The results from a wide variety of well-designed research studies have shown very strong evidence that personality affects job performance and that the links between personality traits and job performance are even stronger than previously thought.* This will come as no surprise to people who recruit, interview, make hiring decisions and train employees. Hiring managers routinely ask questions related to working independently, working with a team, getting along with others, being dependable, being motivated, and being able to deal with stress. These characteristics are all related to adult personality traits and can be measured by well-constructed personality inventories.
Personality inventories also enhance fairness in the hiring process because the differences between majority and minority candidates (sometimes found on other types of tests) are not seen with personality measures, and minority groups perceive personality inventories as more “fair” than other types of tests.
Personality traits are long-term and enduring patterns of behavior that are stable over time, and in a wide range of settings. Of course people can learn new skills and patterns of behavior, so personality is not destiny. However, it is related to our behavior at work and it can be seen at play in our career choices. Personality traits have been clearly shown to predict behavior on the job. There is now a consensus that personality can be accurately represented by five major traits. They are the hard-wiring of personality. This is called the Five Factor Theory. These Big Five personality dimensions are described as follows:
Extraversion reflects such behaviors as being sociable, gregarious, assertive, talkative, persuasive, spontaneous, and driven.
Emotional Reactivity includes such characteristics as security versus anxiety, happiness versus depression, calmness versus anger, restraint versus impulsivity, and patience versus impatience.
Behavioral Control is related to general conscientiousness and is represented by characteristics such as being careful, thorough, responsible, traditional, conforming, procedural, organized, planful, and detail-oriented.
Agreeableness consists of traits such as being courteous, flexible, good-natured, easygoing, cooperative, forgiving, and soft-hearted.
Complexity is associated with characteristics such as being imaginative, innovative, broadminded, analytical, and open to new ideas, facts and data.
There is no “right” personality. There are potential strengths and liabilities associated with extreme high or low scores on any trait. Personality assessment has no right or wrong answers. The challenge is to understand personality and its most likely expression on the job, and to use that knowledge in the most effective and helpful way to select and develop people who will help build the culture you want in your organization.
From the earliest scientific studies to the most recent findings, there is consistent and widespread support for the use of personality measures as helpful components of employee selection and development/coaching. Well-constructed personality inventories have been shown to be valid, fair and consistent predictors of success in a wide range of jobs across a broad cross-section of employment settings. Call us (404-237-6808) to find out how adding a valid personality assessment to your selection process can help you select people who will be successful in your culture, and how it can help you develop and coach your employees to greater effectiveness.
* A more detailed version of the above article, and a complete list of references to support it, can be found in the eTest Technical Manual. Call for more information.