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Narcissists Often Ace Job Interviews, Study Finds

WEDNESDAY, April 4 (HealthDay News) -- Really, really liking yourself may give you the edge in your next job interview, a new study suggests.

That's because narcissists, known to be obnoxiously high on self-esteem, are better able to talk about and promote themselves, which projects confidence and expertise to interviewers, University of Nebraska-Lincoln researchers explained.

In their two-part study, narcissists scored much higher in a simulated job interview than equally qualified non-narcissists.

"This is one setting where it's OK to say nice things about yourself and there are no ramifications. In fact, it's expected," study co-author Peter Harms, an assistant professor of management, said in a university news release. "Simply put, those who are comfortable doing this tend to do much better than those who aren't."

The study, which appears in the Journal of Applied Social Psychology, first involved 72 people being videotaped as job applicants. While non-narcissistic people eased up on their self-promotion when challenged by expert interviewers, the narcissists actually increased their attempts to promote themselves, the researchers found.

In the second part of the study, 222 expert interviewers rated videos of applicants with similar job skills and varying degrees of narcissism. The self-promoters -- those who spoke quickly and at length and used such "ingratiation tactics" as smiling, gesturing and complimenting others -- received far more positive evaluations than equally qualified applicants who used tactical modesty, the researchers reported.

"This shows that what is getting (narcissists) the win is the delivery," Harms said. "These results show just how hard it is to effectively interview, and how fallible we can be when making interview judgments. We don't necessarily want to hire narcissists, but might end up doing so because they come off as being self-confident and capable."

The findings also suggest that interviewers need to be aware of the tactics used by narcissists, Harms said.

"On the whole, we find very little evidence that narcissists are more or less effective workers. But what we do know is that they can be very disruptive and destructive when dealing with other people on a regular basis," he said.

And, he added, "If everything else is equal, it probably is best to avoid hiring them."

More information

The U.S. National Library of Medicine explains narcissistic personality disorder.

-- Robert Preidt

SOURCE: University of Nebraska-Lincoln, news release, April 2, 2012

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