Researchers at the University of Nebraska found that narcissists excel in interviews because they do not shy away from self-promotion. Non-narcissists, however, have trouble over-advertising their talents. That said, narcissists were also found to create toxic work environments, so their benefit really starts and ends in the interview stage.
“The point is that these guys – and girls – are very successful in interview settings,” said the study’s lead author, Peter Harms, an assistant professor of management at the University of Nebraska. “Under high pressure they 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.”
The study is based on simulated interviews with 72 college students. Before each interview, the students were given IQ tests and special surveys designed to pick out the narcissists from the rest of the general group. Students were told the simulated interviews were meant to hone their interviewing skills, and everything was videotaped.
Students were told that either an assistant or an expert was interviewing them. When students thought they were talking to an assistant, most felt comfortable self-promoting. However, “normal” people backed down when challenged by an expert interviewer. Narcissists turned up their level of self-promotion.
“When they feel challenged, they tend to double down,” Harms said. “It’s as if they say, ‘Oh, you’re going to challenge me? Then I’m not just great, I’m fantastic.’ ”
After the interviews were done, 222 people (students and psychological experts) rated the interviewers. Everyone was most impressed with the narcissists. But I’m sure the feeling will soon pass.
How are you at self-promotion? Are you surprised that narcissists excel in job interviews? And how many narcissists do you know that you’d actually invite over for dinner?