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What Personality Trait Do Employers Value Most?

While most employers evaluate job candidates on their skills and experience, many companies are increasingly using personality measures to determine whether a candidate is a good fit. According to a survey from the Society for Human Resource Management, nearly 20% of employers say they use some type of personality test as part of the hiring process.

Conscientiousness rules

In a new study published in the journal Perspectives in Psychological Science, psychologists Paul R. Sackett and Philip T. Walmsley of the University of Minnesota analyzed several large data sets of hiring and job performance information to find out which personality attributes companies value most.

Sackett and Walmsley used a well-established model for measuring personality, known as the Big Five, as the theoretical basis for their study. In the Big Five model, an individual’s personality can be described using measures of five personality traits: conscientiousness, agreeableness, emotional stability, extraversion, and openness to experience.

Much of the data came from an analysis of structured job interviews, in which employers assess candidates for particular personality traits in order to make sure they’re a good fit for the job and overall work environment. For example, a company hiring a salesperson would want to assess job candidates for the traits of extraversion and friendliness to make sure they’re likely to work well with customers.

After examining the numbers, Sackett and Walmsley found that conscientiousness was by far the most highly sought after personality attribute for job applicants. Agreeableness was runner up.

What is conscientiousness?

As the name implies, someone with a conscientiousness style wants to work conscientiously within existing circumstances to ensure quality and accuracy. This person values expertise, competency, and objective reasoning.

  • Traits: independent, analytical, careful/cautious, systematic, diplomatic, and tactful
  • Behaviors: maintains stability, wants details, challenges assumptions, fears criticism and being wrong
  • Leadership style: Deliberate, humble, resolute

Can you assess conscientiousness?

The conscientiousness of job applicants is often assessed using focused interviews or personality assessments. But how do you get started? What type of assessment do you use? How do you use it? How do you analyze the data collected? Learn more in this article: When it comes to assessments, it’s all about how you use them.

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