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Narcissism has always been perceived as a notorious trait, but it could actually be the one factor helping job-seekers secure their desired positions.
According to a new study by the University of British Columbia (UBC), narcissistic applicants are more successful in job interviews than candidates who are equally qualified, but who act more modestly.
UBC’s professor of psychology, Del Paulhus, the lead author of the study, analysed 72 participants by placing them in job interview scenarios after using questionnaires to measure their levels of narcissism.
Videotapes of the interviews were later scored by a team of 222 raters, who concluded that people who rated as narcissists were viewed as more attractive job candidates.
“The findings suggest that applicants from cultures that place greater emphasis on humility, including some Asian cultures, may have a harder time landing a job in North America,” the report stated.
Those classified as narcissists tended to talk about themselves, make eye contact, joke around and ask the interviewers more questions.
“A job interview is one of the few social situations where narcissistic behaviours such as boasting actually create a positive impression,” Paulhus said.
“Normally, people are put off by such behaviour, especially over repeated exposure.”
The study also highlighted that participants of Japanese, Chinese and Korean heritage exhibited lower levels of narcissism, and were less likely to receive “definitely hire” ratings as a result.
“The pro-narcissism bias results in an indirect cultural bias – particularly against East Asians,” Paulhus observed, adding the study offered important lessons for job candidates and interviewers alike.
“Interviewers should look beyond cultural style and assess individual qualifications. Instead of superficial charm, interviewers must analyse candidates’ potential long-term fit in the organisation.”