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Identifying Destructive Personalities in the Job Interview

Qualified management candidates are always looking for the right job, and it doesn’t matter what type of manager you are on the list below, there is a perfect job for you.  This article is designed to help management candidates who are applying for jobs. There are mistakes that you may make in a job interview which may cost you the job because the interviewer will peg you as the wrong type of leader.

To avoid personal opinions and bias in this article we cited https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/j.1467-8551.2009.00672.x to help keep the information clear.


Destructive leadership behavior, in management candidates, is defined as the repeated behavior of a leader, that disrupts the interest of the company by sabotaging the organization’s goals, and effectiveness, motivation, well-being or job satisfaction of their subordinates.

Psychology Dictionary: An expression of hostility, anger and aggression by destroying and damaging property or yourself.

It is this second definition that is the most damaging to a person’s career, and why sometimes it is not identified in the job interview. No one is self-destructive all the time. While it is quite common for an insecure person to sabotage their job interview, this differs from destructive behavior which includes ‘intent to harm’ others, and the organization.

Absentee Leaders

These are people in leadership roles who are psychologically absent. They had a strong desire to be a manager, and enjoy the privileges and rewards of leadership. But avoid engaging with their teams. These people are often highly organized. They look the part. They act the part. But there is something ‘off.’

In a job interview they will offer vague answers. They won’t use first names or talk about people. Their answers will focus on ‘end goals’ and not the journey.

It is difficult to catch them because in today’s interview we want the person to tell us about what they did, not what the team did. But there will be subtle hints.

If you ask questions about other people on the team, or if they like people, the answers will be quick and short. They may have a blank look on their face. You may also see them lean backwards or become stiff.

Destructive Managers

Cite: https://tu-dresden.de/mn/psychologie/lehrlern/ressourcen/dateien/lehre/lehramt/lehrveranstaltungen/Lehrer_Schueler_Interaktion_SS_2011/Lewin_1939_original.pdf?lang=en

These types of managers are identified by their destructive nature. They may be hard working and accomplish great things, but their toxic behavior destroys their team, undermines their successes.

In this case you want to be extra careful when you have a hard working over achiever in the job interview. Especially if they have never reached the top levels or received several good promotions in previous jobs. Also, if their previous employers promoted them out of ‘team’ focused leadership positions.

These people may have narcissistic personality disorder, or they may be carrying guilt/hurt that is bleeding into their workplace. Both of these scenarios will blame others. Their job interview will appear convincing because they are unable to comprehend their involvement in the failure. Emotionally their goals are sincere – success, caring for people, and even be nurturing. In reality, they are toxic, put down others to the point of causing personality disorders, and self-sabotaging.

When you are in a job interview look for ‘stories of grandeur’, ‘great things they did to save the day.’ If you are in a job interview and you can see the person in front of you as a fireman, racing in to the flames to save the day, or a police man, endangering their lives for the good of all, then you probably have a manager that fits into this category.


This behavior leads to violence in personal relationships. It can also cause problems in the workplace. Codependent behavior is an exchange of actions and reactions which becomes a controlling device between individuals.

There are several ways this can be hidden in the workplace.

We want a manager that works with people and delegates/mentors. We don’t want an individual who uses peers to get ‘their’ work done.

We want team work and engaged manages. We don’t want a manager who feels it is their responsibility to ‘save’ other people from their own stupidity/ignorance/bad habits etc.

The co-dependent becomes irate or resentful when things do not go their way, or they lose something they feel is theirs.

They have extreme energy and use it to solve other people’s problems.

They feel they are the victim of other person’s poor behavior

Makes other people feel guilty. They offer advice when it isn’t solicited. Their advice often feels like an insult or put down.

Expects to be perfect and may actually believe they are.

Where there is a codependent there is an enabler. The enabler is hurt by the co-dependent but they also receive emotional fulfillment at being the ‘only’ person who understands them, can help them, or knows how to be their assistant.

Identifying this management candidate is a little easier. There is a term ‘knock them off their pedestal.’ In the job interview there is still opportunity to make them feel uncomfortable. They take everything emotionally and will react to personal comments.

These are a few of the behaviors that can stall a management candidates career. They can be changed, and they can be managed. The main thing is to realize that hiring managers are on the look out for these behaviors. They don’t want them in the workplace, and there is no room for them in upper management and executive positions.

Self-awareness and growth is a part of every day living. We cannot control our past, but you can control your future. You can also control your career path but it takes effort, hard work, and shaping yourself into an effective and productive manager.


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