HR Take Notice: Narcissists Do Best In Job Interviews

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HR Take Notice: Narcissists Do Best In Job Interviews


Reblogged from Forbes

Author: Victor Lipman

A new study from the University of British Columbia shows that narcissists do best in job interviews – and are more successful “than equally qualified candidates who act more Handsome narcissistic young man looking in a mirror, human resources, hrmodestly.”  The study has substantive implications for Human Resources operations and hiring managers, as well as for job candidates.

Narcissism, derived from the Greek myth of Narcissus, who fell in love with his reflection, involves, per the definition from Psychology Today, “arrogant behavior, a lack empathy for other people, and a need for admiration” – qualities that are consistently exhibited both at work and in relationships.  Narcissists are frequently impulsive and grandiose and tend not to work well with others.   Thus, the importance of management making sound decisions in avoiding hiring narcissists whenever possible.

This new study, however, suggests the opposite actually occurs – since the outgoing and charismatic personalities of narcissists help them excel in interview settings.

“A job interview is one of the few social situations where narcissistic behaviors such as boasting actually create a positive impression,” said Del Paulhus, Psychology Professor at the University of British Columbia and the study’s lead author.  “Normally, people are put off by such behavior, especially over repeated exposure. “  The research noted that “narcissists tended to talk about themselves, make eye contact, joke around and ask the interviewers more questions.  As a result, the study found that people rated narcissists as more attractive candidates for the position.”

Study reveals interview cultural bias – The study also revealed an important cultural bias, as participants of Japanese, Chinese and Korean heritage “showed lower levels of narcissism, and were less likely to receive ‘definitely hire’ ratings as a result.”  The tendency to be impressed by narcissists, noted Paulus, “results in an indirect cultural bias – particularly against East Asians.”

Regarding the study’s logistics, research participants were first evaluated by a questionnaire that measures levels of narcissism, and then were videotaped in a job-interview scenario, and later scored by a team of raters.

So what are the study’s key lessons?  “Candidates should engage with the interviewer while continuing to self-promote,” Paulhus said.  More important from an HR or company standpoint, Paulhus concluded, “Interviewers should look beyond cultural style and assess individual qualifications.  Instead of superficial charm, interviewers must analyze candidates’ potential long-term fit in the organization.”

Which is why it’s always so important for key hiring decision makers to focus on a job candidate’s actual prior results – verifiable hard data – rather than being unduly swayed by charm or force of personality.

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About Author

Scott Rosen

Want to know why 90% of the NJ, NY, DE and PA companies who work with us for their HR staffing needs (including Merck, Rutgers, PNC Bank, Daimer-Chrysler, Pfizer, SAP America and 150+ others) either re-hire our firm or refer us? We specialize exclusively in the Direct-Hire and Contract Placement of Human Resources Professionals including EVP of HR, VP of HR, Human Resources Manager, Compensation Manager, HR Generalist, Benefits Manager & Training Managers. The Rosen Group is one of very few firms in the NJ, NY, PA, and DE area that focuses on one, single area all day, every day – Recruiting and assessing HR talent! Our low-volume (2-3 positions filled per week, 8-12 per month and 100 per year), highly-consultative “super-niche” approach means that I will send you the right candidates – the first time (and typically within 1 week). For example 98% of our HR contractors complete their assignments, 50% are extended and 30% to 40% receive permanent offers! We’re giving Fortune 500 companies, SMBs and nonprofit organizations access to the best and brightest HR candidates. We have a database of thousands of HR executives with a wide range of experience, expertise and talent at all levels all the way up to the VP HR level. Plus we use social media and employment branding strategies to get your opportunities in front of top candidates. We're committed to the professional growth and development of the HR executives that we place for clients. That’s why I founded the HR Executive Alliance and the Talent Acquisition Leadership Alliance and have created the HR Department of the Year Awards. Maybe this is why the Rosen Group is one of the Inc 500 Fastest Growing Companies (Number 147!) – and why 90% of our clients refers us or rehire us.



June 23, 2014at 10:53 am

Yeah, narcissists get tagged as unfeeling and Me-oriented. While some are Me-oriented, I disagree with the total negative connotation of promoting one’s accomplishments as simply me-oriented. Because being proud of your accomplishments simply says — “I came/come to play…be it in sport or at work – I contribute to a team result and as an individual. I came/come to make a difference”. About me, at work or play – believe that.

In terms of viable performances don’t be shy about embracing your actual role in such outcomes. The truth sorts itself out and, by the way, while humility has its place…being invisible can make you hard to find when your performance is lost in the shuffle.

On LinkedIn — I feature a picture of myself standing in 1st Place on a national award stand in T&F competition. A moment I’m quite proud of and am narcissistic enough to share it publically. I have quite a few photos for winning national and world competitions and don’t mind mentioning them as a statement of “PERFORMANCES” that speak to how much hard work and sacrifice, and some luck, goes into being a top competitor in sport — and in my career as recruiter as well.

So you can ding me for flaunting myself — through my awards, in sport and in my career — but you cannot ignore a true competitor with results that prove the point.

No brag, just fact.

Bob Gately

June 23, 2014at 6:24 pm

Hello Scott,

If an employer stops at the interview then they deserve to hire narcissists as well as other less than successful employees.

Interviews should be all about the interviewee not the employer. Interviewees should not have to persuade the employer to hire them but rather the employer needs to persuade the right applicant to accept the job offer. Only the employer can know which applicants will be successful if hired. Since an applicant cannot know if she’ll be successful if hired, she must ask questions to learn if the employer knows, most do not. Applicants need to ask the hiring manager, “How do you know that I will be successful if I am hired?” If the answer is just a review of your resumes, education, experience, and interview performance you can be sure they don’t know if you’ll be successful. In which case be very careful since your job tenure depends on their answer.

80% of employees self-report that they are not engaged.
80% of managers are ill suited to effectively manage people.
The two 80 percents are closely related.

Successful employees have all three of the following success predictors while unsuccessful employees lack one or two and usually it is Job Talent that they lack.
1. Competence
2. Cultural Fit
3. Job Talent 

Employers do a… 

A. great job of hiring competent employees. 

B. good job of hiring competent employees who fit the culture. 

C. poor job of hiring competent employees who fit the culture and who have a talent for the job. 

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