How to spot a Narcissist in a Job Interview

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How to Spot a Narcissist in a Job Interview
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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 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 to sell themselves to employers.  Hiring them comes with a price. They crave glory and get angry easily when rejected the same. They can manipulate others around them to get things done.


For a business, a narcissist can pose a 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 for ages.


Narcissism is the term we often use very loosely as soon as we spot some self-centred or selfish behaviour. But Narcissism is a lot more than that and we should not be that harsh to judge people with unpleasant behaviour towards others.


Narcissism is a lot more than boasting and the need for attention. There is a difference between having narcissistic traits or healthy narcissism and narcissistic personality disorder.


What is Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD)?

A person with a narcissistic personality disorder does have a pattern of grandiose sense of self which refers to the belief that they are better than others. In addition to that these people lack empathy and have a need for admiration. They also tend to disregard other people’s feelings even the ones those who are close to them.


These people also like to be in control of other people and tend to use various manipulation tactics including bullying and gaslighting. The beliefs that are superior to everyone or their need to be admired often tend to be based on fantasies and often these assumptions are far from reality.


What is Healthy Narcissism?

Not every narcissist has a narcissistic personality disorder. Every person carries a bit of healthy narcissism with them. It is essential for us to have a healthy self-esteem. Healthy narcissism helps you to enjoy your accomplishment and know that you deserve good things in life.


Healthy narcissist behaviour is essential to feel proud of your achievements and share them with other people as that makes them feel good. But it doesn’t mean that they lack empathy or dismiss other people’s feelings.


A person with narcissistic disorder lacks any type of empathy for other people. Their tendency to manipulate and take advantage of their coworkers can actually harm the healthy work culture in the long run. Adding some more reasons why you should not hire a narcissist in the company.


People with narcissistic personality disorder are constantly self-centred and are not aware of how their behaviour affects others. They are consistent in their behaviour. On the other hand, most people behave in a self-centred manner now and then, the behaviour does not last forever.


A healthy person also likes to be the centre of attention. We also can be mean, selfish and disrespectful sometimes. But a person with a narcissistic personality evidently shows these traits constantly in their behaviour.


People become aware of their misbehaviour soon and might even apologise for the same. A narcissistic personality on the other hand is totally unaware of the harm they cause and are likely to get angry or manipulate instead of accepting their fault.


Why You Shouldn’t Hire a Person with a Narcissistic Personality Disorder?

Narcissists find it difficult to take criticisms and feedback. So when they are working in the company they want to do things their way while the better and more productive way exists. That also makes them reject any suggestions for improvement and that may also bother teammates who work with a narcissist as the quality of their own work depends on the quality of the work output of a narcissistic person.


People who have narcissistic personality disorder hate giving credit to others, which is one trait we hate to see at work. This trait is problematic for everyone because a person with narcissism may take advantage of others to achieve their goals.No one wants to see their hard work going in vain.


People with narcissism are someone who has a very unrealistic sense of self-importance. As they may have a sense of entitlement and consider themselves superior to those who work with the narcissist, they often tend to be disrespectful to coworkers.


Also Read:

How to Spot a Person with Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD)?

Here are a few primary symptoms of narcissistic personality disorder. These signs of narcissism can help you to spot a narcissist in an interview. While a person needs to exhibit many of the following characteristics and should be medically reviewed by an expert to say that these people have a narcissistic personality disorder or to be clinically diagnosed with narcissism.


➔ Need to be Admired

The person requires other people to admire them even devoid of any significant work. They may even say that they were not given enough control over the work while what they want to say is that they wanted to be in control of the people around them.


For example, a candidate may state that they left their previous job because their work was not recognised at their previous company. At the same time, they might fail to share instances where they exhibited exceptional or admirable work.


➔ Arrogance

People with narcissistic personality disorder are highly critical of everyone around them. They can be also very mean or disrespectful to others as they see themselves as above everyone.


You can be able to detect this trait of a narcissist candidate if observe that they repeatedly talk about their colleague or even a manager as if they are all stupid. Those who work with a narcissist often feel demotivated or frustrated due to constant criticism.


➔ Entitlement

Narcissistic people feel entitled, which makes them think that they should be in control of everything. These people demand to be treated with special respect irrespective of how harmful their behaviour is to others and they also want others to follow their orders.


They are unable to recognize their mistake and look at them as everyone else’s fault but their own. They feel so entitled that they want other people to sacrifice to accommodate their needs without significant reason to back it.


They want everything around them working for their convenience which is the reason they often deny to follow rules which are inconvenient to them.


In the interview, you can ask people how they see the policies at their present and past organizations. Pay attention to what are their reasons for disrespecting the authority, if that’s that really makes sense it’s just the inconvenience they are bothered about.


➔ Envy and Jealousy

Narcissists want to be the centre of attention all the time. When they see good qualities in others they might feel threatened to lose the attention and importance. They think they are the best so it’s difficult for them to see that someone else has better things and achievements than them.


They are easy to get envious of people rather than being happy for them. That also makes them go on explaining how other people don’t really deserve the accomplishments.


The person with a narcissistic personality disorder also assumes that everyone else is jealous of them as they are the best. That is another reason they use to dismiss the criticism and complaints that others might have about them.


If you want to check if the candidate displays the same behaviour ask them their opinion on someone else’s promotion. You can also ask if they believe that corporate coworkers tend to be very jealous of their coworkers. You are likely to get a rant on how people are jealous of them and keep on complaining about them.


➔ Exploitation and Manipulation

People with narcissistic personality disorder are more likely to manipulate, cheat, lie, exploit or even gaslight the other person for their own benefit. You need to know the one personally to witness this type of behaviour. You need to note that lying and cheating doesn’t necessarily mean a narcissist.


On the other hand, if the candidate is bragging about how they took advantage of someone and took the entire credit you are likely to be interviewing a narcissist. If they also exhibit complete disregard for other people’s needs, wants and feelings you need to be careful with your hiring decision. They might also try to influence your opinion about them using their charm or attempts to flatter you.


Grandiose self-importance also states that narcissists often have an inflated sense of self-importance. Look for signs of excessive self-praise or boasting about achievements that seem unrealistic or exaggerated


➔ Grandiose and Fantasy

Grandiosity is the trait of narcissists there they have an unrealistic sense of achievement or possibilities and fantasies for the future. They may exaggerate and lie about their abilities too. They tend to have unrealistic goals without a plan to achieve the goal. Their ambition is completely based on their belief that they can achieve everything.


For example, they may claim to be able to handle the responsibilities where they totally lack the necessary skill, education or experience. When a narcissistic candidate states an unrealistic promise and you ask them about their plan they can produce some vague statement saying they will just do it without any plan.


➔ Lack of Empathy

A person has an impaired empathy for other people which makes them extremely rude and unapologetic in their behaviour. It’s difficult for them to accept their faults or look at things from a different perspective. That makes them unfit to work as a team and are more likely to disturb the existing team dynamics.


➔ Dominating the conversation

Narcissists tend to dominate conversations and steer them towards themselves. They may interrupt or dismiss others’ ideas and focus solely on their own achievements and interests. Pay attention to whether the candidate actively listens and engages with you or consistently redirects the conversation towards themselves.


➔ Lack of Accountability

Narcissists may struggle with taking responsibility for their actions and may blame others or external factors for their mistakes or shortcomings. Ask the narcissist about challenging situations they have faced and observe how they discuss their role and accountability in those situations.


➔ Poor Listening Skills

Narcissists often have a strong need for attention and may not be genuinely interested in what others have to say. Observe whether the candidate actively listens to your questions, provides thoughtful responses, and shows genuine interest in the conversation.


Remember, these signs are not definitive proof of narcissism but can serve as red flags during the interview process. It’s essential to consider the overall impression of the candidate, their qualifications, and their fit for the role and company culture before making any judgments.





Talk to the people who may know the candidate in question. This can include /her clients, colleagues, peers, managers, and 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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