Think Twice About Hiring a Narcissist

A narcissist is an arrogant person who has a grandiose sense of self-importance, a sense of entitlement and requires excessive admiration. Narcissistic people are self-absorbed and are usually unable to reflect on personal behavior. They often compete with fellow employees, are intolerant of criticism, and lack empathy or the ability to understand other points of view (Robbins & Judge).

Jeff Simpson, director-psychometrician at Ethos Consulting Group, has spent six years researching narcissism in the workplace for his PhD. Simpson concludes that organizations are better off not hiring narcissistic people. Simpson’s research found that people with narcissistic traits were the lowest performing group and they were overrated the most within six months of employment. Simpson claims that not only does their performance and productivity fall short of their assertions, but their inability to integrate socially can affect workplace morale.

Since narcissists usually are very impressive during interviews, Simpson advices interviewers to create pressure and see how the person will react to the pressure. Typically, narcissists do not show defensive behavior, such as narcissistic rage, unless he/she is under pressure. Interviewers can create pressure by asking questions that probe beyond the usual questions into areas they are unlikely to have prepared for. For example – “Why would I not like working with you?” Or “Why would I not agree with the solution you proposed” – would likely elicit an unexpectedly irritated response.

To read more on this topic, check out: Helen Frances’ article “Beware Narcissists in Workplace” in the New Zealand Herald.


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