How to spot a Narcissist in a Job Interview

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As Benjamin Franklin famously quoted, “He that falls in love with himself will have no rivals”, narcissism aka toxic selfishness is one of the most sabotaging traits.


Now for a business, a narcissist can pose serious threat to its people and work culture. So how do you identify a narcissist during the hiring process or in a job interview? This has been a thing of concern for talent acquisition experts and human resource personnel since ages.


So the candidate appeared superb on papers, had MBA from a reputed university and holds work experience from a reputed company. Also, clears selection rounds seamlessly. However, when asked for references from past employers, the candidate simply begins to dither. It starts bothering the candidate that the interviewer wants to check with his/her current or past employers. However, you go ahead with your gut feelings and hire the candidate only to find out that he/she is a charismatic narcissist and you have end up hiring the wrong employee.


Narcissists perceive the world through the lens of “me” and yet are easily able to fetch jobs and climb high with the sheer ability of selling themselves to employers.


Hiring them comes with a price. They crave for glory and get angry easily when rejected the same. They can manipulate others around them to get things done.


Here’s how you can spot a narcissist right at the interview:

1. Narcissists find it difficult to take criticisms and feedbacks. So during the interview, if the interviewer criticises something on his/her bio-data or talks about a negative feedback obtained from reference or cross-verification process, they tend to argue or disprove.


2. Narcissist hate giving credit to others, which is one trait bosses hate to see at work. Thus, interviewers should ask candidates to describe about achievements of team that they have worked with. Who knows, you will get to hear about how the candidate steered the project.


3. Pay attention to how the candidate is describing his/her ex-employers and previous job positions. Reason being, narcissists often tend to subtly criticise their former employers or are out on job hunt seeking new challenges. Often, HR managers fail to ask about the employer’s side of story pertaining to challenges encountered.


4. HR managers ought to devise multiple interview rounds and allow peers and staff personnel to interview the candidates. This is quite helpful if you are recruiting for a profile out of our league. Narcissists expect to be appointed after the first interview rounds. Whilst they might stay calm through the remaining interviews, but you need to watch out for signs of impatience or edginess here.


5. Last but not the least, look out for excess self-promotion and self-proclamation. Ask for stats, examples or figures that back up all the claims. This is where most of the narcissists screw it up spilling the beans for you.




Talk to the people who may know the candidate in question. This can include /her clients, colleagues, peers, managers, subordinates. etc. Don’t fall for the claims easily and avoid going with your gut feelings all the time. This shall help you get behind the toxic-selfishness trait of the candidate or hidden narcissist lurking behind that dazzling face in front of you.


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