Should you hire a candidate who is arrogant?


I am hiring for software developer position.

Now I got this one guy who solved my C test well. But I find that hes a bit oversmart. I also got this other guy whosdid 80% correctly.

So, now I am confused if I should hire this oversmart guy.
I tend to think that people who think they know a lot sometimes tend to be rigid and put others down. Mine is a 10 person company so even one bad apple can have an adverse effect on the rest of the people.

What do you think I should do?

(Also, this guy asked the CTC for the post. Now I tend to be fearful of people whos only question is CTC, because they tend to jump ship with a little raise.)

Software Hiring

asked Sep 16 '11 at 19:29
126 points
  • If I may ask, what is a C test? What is CTC? – John 13 years ago
  • Choose the best for your team; NOT who does the best on your C test. Your C test is only one part of the overall test. – Jberger 13 years ago
  • @John. A C test is a technical test using the C language and CTC is obviously Cinnamon Toast Crunch ;-) – Steve Jones 13 years ago
  • You should be trying to hire people smarter than yourself and your current team. If you hire people who require help, direction and aren't technical enough it will be a huge pain. A's hire A's ... B's hire C's. – Ryan Doom 13 years ago
  • I agree about hiring people smarter than myself. But I am a small organisation and I have had instances where people just dont turn up to work on the 2nd of the month(after they encashed the salary check). And sometimes hiring very smart people can be a dumb move because they leave as soon as a bigger company hires them. – Ncm123 13 years ago
  • CTC Is cost to company. – Ncm123 13 years ago
  • So, you have a team so good it makes smarter people run away? I know those teams very well - you should get some A's then make sure to start getting your D level team up. – Net Tecture 13 years ago
  • How can you perform too well? – Susan Jones 13 years ago
  • Hey, I think the question title has been completely twisted by the editor. By oversmart, I mean a brash kind of person, not a person who is performing well. – Ncm123 13 years ago

11 Answers


Your team is small enough that you can arrange a meet & greet with both candidates, then ask your team afterwards who they'd prefer and why. Just a couple of beers after work would be fine. Nothing formal.

I've done this before, as part of my recruiting role for clients, and it generally works out well. Pay for it yourself if you don't have the budget.

answered Sep 17 '11 at 00:53
Steve Jones
3,239 points
  • I agree that I should meet with both candidates again. – Ncm123 13 years ago


Great question! When I owned my own business, I struggled for years trying to figure out the best person to hire and fire.

From my experience, over the long haul, it doesn't matter how smart someone is or how much work they get done if they aren't a team player. If they aren't all about the team and doing their best to be on the winning team and making everyone feel like a winner, you're bound to lose.

But, when you have two qualified candidates, generally the lesser qualified candidate will work for less money, will stay longer, and be happier. The more qualified candidate will be frustrated sooner, expect more money sooner, and get arrogant sooner if he's not promoted.

I would rather hire someone that is qualified and 80% ready than anyone who is overqualified.

Let it be stated that I hope to never have a job where I need to make decisions like that again. It's not my forte. Currently, I just want to be a team player on a winning team. No more; no less.

Good luck!

answered Sep 21 '11 at 03:10
Evik James
281 points
  • thumbs up! great answer. – Ncm123 13 years ago


It's good to have smart people in the team and as you mentioned the 2nd guy did 80% so he is smart and one more reason of his smartness that you are considering him also for a job. As about over smart guy, it's good to have one in a team but if he is committed and complement others and their work and you also said that your team is consist of 10 people so you might already have one or two over smart guy.

And one thing to find about both guys how they gonna be an asset to your team, ask them to a sign at least a year contract and see how they react, as a result you will get to know their intentions about long term relationship with you and your team. And also take a presentation from both guys so about how can they contribute to your team and be an asset, and in this presentation also involve your other team members so you can also have their opinion too. It's a time consuming activity but you have to do it a right for the team.

answered Sep 16 '11 at 23:47
Safran Ali
272 points
  • As an employee, I never liked the idea of firms asking to sign a contract or bond. This more or less showed their insecurity about not being able to retain someone. – Pravin Cg 13 years ago


I am missing a logic leap somewhere. You said he was supersmart. And then you disclosed your feeling that people who think they know a lot sometimes tend to be rigid and put other down. Umm. . . . ?

Do you know if he "thinks he knows a lot", do you know if he sometimes tends to be rigid? Do you know if he tends to put others down? there are a couple jumps here which lead me to believe for whatever reason you are not comfortable with the candidate that aced your C-test.

That is okay. You don't need to hire anyone or any specific person -- it is your team and you need to be comfortable with the people that you hire.

There are of course legal issues about hiring discrimination -- but super smart people are not currently a protected class.

When you are open to it, it might be worth reflecting on your assumptions about smart people, about people who think or know they are smart, and your experience of what you experience to be rigidity, or your experience of them putting people down. How will these preconceived notions help you as you move forward in the development of the teams your startup need? Will they be helpful?

Or will they limit the pool of talent resources available to growing your business?

answered Sep 17 '11 at 05:50
Joseph Barisonzi
12,141 points
  • i dont mean super smart?By oversmart, I meant a person who thinks too much of his/her abilities and tends to give out a feeling that he/she knows everything. – Ncm123 13 years ago


I'm not sure what you suggest by oversmart, but I'll assume we're talking intelligence here. Hiring someone with higher IQ than what the job itself requires is just as bad as hiring someone with a lower IQ. Positive psychology has a lot of experiments and studies on this subject, and there seems to be a consensus that the "right person for the right job" approach wins. Hands down.

While somebody who isn't capable of fulfilling the needs of their scope of activities is an obvious no, for some strange reason the market still doesn't treat the ones above the requirement as a serious problem. It should. The reason, simply put, is they are going to be bored, understimulated and unmotivated for sure.

I'd say, it's even better to hire someone slightly below the expectations than somebody obviously above them. They tend to work hard to fit, and they always have a personal mid-term goal in mind. So as for the motivation, the 80% guy is a wiser decision.

answered Sep 21 '11 at 21:24
21 points


What tasks/level are you hiring for? If you need a real brain who's going to be challenged by difficult tasks and feel important for being tasked to projects that require horsepower, then they might perform quite well. But if you need a base level of proficiency, and the quality of 'invention' isn't as important as fitting in the team, then go with the more stable, reliable persona.

answered Sep 17 '11 at 00:55
840 points
  • I think you have nailed it. People tend to say hire a person smarter than you. But I think this should be decided based on the position we are hiring for. – Ncm123 13 years ago
  • thanks. I've noticed that curiosity and initiative can also go a looooong way, too. – Nicko 13 years ago


I'm a contractor and have interviewed a lot of software developers for one of my clients. And the one thing I'm proud of, is every developer that I've recommended (and we've hired) is a better developer than I am.

Partly, you could say I'm doing myself out of a job. But I don't ever want to be one of those 'only hirer B-players' (assuming I'm an A-player in the first instance).

That said, there's something amazing when you work with brilliant people. These guys live and breath code and it makes it a fun and challenging team to work with. But each of these guys is a real team player, and I think that is probably the most important characteristic of all.

Hire people who are Smart and get things done. But also hire for fit. Hire the best people who fit with your team. Period.

answered Sep 23 '11 at 03:30
159 points


I will not add more details but just one thought.

Hire only those who you find are better than you because only then you and your company can grow. Also remember that genius and extra ordinary people only can do extra ordinary things. So if you have to pay, then why not pay the right guy who is smart or even oversmart. Either consider the benefits of your company and business or respect your doubts and fears. Choise is yours..!!

answered Sep 23 '11 at 03:51
Usman Sarfraz
1,326 points


I believe that you need to base your decision more than just a C Test, which I think you are. I like the idea of using nailing him down with a contract. If he is committed to the company, then he should not be scared to agree to the contact either.

I don't think it shows any insecurity on the company's part on retaining employees. The contract would also show that your company is also committed to the new hire as well. It works both way.

answered Sep 21 '11 at 20:30
144 points


Hire the smartest person, unless you don't think that you can work well with him/her.

"I tend to think that people who think they know a lot sometimes tend to be rigid and put others down."

Also be sure that the person wants to work for YOU. Nothing worse than having a boss who has a jaundiced view of an employee.

answered Sep 22 '11 at 09:01
1,747 points


Although an answer have been chosen already, As someone who was once kicked out of a startup, I think I am able to offer some insights. In my opinion, there are generally 2 types of bosses.

Type 1 boss:

Some startup boss just cannot stand people pointing out what is terribly wrong to them. Their ego will be hurt, and they will find tons of irrational reasons to justify why his decision is correct even if time has proven them wrong. If you are such a boss, it may be better for your sanity to hire the less smart guy or the 'YES' man while also hoping that you are an incredibly smart guy yourself.

Type 2 boss:

However if you are a boss who accepts being challenged, open to opinions and want to build up a culture of people constantly challenging themselves. Then hiring the smart guy is worth a try and see if it could improve the culture in your company of people challenging themselves than just simply get things done. However do note that the type 1 boss I mentioned tend to view themselves as type 2 boss (after all, it sounds nicer).

By no means is type 2 boss superior than type 1. It's possible for both type of bosses to lead their startup to earning money. The difference is about the who you work with better.

Note: I'm kicked by a type 1 boss (an ex close friend too) and now working for a type 2 boss happily for close to a year. So I may be a rather bias in my post. I'm not a smart person but someone who love challenges.

answered Jan 11 '12 at 20:53
111 points

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