So, you applied to a great job and got a call from the recruiter. Thirty minutes later, you nailed the phone screen and he's setting up an in-person interview with the hiring manager. You're a huge fan of the company and have high hopes for the job. Until...
How Nice Is Too Nice?
You arrive 15 minutes early and the receptionist tells you the hiring manager is running late. Forty minutes later, she finally strolls out to get you. No apology, but she's all smiles and gushes about your outfit. She ushers you to her office and the interview begins. She's full of compliments. Every answer you give is met with praise. She uses the word "love" multiple times, "I love that answer!" and, "I love how you handled that situation at your old employer. That's EXACTLY what I need here." The interview continues and the hiring manager is treating you like a long lost friend. When it's your turn to ask questions, she says she's blown away by your preparedness. You leave the interview convinced the job is yours. She practically said it was. That's when you should start to worry. Here's why...
Don't Get Seduced By Happy Language
According to studies of narcissists, a good way to spot one is to evaluate their choice of words. It's important to watch for both extremely positive and extremely negative words, about you or others.
"Extremely positive (seductive) words include: I love you, you're so wonderful! I've never met someone as great as you are! You're so much better than all the others. You're the center of my life! I will give you everything you deserve. No one has treated you as good as I will treat you. The person you were with before was a real loser. I have this great idea that will make me really famous someday. Let me tell you about it. (Notice that much of this is very comparative--that's a warning sign that you will compare negatively later on.)"
In short, studies of narcissists show anyone that nice has the ability to swing to the other extreme - and, likely will.
The Best Managers Use Their Ears More Than Their Mouths in Job Interviews
The best way to tell if a hiring manager will be good to work for is to consider how much he or she listened in the interview. Did they need to monopolize the conversation? Or, did they sit back and give you plenty of time to answer their questions. A good interview should feel like a meaningful conversation, full of two-way dialog that digs into the job requirements and how you can best serve the hiring manager's needs. Be wary of any job interview that feels light in discussion around your capacity to do the work. If you feel like you didn't talk enough about your skills and abilities, you should be concerned. Especially, if the conversation was driven (and centered!) around the hiring manager. Ask anyone who has ever worked for a narcissist and they'll tell you it's not worth it!