How To Assess Dark Personality Traits Of Your Potential Candidates

How To Assess Dark Personality Traits Of Your Potential Candidates

John works as a customer service representative at TTT Inc,  one of the major textile players in South Asia. One Monday morning, John happened to deal with an angry customer. John, usually known for his empathy and diplomatic personality lost his cool, got into a conflict with the customer. In the heated situation, John abused the customer and the latter escalated John’s behavior to his boss. 

Since TTT Inc believed in a ‘Customer-first’ attitude, John’s boss condemned his behavior and immediately offered a pink slip. 

Furious John, outraged by his Manager’s move breached the customer data of TTT Inc to its competitor.

How unethical is it?

John has been one of the High Potential employees throughout and the sudden twitch in his behavior raises the eyebrows of all his co-workers.

Why? John’s dark personality that was dormant so far, has come to notice of others.

The recruitment system failed to assess dark personality traits of John. 

What are dark personality traits?

Dark personality traits are those characteristics of an individual that prove to be counterproductive, destructive behavior and have a negative impact on the surrounding people.

Paulhus and Williams’ research formulated and grouped negative behavior into 3 basic types.


Narcissism is an inflated sense of self. Narcissists believe that they are superior person to others and require that people constantly recognize them for their superiority. They don’t just crave attention or work to earn praise, they expect this attention or praise, even if they don’t accomplish much.

People with high narcissism scores on the dark triad personality quiz usually display:

  • Self-centered thinking
  • A lack of consideration for other people
  • Viewed by others as “cocky”
  • Selfish
  • “The world revolves around them”
  • have a very exaggerated sense of self-importance
  • Truly believe they are superior
  • Expect social favors


Psychopaths have little empathy or consciousness. They can commit heinous crimes against others without feeling any remorse for what they have done. 

People with high psychopathy scores on the dark triad inventory usually display:

  • A lack of guilt or empathy
  • Very shallow experiences when dealing with others
  • Difficult to maintain relationships
  • Taking large risks
  • Usually paired with a trait of pathological lying
  • Sometimes quite charming
  • Sometimes very impulsive


Machiavellianism are master manipulators who know what to say and do to get their way.

People with high Machiavellianism scores on the dark triad test usually display the following:

  • Supremely focused on their own goals
  • Use Flattery as a means
  • Lie, cheat, and steal to get what they want
  • Prone to casual sexual situations
  • Socially different moral or ethics code
  • “Uses” others
  • Exploit others for their own ambitions
  • Might have issues finding and showing their own emotions
Assessing dark personality traits using psychometric tests
                              Dark Personality Prototypes Image Source:

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Interesting finding!

In a study by Victor Shiramizu and his colleagues, there seems to be a correlation between high scores and certain facial features. In fact, the study has been replicated a few times and each time participants can correctly identify high-narcissism male and female faces from a group of random faces more often than not. 

Participants were also able to pick out female faces that scored high on the psychopathy scale. 

They did note in the study that people are NOT good at discriminating against those with high or low Machiavellian scores. 

They found that “Together with our results suggest that male and female faces contain valid cues of narcissism, but do not necessarily contain valid cues of psychopathy or Machiavellianism.

What does this mean? It means if you’re very narcissistic on the dark triad personality test, someone can probably tell just by the way you look. 

How to assess dark personality traits from your potential employees?

How to assess dark personality traits from your potential employees?

1. Psychometric Tests

Standard psychometric tests assessing the traits of the candidates. With an overwhelmingly large number of psychometric test types, most of them boiled down to ipsative and normative psychometric tests.

Normative Psychometric tests are something this like:

Question: I keep my spirits up despite setbacks.

  1. Strongly Disagree
  2. Disagree
  3. Neutral
  4. Agree
  5. Strongly agree

Ipsative Psychometric tests, the forced-choice method, is something like this:

Question: I am the sort of person who… 

  1. prefers to keep active at work.
  2. establishes good compromises.
  3. appreciates literature.
  4. keeps my spirits up despite setbacks.

In normative psychometric tests, candidates are most likely to paint a positive picture of themselves. So, amongst the two, Ipsative is the most recommended form of psychometric test.

2. Situational Judgment Tests

At a marketing meeting with your supervisor and the senior marketing
manager, you find yourself in the midst of a conflict between them. You
know that the two do not get along professionally and that they are in
constant disagreement.

They are now arguing about strategies for a new campaign, and are asking
you to pick a side.

a) Spending too much time listening to the customer’s description of the problem.

b) Gently asking the customer to calm down so that you can help.

c) Suggesting that the customer speak to the manager

d) Promising to follow up on problem resolution

Job-based situational judgement assessments expose candidates to real life business situations wherein stress management, diplomacy and other job related soft skills are put to test.

3. Behavioral Interview Questions

Exposing candidates to tough behavioral interview questions, opens the room for interesting insights about their perspectives on aspects that matter in the everyday operation of businesses

  1. Describe a time situation you dealt with a person you did not like. How did you handle it?
  2. Tell me about a mistake you made at your previous workplace. How did you report it to your manager?
  3. What are your positive experiences and negative experiences at your previous organization?

Assessing the negative traits of candidates is hard. Here is why we need psychologists and psychometric specialists for creating structured and standardized assessments for assessing the negative personalities of the candidate.

Most employers and as well pre-hire testing providers ignore the part of assessing negative traits, at Xobin, we are taking this issue quite seriously and hence created Xobin Personality Inventory.

Want to know more about Xobin Personality Inventory?

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Also check-out: How Big4 Consulting hire top talent using Psychometric Testing