Copyright TIGERS Success Series

By Dianne Crampton

He’s suave, debonair, smartly dressed, and says all the right things you want to hear. Sound like the ideal date? Hardly… he is sitting right across from you at the interview table and could be your future employee from hell.

In a recent post, I reported that as the economy starts to heat up, employers could stand to lose as much as 79% of their workforce. And employers that didn’t watch their Ps & Qs during the Great Recession may find themselves among the organizations seeking new hires as their existing teams wave goodbye leaving for greener pastures. If his happens to you, how do you ensure you won’t replace one disengaged employee for a nightmare employee who looks good on paper and can charm a snake?

According to a study published in the Journal of Applied Social Psychology, when it comes to interviews, narcissists do it better because they’re not at all shy about self-promoting.  No surprise there, but how do these employees fare working side by side with the rest of the organization’s team? While narcissists are good at landing the job, they ultimately tend to bring a toxic component into the office environment.

Peter Harms, the study’s lead author and assistant professor of management at the University of Nebraska states, “Under high pressure narcissists increase their self- promotion. They talk a lot and they talk fast. And people tend to mistake that fast talking as a sign of competence and intelligence. They think that fast talkers have a lot to say and know the material so well that they don’t need to pause and think about it.”

A narcissistic employee tossed into the ranks of a well-oiled team will never gain your team’s respect. What they will bring is chaos, discontent, and eventually a higher turnover rate among valuable employees who no longer want to deal with the “I can do it better than anyone else” attitude.

While it is still true that individual innovation and strategic thinking are highly valued, there are ingredients missing from the narcissist’s personal arsenal such– interpersonal skills, empathy, and the ability to work collaboratively. Without the ability to communicate, listen, and build relationships with peers, these individual so-called “star performers” can leave a toxic trail behind them wherever they go.

So how do you spot the narcissist when interviewing? Other successful organizations have utilized the TIGERS Team Wheel game to apply fundamental principles and insights to their interviewing process.  This has saved employers from major headaches and financial loss due to the hiring of a narcissistic employee.

Here are four questions employers need to seek answers to when interviewing a new hire:

  • How do they resolve conflict? Narcissists will seek political advantage by sabotaging other employees.
  • Where does accountability lie? Narcissists will always point the finger. (Remember…they can do things better than anyone else)
  • How do they work within a team environment?  Narcissists will insist they ARE the team.
  • Where does their commitment and loyalties lie? Hand the narcissist a mirror for this one.

Many organizations are realizing what “elite” preferred employers have known for quite some time. They are realizing they must make their hiring selections based on character, communication, and willingness to work in a collaborative team environment for the success of the organization as a whole. On the flip side, the narcissist will swoop in to sweep an organization off its feet while kicking the idea of “team” to the curb along with productivity and profits.

Join us in a complimentary 45 minute webinar and online discussion on how to buid a workforce environment where trust and cooperation thrive here.