief and The Huffington Post, in addition to Blogging4Jobs and Human Resources One on One. Jessica has been interviewed for professional articles in CIO Magazine, Entrepreneur Magazine, SHRM’s HR Magazine, and on CBS. Jessica earned a Senior Professional in Human Resources designation in 2008, and holds a bachelor’s degree in Anthropology and Business from Kansas State University. Originally from a small town in Kansas, Jessica currently lives near Oklahoma City with her husband, Greg and daughter, Ryleigh.

3 Comments

  • Avatar Zoe D. says:

    A lot of recruiters talk about the value such testing can provide in the hiring, onboarding and coaching of people. However, all assessments are not created equal, and not all people who use them are equivalent in their knowledge of when and how to use them. This worries non-governmental organizations; they worry that personality tests can be used as a method of discrimination when recruiters don’t combine them with an evaluation of their skills.

  • Avatar Megan says:

    The proposition is undeniable: you can’t build a great company without great people. But how many companies are rigorous about hiring? The all-too-common reality, in far too many companies, is that hiring processes are poorly designed and shabbily executed. The first step before starting to recruit is to create an exact picture of the work environment you want or already have and what kind of people would fit in there, in addition to the skills you need them to have. 

  • Avatar Pamela S. says:

    While the use of personality testing has become more commonplace, the job applicants have become wise to it. Clever people can sometimes be deceptive in their responses so that they appear as someone other than who they really are. Personality tests should not completely replace the face-to-face interaction with the applicant.

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