Recruitment: notes learned from Snakes in Suits by Psychologists Babiat & Hare

As a recruiter, I battled to understand how from time to time I misread an individual completely. I kept fastidious records and began looking for trends. At this time, I looked at the leadership within the organisation. Looking at where there was a steady turnover of staff, low levels of engagement, poor attendance and high levels of disciplinary and grievance issues.

There was a consistent style of leadership and leader. A colleague recommended I read Snakes in Suits. The book linked all the dots. What follows is a brief synopsis.

The authors suggest recruiters look for the following traits which suggest they may be recruiting a sociopath at best or a psychopath at worst.

Some traits include

The fact that they appear affable displaying a superficial charm.

They are insincere and rarely display any form of empathy or sympathy for others.

Their brains simply lack the circuitry to process such emotions.

This allows them to betray people, threaten people or harm people without giving it a second thought.

They pursue any action that serves their own self-interest even if it seriously harms others.

They are delusional lacking a clear understanding of the world around them and their relation to it.

They have a distorted image of their ability often claiming to have skills that they don’t, their CVs are rarely a true reflection of who they are and what they have achieved.

They wildly exaggerate things to the point of absurdity, but when they describe it to you in a storytelling format, for some reason it sounds believable at the time.

They are unreliable and totally self-absorbed, if it doesn’t suit them it doesn’t happen. They have a tendency to distort the truth to suit their own cause and make themselves look good at the expense of others.

They will spread lies and rumors about others in order to make themselves appear better and to manipulate the people they want to control.

There is a complete lack of any remorse, guilt and shame.

They are never wrong. NEVER. If they are unable to distort or obscure the facts they respond in one of two ways: blame others for their misfortune or play a victim card. The facts are never addressed.

Sociopaths are delusional and literally believe that what they say becomes truthmerely because they say it!

They possess poor judgment when assessing individuals, trusting them implicitly only to be deceived.

They have no ability to think strategically and make no long term plans. They treat their money similarly.

They fail to learn by experience, their inability to accept responsibility when something goes wrong means they never believe they have to learn from a mistake – they simply never make them – even when driving.

They are never wrong. They never feel guilt. They can never apologize. Even if shown proof that they were wrong, they will refuse to apologize and instead go on the attack.

Sociopaths never apologize, they cannot bring themselves to say the words, “I am sorry”, and don’t see the need to as they are never wrong.


Unresponsiveness in general interpersonal relations, they have few friends as their ability to communicate and show emotions is absent. There is often a disregard for laws and social mores, anyone in authority from teachers and referees to politicians are viewed with suspicion.

They possess an equal disregard for the rights of others and will simply ignore the fact that their actions might impact negatively on someone else, even those close to them.

They hate to lose any argument or fight and will viciously defend their web of lies, even to the point of logical absurdity. They cannot distinguish between their opinion and the truth. Their opinion is the truth and they will argue as such.

Sociopaths are incapable of loveand are entirely self-serving. They may feign love or compassion calling others dear, darling and honey, complimenting them in order to get what they want, but they don’t actually FEEL love in the way that you or I do.

Sociopaths are masters are presenting themselves as heroes with high morals and philosophy, yet underneath it they are the true criminal minds in society who steal, undermine, deceive, and often incite emotional chaos among families, the workplace and even entire communities. They are masters at turning one group of people against another group while proclaiming themselves to be the one true savior. Wherever they go, they create strife, argument and hatred, yet they utterly fail to see their own role in creating it. They are delusional at so many levels that their brains defy logical reasoning.
You cannot reason with a sociopath.Attempting to do so only wastes your time and annoys the sociopath.

Tips when interviewing sociopaths:

One simple method for dispelling sociopathic delusion is to start fact checking their claims. Do any of their claims actually check out? If you start digging, you will usually find a pattern of frequent inconsistencies. Confront the suspected sociopath with an inconsistency and see what happens: Most sociopaths will become angry or aggressive when their integrity is questioned, whereas a sane person would simply be happy to help clear up any misinformation or misunderstanding.

Beware of fact-checking the sociopath by asking other people under his or her influence. A sociopath will usually have a small group of followers, even family members, who not only believe their fictional tales, but who actually internalize those fictionsto the point where they rewrite their own memories to be consistent with them. If a sociopath talks about his rugby career over and over again, some of his believers will sooner or later start to form false memories. So if you ask those people, “Did you actually ever see this person play rugby?” They will enthusiastically say, “Yes!” Because in their own minds, that illusion has become something indistinguishable from a vivid memory.

Another very valuable red flag to recognize when trying to spot a sociopath is to see how they deal with attacks on their own integrity. If a sociopath is presented with a collection of facts, documents and evidence showing that he lied or deceived, he will refuse to address the evidence and, instead, attack the messenger!

If you really try to nail a sociopath down to answering a documented allegation, they will quickly turn on you, denounce you, and declare that you too are secretly plotting against them. Anyone who does not fall for the brainwashing of the sociopath is sooner or later kicked out of the circle and then wildly disparaged by the remaining members of his/her group.

Once you are able to detect these traits in an individual, you are better able to avoid the trap of recruiting them. Even better to avoid them at all costs. If you are to work with them on some project you are at least armed to protect yourself.

Have a look at any number of state or corporate failures in recent years and see if you can determine some of the traits displayed by those implicated.