Re-thinking Recruitment: Applying Science to the Practical World

Written By 63770782 - June 19 2014


Robert Johnson
March 20 2015

Best article that I have yet read on the costs of recruiting/hiring the right person for an open position within a company.

Dexter Davies Smith
March 20 2015

Thank you very much Robert, great to get positive feedback

Dexter Davies Smith
March 20 2015

Hi Clive,

Thanks for the reply and introducing a fantastic topic – psychopathology! It’s a really is fascinating disorder and I’m aware you’re somewhat of an expert on this topic so it is amazing to have the chance to reply to you on it.

Recruiting a psychopath is really the worst case scenario for an organisation. Whilst hiring someone who goes on to be an under-performer for one reason or another is costly, that is nothing compared to the influence a psychopath will have. Reading the chapter “White-Collar psychopaths” in Robert Hare’s book Without Conscience is a scary insight to the environment they create.

With regards to the domain of recruitment – I guess the difficulty would be recognising a candidate is a psychopath or has a psychopathic dispositions.

The second part of this series has been added in which we look at why interviews are flawed as a process due to poor human judgment – Psychopaths are masters at manipulation so are likely to thrive in interviews compared to someone who may be a fantastic employee but is nervous in intense social interactions like interviews.

The only filtering process I can think of that companies can use in the recruitment process to identify psychopaths would be brain imaging techniques and hiring James Fallon to interrupt them – however there may be slight legal, ethical, practical and monetary issues with this!!

Anyway, I’ve jabbered on enough! I do have two questions you may be able to help with, I’ve always wondered if psychopaths have stable personalities that can be measured with a big-five personality questionnaire or if their personality would be a less stable construct? And would psychopaths have a tendency to score highly on any dimensions, i.e. neuroticism ?

Clive Boddy
March 20 2015

I couldn’t agree more that recruitment needs to be taken more seriously and treated less superficially. One reason for this is that the cost of recruiting a dysfunctional manager such as a corporate psychopath (psychopaths appear to make up about 1% of the population but 3.5% of senior managers) is enormous. In research by UK academics it has been found that the appointment of a corporate psychopath starts to influence organisational events within weeks of their start date. Organisational culture becomes fraught with conflict and bullying, turnover increases dramatically as everyone who can leave the psychopathic environment does leave and the division or organisation affected loses its drive and ambition as the aims of the psychopath come to supersede those of the organisation they supposedly work for. Put the term “corporate psychopaths” into an on-line search engine and see for yourselves.

Rhys Pugh-Holmes
March 20 2015

A good well rounded look at recruitment – looking forward to Part Two

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