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How to NOT hire a psychopath at work: Strategies and tips

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A roomful of people discussing strategies to avoid hiring psychopaths.

Minimise bad hires by assessing key factors

How can you prevent hiring a psychopath and the challenges that come with realising you’ve recruited someone detrimental to your business?

We’ve extensively explored the factors driving counterproductive workplace behaviours, such as personality, intelligence, and values.

We also delved into the prevalence of these behaviours, noting differences across gender and age.

We’ve gained insights from examining the dark triad of psychopathic traits and considering nature versus nurture,

The optimal strategy to avoid hiring a psychopath is to quantify each of these aspects and aim for candidates scoring positively on most, if not all, of these vital criteria.

Strategies to avoid hiring psychopaths

Watch the video to understand how you can minimise the risk that you hire someone who is likely to engage in negative behaviours at work.

Watch the first video in this series here:

Part 1 – Have you hired a psychopath lately? Counterproductive work behaviours

And watch the previous video here:

Part 7 – What drives counterproductive workplace behaviours?

And if you know of anyone who would benefit from this video, please share it with them.

Video Transcript

How to NOT hire a psychopath

Hi, Andrew from SACS, and welcome to video number eight in our eight video sequence, on “Have you hired any psychopaths lately?”

In this sequence so far, we’ve dealt with a range of different issues.

We’ve talked about this thing called counterproductive work behaviours.

Which is really what we’re talking about when we are mentioning psychopathy because it results in negative behaviours called counterproductive work behaviours.

We’ve looked at how nature and nurture contribute to this.

We talked about the dark triad of psychopathy, narcissism and Machiavellianism.

And then we’ve looked at some psychological markers that indicate whether a person is likely to undertake these bad behaviours or not.

So this video is really a tying together, of everything that we’ve covered so far to give you some really practical advice about how not to hire psychopaths.

Cognitive ability

The first thing that we’re going to suggest is that you measure their cognitive ability.

Cognitive ability is shown, as I’ve indicated in earlier videos.

To be a predictor of negative behaviours.

The higher the cognitive ability, the less likely it is that you have negative behaviours.

Now, that’s the not the only driver.

But high cognitive ability does predict a lesser likelihood of negative behaviours.

Integrity testing

We’re also going to suggest that you use a counterproductive work behaviours assessment.

These are sometimes called integrity tests.

And they’re used widely across the world.

So for instance, in the United States of America, if you go work in retail.

Many big organisations will insist that you complete an integrity test.

Which is an overt assessment of asking you on paper, or in front of a screen.

Whether you have done these negative behaviours in the past.

So have you stolen things?

Or have you treated people badly at work?

Or any of those kinds of considerations.

Now, I mentioned in earlier videos, it’s remarkable that these things work.

Because clearly people are kind of divulging information that will damage their employment prospects.

But they do work.

And I explained that one of the reasons that they work is that people know more effectively when to lie when they’re getting visual cues from other people.

So in interviews, people are much more able to lie.

Because the faces of people cue them about when they should lie.

Now, if you’re sitting in front of a computer.

You don’t get those visual cues.

And that seems to be one of the reasons why people don’t fake as much.

Or as effectively as you should.

But you get 0.45 correlation between the result of a counterproductive work behaviour test, Integrity test as it’s sometimes known, and work performance.

And it can be very effective in screening out negative behaviours.

Which suggests that you test personality.

Personality traits

And we recommend the six factor model of personality.

The dominant model of personality to this very day is a thing called the five factor model of personality.

But the sixth factor is a thing called honesty-humility.

Sometimes known as integrity-modesty.

But honesty-humility is a characteristic which really suggests that people are honest, truthful, and not arrogant.

And this has been shown to correlate very heavily with negative behaviours like theft, harassment sexual harassment, bullying, those kinds of things.

So measure personality.

Now, the second thing that you might like to consider is emotionality.

Because when people are highly emotional people, that makes it more difficult for them to cope with work.

Doesn’t mean that it’s necessarily a knockout factor if they are emotional.

Because emotionality, in the form of the six factor model of personality is really not an aggression thing.

It’s more like a shrinking away.

It’s a vulnerability type of characteristic.

But if you’re going to put people into stressful jobs, it’s good to know their emotionality.

And perhaps there would be jobs that are less stressful that might be more suited to them.

We’re also suggesting that you look at agreeableness.

And in the HEXACO model of agreeableness, agreeableness means low anger.

Now, trait anger, in many studies has been shown to be associated with behaviours like bullying and harassment and aggression.

And so we are really recommending that you hire people who don’t have this aggressive angry character.

Which is very heavily genetically determined.


People who are highly conscientious tend to persist and tend to try hard and are much less likely to do bad things, particularly to an organisation.

So that’s a really useful thing to know.

And then extraversion.

We’re not suggesting that you hire extroverts.

But one of the things that you may look at, is that if people are low in integrity, modesty or honesty, humility.

And they’re low in conscientiousness.

If in addition they’re low in a thing called sociability.

Which means I like people.

Then that combination can be particularly powerful to suggest that a person’s likely to undertake negative behaviours.

Personal values

Finally, we’re going to suggest that you measure values.

These aren’t as crucial as personality or cognitive ability.

Because personality and cognitive ability are heavily genetically determined.

But, these values can suggest, people can learn ways of being more respectful of other people.

Learn to be more tolerant of other people.

Learn to respect rules more.

Those kinds of things.

And that can be a slight protector against the likelihood of negative behaviours, psychopathy type behaviours.

This is what a typical front page looks like, from one of our psychometric assessments.

You see that we have risk ratings here, for a range of different things.

So low risk for intelligence, that’s good.

High risk for honesty-humility.

That’s bad, because it means that the person is low in honesty-humility, which means that they’re likely to be arrogant and perhaps dishonest.

Personality, overall medium.

Values, a high risk there, which suggests that the person scores on two things in particular.

Conformity, which is about a person’s respect for rules.

Not just organisational rules, but social rules, is low.

And it may well also be that this person is a sort of a domineering person.

Now, and that’s a value which is to do with authority or power.

And we know that people who are low in rule respecting and more power hungry, those people tend to be more likely to do bad things.

And then we see that this person’s emotional intelligence is low.

And that may well give rise to thoughtless type behaviours.

Behaviours where the person doesn’t take the viewpoint of other people into account.

And may act unkindly towards them.

Attitudes towards diversity

And then you also see that these measures here.

These are what are known as attitudes towards diversity measures.

And the high risk for gender, means that this person is inclined to be somewhat sexist.

And high risk for ethnicity, suggests that the person is likely to be rather unkind to people from different ethnic backgrounds.

The gender, ethnicity, age, and disability questions are really what we call an integrity test.

Some people call it that.

We call it a counterproductive work behaviour test.

But it’s really asking questions about the person’s attitude towards gender, ethnicity, disability, and ageing.

So that’s what we have to say, about how not to hire psychopaths.

We hope that this improves your recruitment practise.

And we hope you are successful in your objectives of hiring people who will contribute positively to your corporate culture.

Thanks very much for watching.

Learn more about counterproductive workplace behaviours

Watch the first video in this series to find out more about dealing with psychopaths at work:

Part 1 – Have you hired a psychopath lately? Counterproductive work behaviours

And watch the previous video here:

Part 7 – What drives counterproductive workplace behaviours?

And if you’d like some help with reducing the chances that your next hire will be a psychopath, contact us about our Psychometric Testing tools.

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