Job interviews reward narcissists


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It would be interesting to see how this applies to technical interviews. I’m sure there’s a role, but most of the engineers at my place would never be mistaken for salespeople (except the ones whose job that is, self-selected). But we can tell if you’re faking it when we talk about motor control, for instance. Introverted people tend to do okay in the interview as long as they can answer the questions and have a good resume - that’s the big place to sell yourself.

But I imagine when you’re dealing with subjects with little in the way of obvious hard things to check, like manager of people at a corporation, then it’s like the essay question on an English test. Bullshit away!


More interesting, I think, is how does this affect the countless “dead-end” jobs that untold numbers of people rely on getting and holding, simply to make ends meet?

If even gas stations and fast food places favor egotists over humble people, we make living paycheck to paycheck even harder for people with quiet and unassuming personalities.


True, true. Reminds me that in the judicial system in Alaska one has to remember that if someone is from one of the coastal tribes and accused you are socially expected to appear guilty even if you are not. In the tribe if you appear guilty you are less likely to be punished, but in European based culture it is the other way around, the appearance of guilt implies guilt. And fyi I don’t interview well, not the way I was raised (keep your head down, don’t look your elder in the eye, don’t talk too much or first, wait to respond, definitely do not brag…)


Oh good, yet another thing for the sensitive, introverted and polite to have to contend with.


you can be extroverted while also being sensitive and polite.

You can also be oblivious to your behavior and think you’re being polite or sensitive.


Of course, but it seems people seem to assume extroversion = insensitive and impolite and introverted = sensitive and polite which isn’t really true.


Would it surprise you to learn that people trained in the Humanities would be able to discern detailed competence in that area of expertise with as much precision as you can read engineers?


But we can tell if you’re faking it when we talk about motor control,
for instance. Introverted people tend to do okay in the interview as
long as they can answer the questions and have a good resume - that’s
the big place to sell yourself.

Which doesn’t help if the boss – who is also a narcissist – decides to go with the candidate who is completely bullshitting it over the engineer who actually knows what he’s talking about but is not the smoothest presenter.

I had one boss actually comment that candidate A had a much more expensive suit than candidate B, so therefore candidate A was the much better choice (even though A had almost zero knowledge about the relatively technical task required of the job being interviewed for).

Boss overruled everyone in the interview an dhired candidate A. We had temps pretty much do A’s actual job for him (he seemed to be hired more for his golf game than anything else).

The entire institution of job interviews is kind of like religious rituals – they are so ingrained in the culture that they are seen as good in and of themselves and anybody who questions them is looked at as a bit daft.


Speaking as a modest (so modest I hesitate to describe myself as such) self-effacing comment poster, I’d wish to challenge the idea (if that’s ok with the rest of you) that ‘self-aggrandizing narcissist’ is the only other choice. (But I never did get the jobs I really wanted).

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Probably helps explain why I’ve bombed every job interview I’ve ever had.

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I can’t speak for oldtaku, but having studied the Humanities myself and been in extensive contact with academics of many stripes, I’d say yes, that’d be very surprising.

It’s one thing to discern someone who lacks actual knowledge of things like literature, history, philosophy, and art, because you can just start a conversation with them about things they ought to know in those fields. You can’t just fake that kind of knowledge - you have to know your history, you have to know your literary authors, you have to know the schools of philosophical thought, and you have to know the artists.

But “management”? Many companies don’t fill those positions based on hard numbers and proof of an applicant’s ability pertaining worker and resource efficiency - they base it on things like how good an applicant’s appearance is, how well they sell themselves, and how closely they adhere to the corporate culture already in place.

Most managerial positions don’t require proof of competance. They don’t ask for portfolios of your prior work, and they don’t test your aptitude or skills in actually managing people. They simply look to see if you walk the walk, talk the talk, wear the suit, and lick the boot.

They want the bold and brash shyster who can talk their way into the position without any clue what they’re actually doing, not the humdrum boring thinker who crunches actual numbers to find ways to increase efficiency and who understands human motivation and psychology beyond making people miserable via passive aggression and petty schoolyard manipulations.

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You can be introverted, and a narcissist. I’ve often had people tell me I should stand up for myself more, but the truth is, I don’t care about proving myself, because I know I’m right, and that’s the only opinion that matters (to me).
And yes, I’ve always been great at job interviews.

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Same here; I’m no extrovert but I tend not to shit myself like a deer in the headlights, since I figure that if I don’t impress you, chances are you’re not worth impressing.

Still, it can take a conscious effort not to get burned by Dunning-Kruger, from talking like a scientist and rejecting certainty.

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I don’t think the job I want has actually been invented. It is also possible I’m just a lazy bum, but I’m going with the former.


I’m glad someone is printing articles about something that everyone with any sense has known for years. Every time I hear older people complain about how all the “millenials” are narcissists I want to scream at them, “Maybe don’t design your interview process to reward narcissists and you’ll meet the ones who aren’t.”

I did a post-discussion after my last job interview to find out what I could have done better. I was told that when I related my experience it wasn’t clear what I had done, and specifically, that I used the word “we” too much instead of “I”. So if I just claimed credit for everything that went right while mentally blaming everything that went wrong on someone else then I’d have the job? Good to know that’s who people want to hire.


Interviews are strange. They’re basically the equivalent of marrying someone after a first date. Anyone who talks to you during the interview process typically has a “no” veto but can’t hire you on the spot. Good places will have a standard interview script to limit bias, while some bad ones may go simply by “gutfeel”. And the script for this process seems a bit cryptic if you don’t take the time to think of what they’re really asking you.

Being a weird ritual, interviews are a practiced skill, and shaping your work experiences to answer common behavioral questions (How do you handle conflict? Have you shown leadership? What value would you bring the company? etc) is a lot of the prep work for it. If you’re having trouble, try reading this book. The cover may seem gimmicky but it has sound advice for anyone going through the interview process.

If someone is able to wing through an interview without practice, they probably are a narcissist.

Also, remember that interviewing is a two-way street. An interview is your chance to figure out whether a company will be a good fit for you. Is there high turn over? How is the company culture? What does a normal day look like for someone in your position? Does the company even know what this position is supposed to fill, or are they collecting warm bodies?

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I know all about interviews and how I could be practicing to do better at them. I have practiced to some extent, but I’m sure I could do better. That doesn’t change the fact that’s it’s idiotic. If they chose who to hire based on free throw percentage then I’d be out there on the court every day, I guess, but that system - clearly moronic - would probably be better than the current one.

And if someone can hit those free throws without a lot of preparation they are probably a regular basketball player. I don’t think that anyone can doubt that hiring based on free throws would hire a disproportionate number of basketball players, so there is no reason to doubt that our current hiring process hires narcissists disproportionately.

I’m not sure why my or any employer wants people to show that they can adequately pretend to be an insufferable and potentially dangerous asshole for a short stretch of time before hiring them. But when it comes from an employer that advertises their commitment to diversity, it’s downright offensive.


life rewards narcissists.

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