The 5 Personality Traits to Look For in a Candidate

Hiring the right candidates for the business is critical. The wrong hire could end up being a waste of time that only causes more issues further along the way. The cost and time it takes to recruit employees, depending on the role advertised, can have a significant impact on business operations. Suffice to say, you want to get it right the first time.

Whilst it may be important to recruit an individual who can do the job on paper, their personality can be a big influence on how well they do in the role. Ultimately, you want a candidate who understands the job they’re doing but also fits into the dynamic of the company itself.

In this article, we’ll explore the five personality traits you should be looking for in your future candidates and the importance of hiring the right individuals for your business. There’s also an extra bonus section that will help guide you in making the right choices for your future hires.

Personality Traits to Look For in a Candidate

Why the right hire is essential for your business

Hiring for a new or existing role isn’t as simple as just putting up the job advert and waiting for the candidates to come to you. A certain amount of marketing and advertising is required to bring in the top talent. There are many reasons why picking the right hire first time is important for business.

It saves time

When you’ve hired the right person for the job, it requires less time for existing employees to do the relevant training or to oversee the new person’s progress in the business.

Hiring someone capable of doing the job from day one is going to help save a lot of agro and lost working hours as a result.

Lower turnovers mean fewer costs

High turnover rates for staff can be typical for seasonal work and exceptions in some industries. However, in general, lower turnover of staff should be what you aim for when it comes to running a business.

On average, a workforce can experience an 18% turnover each year. This is an average that’s worth getting close to where you can.

Better company dynamics

The company dynamic is one that should be a positive one but not every person out there is going to fit into the mold. Whilst some accommodations need to be made to make new staff feel welcomed, the right fit will help better company dynamics in general.

With 84% of recruiters reporting culture fit becoming a key factor when hiring, according to a study, it’s important that you choose someone both for their talent AND their personality.

The big five personality traits and why they’re important

A theory developed by D.W. Fiske in 1949, suggested that there were five main personality traits that make up a person’s character and behavior. These five personality traits are worth knowing and understanding when it comes to hiring fresh talent.

The reason for doing so is to help identify the best mix of the five traits. It’s also helpful for existing staff members to be working in the company of those that aren’t extremely irritable or over-assertive, for example.

When assessing candidates, you may wish to do pre-employment tests that can help discover the personality of a candidate. For example, you can get templates for the Big 5 (OCEAN) personality test here, which are helpful when assessing personality traits.

Let’s break down the big five personality traits and what to look for when interviewing potential candidates.

  1. Openness

The first personality trait, openness, is one that shows a willingness to imagine and an eagerness for insight. When there’s a desire to learn something new or to be inspired by something they’d not thought about before, that can make for a great employee trait.

Creativity sits under the umbrella of this personality trait and tends to be that the individual has more than just one interest. In fact, they’re more likely to have a whole heap of interests.

A high openness trait is a good thing to have when it comes to hiring new talent, especially if certain departments may be lacking in this area of character. Low openness can often struggle to move beyond the traditional or the norm they operate in at work.

  1. Extraversion

A trait that often many will easily identify with and that’s the energy you get when surrounded by others. There are some of us that are introverted, meaning we don’t typically like to be in the presence of others for too long, much preferring that of our own company. Extroverts will typically thrive on company and hate the thought of being alone.

This sort of trait, particularly for those who are extroverts, will mean they’re more talkative and often assertive to an extent in their behavior.

Seeking a good balance of the two can be helpful when recruiting but it can be an exception when the role demands an overly extrovert individual. In a role that requires a lot of talking, it’s not typically a suitable fit for someone who is fairly introverted in their character.

  1. Conscientiousness

Conscientiousness is one trait that often means that an individual has impulse control and a level of thoughtfulness that can be extremely helpful for some career prospects. There’s a lot of organization and structure in this person’s life typically if they have high levels of this personality trait.

A highly conscientious individual will likely plan ahead and be a great individual for managing teams or being in a supervisor role. Someone who regularly stays in contact and checks their list twice – perhaps even a third time!

Low levels of conscientiousness will tend to dislike the idea of having structure or schedules, perhaps procrastinating a lot. This is a worthwhile trait to look out for, especially as it can be counterproductive for businesses to have employees who are putting in minimal effort.

  1. Agreeableness

Agreeableness is one of the more important traits because it refers to how trustworthy the individual is, how affectionate and kind they can be to others around them.

With a high level of agreeableness, you’ve got individuals who are more than likely to help others out without being forced to do so.

This personality trait in high volumes makes for a relatable individual that would tend to do well in an HR role, as an example. Empathy towards others is not always something that everyone has a lot of but with this personality trait, it’s one that’s commonly possessed.

The opposite to this trait is one that you want to try and avoid at all costs. Character behaviors like nastiness and manipulation are often under this personality trait and a lack of care or sympathy isn’t a good mix in the workplace.

  1. Neuroticism

Neuroticism is a physical and emotional reaction to something that we all feel – stress. It’s also the notion that your life is feeling threatened somehow. The characterization of this personality trait is one of sadness and emotional instability.

It’s important to cater to this one carefully as no one can help how they cope with stress and at the end of the day, we’re only human.

However, there are some character traits within this personality trait that are worth acknowledging. Those with high levels of neuroticism tend to experience a lot of anxiety and mood swings that could influence their day-to-day life.

Those that rank lower in this personality trait tend to be more emotionally stable and can often handle a lot more on their plate than most.

How to make the right choices when hiring

The choices made when making new hires is an important one that needs to be done carefully. It’s easy enough to pick out the best from a bad bunch or to not prepare the interview process enough to discover which candidate is best.

Pay attention to the personality of the candidate and when it comes to the interview, don’t be afraid to ask personality-related questions. This can help the candidate open up more, particularly when talking about themselves.

Think about the role you’re recruiting for and what you may be looking for within your business. The role may ask more levels of one personality trait than another, depending on the job itself.

Where possible, get a second opinion. It’s always good to involve existing staff members during the interview process, especially towards the beginning and end. Recruitment can be a great opportunity to collaborate with others, especially when assessing the personality traits of the candidates themselves.

If you’re hiring for business in 2022, pay close attention to personality traits of candidates as they can be telling on how well they’ll fit into the business. It’s not just about fulfilling the role but becoming part of the team. They’re a cog within the organization and despite whether or not they’re a receptionist or an executive-level employee, each one is just important as the next.

Francis Nwokike

Francis Nwokike is a Social Entrepreneur and an experienced Disaster Manager. I love discussing new business trends and marketing tips. I share ideas and tips that will help you grow your business.

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