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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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10 Out of the Box Questions to Really Get to Know Your Candidates

Out of the Box Questions

Tired of the same old “What are your strengths?” and “Tell me about yourself!” dialogues in your job interviews? So is everyone else! Today’s top hiring managers have figured out what questions to ask to assess behavioural and analytical skills.

We made a top 10 list of our favourite questions that real companies are asking today. These questions may seem strange at first glance, but each one is designed with a specific measure in mind.

  1. If you didn’t have to work, why would you come into the office? – NatureBox

This question is designed to get to know exactly what gets someone out of bed and going in the morning, aside from that report due at noon. This will show you how to motivate this employee and keep them coming into work with a smile. Hiring managers want to know that they’re getting someone who not only has the right skills, but the right attitude to grow with the company and mesh with the culture of the office.

  1. “If you were given $1 million dollars every year for the rest of your life, what would you do?” After an answer, I ask “Ok so you’ve done that, what would you do next?” and continue asking that until they can’t think of anything else. – SoapBox Soaps

This is another question geared towards finding out the candidate’s motivations and priorities.  SoapBox’s CEO, David Simnick likes this question because “Usually the last answer or two shows what the person really wants out of life and tells me what they care about the most. It helps me understand what motivates them.”

  1. Who were the competitors at the last company you worked for and how did your company differentiate itself? – ZipRecruiter

This question tests whether the candidate had a business understanding of their last role that went outside of their day to day tasks. It tells the interviewer whether the candidate really cares to know how to move the company forward, not just themselves. This is a great chance for a team player with an innovative mind to expose itself!

  1. If you could invite only three guests, living or dead, real or fictional, but not family or a love interest, who would your intimate dinner party guests be? – The Pepper Group

This is a great chance to see how the candidate will think on their toes. It usually takes a few nerve-wracking seconds for them to respond, so it will show you how they deal with pressure. A good answer will not only give you some insight on their priorities, but it will also show their creativity and their passions outside of work.

  1. What is your favorite band or musician? – Universal Information Services, Inc.

The actual answer to this question isn’t the focus. The emphasis is the passion that the candidate responds with. If they can’t get passionate about a single band or song, how can they get passionate about their work?

  1. What have you done professionally that you succeeded at, but isn’t an experience you’d want to repeat? – HubSpot

The answer the candidate gives here will tell you a bit about how they work and even more about how they don’t work! This will tell you how they respond to adversity and succeeded in a bad situation.

In a blog, HubSpot ‘s VP of Global Customer Support Michael Redbord tells us how they classify the answers in 3 different ways, each of which can tell you something different about the candidate:

  1. Something menial (e.g. envelope-stuffing). Pay attention to whether they understand the value of this getting done for the business, or whether they just think they’re too good for a job like that.
  2. Something really hard. Why was it hard? Was it because it was poorly planned, poorly executed, or something else? Where do they put the blame on it being such an unpleasant experience?
  3. Something team-related. Follow up with questions about the team, what their role on the team was, and so on.
  4. If you were a pizza deliveryman how would you benefit from scissors? – Apple

If you’re hiring for a position that requires problem solving and creativity, this question will tell you if the candidate is right or not! This will show you how a candidate can innovate and improve processes, while making the best of the tools at their disposal!

  1. What is the funniest thing that has happened to you recently? – Applebee’s

If the role you’re hiring for involves communication this will let you know if the candidate can target their audience appropriately and be relatable. Even if you aren’t hiring for a role specifically requiring communication, this will give you a clue as to whether or not the candidate will be a good fit with the office culture. If you’re going to be spending 40 hours a week with this person, you should see if you can get along with them!

  1. If you were asked to unload a 747 full of jellybeans, what would you do? – Bose

The perfect question to ask a Project Manager. If they respond by asking about timelines, budgets and tools, you know they are right for the job! This shows how a candidate is able to chunk out problems and work their way towards solving the larger issue.

  1. How many people flew out of Chicago last year? – Redbox

Similar to the last question, this one tests a candidate’s analytical aptitude. The way that the candidate runs through the question will tell you whether they can solve a big problem logically without being overwhelmed. If they start talking about the number of runways and gates that’s a good sign! If they’re on about their last layover on the way to Florida, they may not be the right candidate.

What are your favourite, out of the box, questions to really get to know your candidates? Leave a comment below and let us know!