Are You Hiring a Psychopath? 4 Warning Signs

Psychopaths are people that essentially don’t care about other people.

They typically only look out for their own interests, and may have no sense of empathy or remorse.

Some won’t even try to hide it. But others have learned how to act like “normal” people—and even how to make a great first impression in an interview.


How can you tell if you’re about to hire a psychopath?

Keep reading for 4 hidden clues that research has linked to psychopathy.



1. Pay attention to emotional expressions

Emotions can provide important clues.

You need to understand the distinction between primary and secondary psychopathy.


Secondary psychopaths develop antisocial behaviors and attitudes through learning and environment.

It’s usually a reaction to adverse or hostile experiences (including violence, abuse, or neglect).

Secondary psychopaths tend to be anxious and impulsive, and are prone to emotional outbursts. In other words, it’s usually pretty obvious.


Primary psychopaths were most likely born without a “normal” capacity for emotions.

They can only experience very limited or blunted emotions. Primary psychopaths learn to fake socially appropriate emotional expressions by copying other people, and they can be extremely convincing. You probably won’t be able to tell the difference.

Your best clue would be a lack of emotional response, at times when you really would have expected to see one.


2. Narcissism

Psychopaths tend to be more Narcissistic.

This can be a challenge to uncover during a job interview.

Everyone, Narcissist or not, is probably trying to convince you that they are the best in their field, and highly motivated to gain the status, prestige, and recognition that they deserve.


What you can look for—more specifically—is shameless Narcissism.

Shameless Narcissists don’t really acknowledge that their personality and behavior fluctuate. They tend to describe themselves in the exact same way, regardless of the day, the context, the situation, the other people involved.


3. Machiavellianism

Psychopaths tend to be more Machiavellian.

Again, this can be a challenge to uncover during a job interview.

If you do ask questions about morality at work, it’s pretty likely that people will just tell you whatever they think you want to hear.


What you can look for instead is a cynical attitude toward people.

Machiavellians tend to have a negative view of human nature and distrust of other people. This is often accompanied by a general perception that the world is a hostile and frightening place.


4. Greed

Psychopaths tend to be more greedy.

You probably are looking for some level of ambition in a job interview.

(Perhaps you even attracted more psychopaths by mentioning certain things in your job posting).

But even the most ambitious people will be happy and satisfied if they can reach their goals.


Greed, by definition, is never being satisfied. Greedy people will always want more.

This “always wanting more” attitude might sound great at first, but it’s really not.

Remember that setting far-reaching goals can actually promote greater risk-taking or be used to justify unethical behavior.


Greed doesn’t just make people take bigger risks. Greed also makes people less likely to learn from their mistakes.

When people make a mistake, there is usually an observable “oops!” response in the brain (called feedback-related negativity) that helps avoid repeating the same mistake in the future.

When greedy people are after something they want, they show a much weaker version of this response. And, of course, greedy psychopaths might not have this response at all.


Those are the warning signs

None of these signs can (or should) be used to make any sort of diagnosis on its own.

But if a person displays several of these signs, there’s a very good chance that you’re talking to a psychopath.




Image credits: Saul Saulete, Nicolas Nova

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