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The Champion Forum Podcast

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How to Avoid Hiring A Narcissist

Thank you for listening to The ChampionForum Podcast with Jeff Hancher! Have you ever had an interview that went exceptionally well until you realized you missed a few red flags? One of the biggest challenges that leaders face when hiring is failing to ask questions that will reveal potentially disruptive, narcissistic, or entitled employees. Today on The Champion Forum Podcast, I discuss how to avoid hiring entitled employees.


Characteristics of Entitled Employees

  • Display an inflated sense of their importance.

  • Unable to empathize with others.

  • Expect rewards regardless of performance.

  • Believe that they deserve special treatment or exemptions.

  • Feel superior to their peers.

  • Prefer to work independently.

  • Resent authority.

  • Care too much about others’ opinions.

  • Feel like they must constantly prove themselves.

  • They often play the role of the victim

  • Don’t take corrective criticism well.


Q: Have you ever worked with an entitled employee? What was it like? Have you ever worked with a narcissist? How was that different than working with an entitled employee?


How can you avoid hiring a narcissist?

Narcissists will destroy your business. Fortunately, not all entitled people are narcissists. But if you want a healthy culture, it’s good to ensure your interview process includes questions that will reveal both entitled and narcissistic tendencies. Good interview questions are a time investment upfront, but if you do them correctly, you will be well on your way to finding your next great employee. Remember, people are on their best behavior during an interview. You need to use the best interview questions to raise the red flags for someone who will create conflict on your team. 


Questions to ask:

1.  Have you ever felt your skills were inadequate for the tasks assigned to you?

An entitled believes that their skills can match any task. You will often see this when an employee believes they are ready for a promotion, but their skills don’t match up. If a candidate has difficulty identifying a time when their skills weren’t good enough for a task, you might have an entitled candidate.


2.  Tell me about the last time that you made a mistake.

Begin to watch your candidate’s body language as soon as you ask this question. A narcissist will begin to get uncomfortable, and it will show in their face and their posture. Narcissists often have shaky self-esteem, making them very unlikely to take responsibility. Ultimately, they will settle in and try to provide the answer you want to hear. So, make sure you observe all of their nonverbal communication as well.


3.  How do you expect your career to progress?

When someone answers this question, listen to how much slower, or faster, they expect their career progression to be than what reality is in your company. If it’s much faster, follow that question with a correct statement about how promotions are handled and their relative timelines within your organization. Then, watch their reaction. If they have difficulty adjusting, you could be dealing with an entitled candidate.


4. What were you grateful for in your last job?

I have experienced that the most entitled people are not that grateful. If someone does not feel grateful for anything in their workplace, they likely think those things should be theirs. Unfortunately, few things in life are given to us by right, and having the ability to be grateful is a trait that many entitled employees lack.


5.  How many people within your current company would you say are not fans of yours? (What words would they use to describe you?)

Few people get along perfectly with everyone, but look out for the candidate who laughs this question off or even admits that many people do not like them. A narcissist will play the victim, and an entitled employee will be clueless as to why people do not like them.


Q: What other questions would you ask to identify other characteristics of narcissism? How could you test your candidate’s ability to show empathy? 


Application Activities:

  1. Does your hiring process include lunch with members of the team? If not, consider adding it to your interview process. Train the people who go to lunch with new candidates to note whether the candidate gives them their full attention. Ask them questions about their interactions to look for traits like empathy and collaboration.

  2. If you have an entitled employee, start at square one: setting expectations. Identify where their beliefs are misaligned with your expectations and show them the path to what they want (if even possible). If they cannot adjust, continue to give feedback and determine whether you will coach them to continue with the organization or coach them out to another job opportunity. 

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