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How to Deal with an Arrogant Candidate During a Job Interview

How to Deal with an Arrogant Candidate During a Job Interview Job interviews can be a painful process in several ways. Sometimes you deal with smelly applicants, other times candidates are clueless and clearly falsified their resume, and, unfortunately, in even more situations, we end up having to put up with an arrogant, pompous narcissist.

There is a fine line between confidence and arrogance. Confident applicants are people who you want working with you. They believe in themselves and their abilities, and can back-up their claims with real life experience, references, and measurable proof. Arrogant people may possess those qualities, though it may be a false confidence if they can’t prove experience, and they come with other traits that will damage your corporate culture. To spot the poison before it sneaks onto your team, keep an eye out for certain behaviours during the interview. Some examples include:

  • Negativity towards past co-workers and managers
  • Inflating importance on past projects
  • Avoiding eye contact
  • Interrupting
  • Using condescending tones and language
  • Blaming others for past failures
  • Making you sell them on the open position, as though you may not be good enough for them

How do we deal with these pesky headaches? Here are 6 strategies you should consider — you’ll notice they all involve taking the high road (no matter how much you’d like to bring them down a notch).

  1. The first step is to determine if you’re talking to the “real” candidate. Physically you have the right person (hopefully) but are they nervous and not acting like their true selves? This can be confirmed through reference checks, but it also requires good judgement.
  2. Look at their skills and decide if what they bring to the table will out-weight the fact that they come with a not-so-good personality. Will your team be able to handle this person?
  3. Ask some questions about their current work environment to understand their present situation. A work environment filled with more arrogant people, coupled with a low self-esteem, can cause a nice person to act arrogant. Will your culture bring them back down to Earth?
  4. Remember that their accomplishments should speak for themselves. If your candidate seems to be overselling and trying to convince you they’re awesome, they’re probably not awesome.
  5. Get yourself through the interview and be polite. Job applicants are still considered customers, and they will talk about a negative experience. Being rude can cause you to lose future star applicants or customers.
  6. If all else fails and you’re ready to throw-up, just cut the interview short. This comes with pre-planning. Refrain from setting expectations by telling them how long an interview will be or exactly what will happen.

Every recruiter, HR professional and hiring manager has been through a dreadful interview with an arrogant person. Believe it or not, a 2012 study from University of Nebraska-Lincoln said job seekers are more successful when they’re narcissists, meaning these people are not going anywhere and have potential to make it into your company. While you can’t control arrogant people, you absolutely can control yourself. Have a look at the signs of arrogance above, and ask yourself: Do job applicants think you’re arrogant?

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