Assessing the Dark Side of Your Candidates

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A recent doctoral study of 3200 candidates by Christian Enger Gimsø at BI Norwegian Business School found that those with narcissistic personality traits tend to ace interviews and get selected for management and leadership positions.


The study found that when organizations set out to recruit new leaders, they typically look for candidates who are dynamic, self-confident, strong negotiators, and who have the capacity to be tough decision makers – traits that are usually associated with strong leadership skills and abilities. Unfortunately these are the same “qualities” in people who have narcissistic tendencies.


People with narcissistic personality disorders tend to be concerned with dominance, recognition, power and status, and they naturally gravitate to leadership and management positions. Most of them would not think twice about using others to achieve their own goals.


Generally, people who are high on the narcissistic trait lack the ability to relate to others and they would not think twice about running their own agendas at the expense of others around them.


So how do you work around this conundrum?


Here are three suggested strategies to overcome this challenge:


    1. Treat all candidates as equally as possible during the job interviews.

      • Ensure that every candidate is assessed using the same methods and strategies. Use the same questions for every candidate so as to ensure equal treatment and therefore fair assessment.


    1. Do not just assess candidates for qualities you want; also assess candidates for qualities you do not want.

      • As mentioned earlier, do not just focus on assessing the positive attributes or core competencies of the candidate you are interviewing. Probe into the negative attributes as well. Look into those traits and qualities that you definitely do not want in your organization or on your team.


  1. Perform thorough reference checks.

    • If it is a leadership position that you are recruiting to fill, do not stop the reference checks at their peers or their bosses. Talk to their subordinates if you can. Subordinates very often can provide you with a very different perspective of the candidate.

Obviously, this should not be restricted to recruitment of leadership and management positions. You should assess for negative traits and attributes in the non-leadership and non-management positions as well.

Put simply, assess for negative traits for all positions that you hire. It always pays to obtain a more complete and well-rounded view of your candidate – both the positive aspects of the candidate and also the negative aspects or the “dark side” of your candidate.


About the Author

STEVEN LOCK is a Speaker, Trainer, Author and a Leadership Coach. Steven brings with him two decades of corporate experience.

Steven is passionate about helping organisations transform their teams into high performing teams. He does that by first helping organisations identify and hire the right people, and then training their leaders and managers on how to manage and lead their people to achieve peak performance consistently.

He is the developer of The CAAP® High Performance Model. This model focuses on Culture (cultural fit), Attitude, Aptitude and Personality dimensions of their employees and job candidates. It is a highly practical, effective and proven approach. Steven believes that for organizations to be truly successful and perform at their highest levels, they need to shift their mind-sets to having the RIGHT people on-board – and not necessarily the best or the brightest.

Steven is the Author of two books:

• “Hiring for Performance: The CAAP® Model to Hiring and Building High-Performance Teams.”
• “The Right Talent: The Agility-Focused Interviewing Approach™ to Hiring the Right Candidate Every Time.”

He is also the developer of The Leadership STYLE Report™ that is based on Dr. Daniel Goleman’s research on leadership styles.

Steven has been featured on MediaCorp’s live radio show The Breakfast Club on 938FM, and has contributed numerous articles to Singapore Business Review, ST Recruit, SHRI Human Capital and other publications. His comments on Team Collaboration was quoted in the Spring 2014 Edition of the Harvard Business Review OnPoint Magazine.

Steven holds a Master of Business (Information Technology) from Curtin University of Technology, Western Australia. He is a certified DISC & MBTI® (Step I & II) practitioner.

Recently Steven was invited as a guest speaker to share about his CAAP(R) High Performance Model with over 600 delegates at the Vietnam HR Summit 2016 in Ho Chi Minh City.

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July 14, 2015

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