It appears narcissism may be the tipping point that gets you the job over the equally competent pool of candidates. Being impressive just became so much more important.

 Psychology Professor’s take on Narcissists and the Job Interview

The University of British Columbia released a study that as of late has picked up serious online traction and is taking the Career and HR industry by storm. We finally have empirical evidence, as supported by the work of Psychology Professor Delroy L. Paulhus, that “narcissistic applicants are more successful in job interviews than equally qualified candidates who act more modestly.” The study was published in the Journal of Applied Social Psychology in October 2013, and can be found in full here.

Stay true to the Research

There has been a lot of buzz about the publication of this recent article, “Job interviews reward narcissists, punish applicants from modest cultures.” It has spurred a response from the likes of Forbes, the Huffington Post, and Workopolis. However, become delving into all the secondary sources, opinions and commentary – it is important to stay true to the research.

 Narcissist and Non-Narcissist Group

Professor Paulhus conducted two studies. The first study consisted of the videotaping of a series of interviews with narcissist and non-narcissist candidates with expert and non-expert interviewers. The candidate were provided a questionnaire that organized them into narcissist and non-narcissist groups. The candidates were of European and East Asian heritage, with the underlying hypothesis that the former is a self-promoting culture and the latter is much more modest as a collective. The second study brought in 222 raters to evaluate the interview videos on the basis of narcissism and heritage. Certain behavioural tactics espoused by those identified as high-narcissist, such as frequent self-praise was a positive interview technique. On the other hand, there was a European-heritage advantage deriving from their collective use of “active ingratiation” that boded well for the candidates. Ultimately the raters found that the candidates in the narcissist group were the most attractive job candidates.

 Narcissists are charming – Don’t fall for it

Professor Paulhus makes an interesting link between the “the pro-narcissism bias results in an indirect cultural bias.” Those in the position of enviable power, the interviewers, must be acutely aware of this indirect bias when interviewing potential candidates. He suggests interviewers “look beyond cultural style and assess individual qualifications” and attempt to shield themselves from the “superficial charm” of natural narcissists. The most important criteria for an interviewer should be the applicant’s potential in the organization and whether or not they are a good fit for the team.