Employees · Recruiting

Does it really pay to hire jerks at startups?

Deepakshi Khanna UAT Tester- Koodo

Last updated on March 21st, 2017

I just read this study from the National Bureau of Economic Research here in the U.S. Granted they studied truckers, which may not be relevant to what most of us are doing, but the findings say that workers who have overconfidence in their abilities substantially increase their firms’ profits. That surprises me, because having worked at at four startups, I have found that modest individuals fare better and help the company more than overconfident workers. I find them to be more flexible and adaptable to the team’s mission. What has your experience been?

Dane Madsen Organizational and Operational Strategy Consultant

March 20th, 2017

What causes you to equate overconfidence with being a "jerk"? You may be confusing bravado with bloviation. It takes a special personality to get up each morning and call people they do not know and sell them things they may not yet want. There are plenty of examples of "jerks" not being overconfident; just jerks. You also may have answered your question in the disconnect between your data and your application.

Sedef Onder Managing Partner + Strategist, Clear Inc.

March 20th, 2017

Something tells me that jerks aren't being hired because they're jerks, but that in some cases, its jerks who are making the hires. So we should draw our own conclusions from that.

Gabor Nagy Founder / Chief architect at Skyline Robotics

March 20th, 2017

Sounds, like the study was paid for by the IAOJ. (International Association of Jerks).

It may be a bit biased.


Ron Warshawsky Founder and CEO of Enteros. Years of successful experience in startup business and database technology.

Last updated on March 20th, 2017

Attitude in many cases beats IQ, so if you have a talented jerk, but he "means well", it is a good risk to get one. The risk is that at some future point, during the the company growth phase, he could be rejected by the team and you would have to deal with handling toxic situation.