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What Are the Big Five Personality Traits?

An idea to identify five major personality traits that constitute human personality and often influence people’s performance at work originated from a simple observation that people’s reactions to events are not identical. People tend to respond differently to what is going on with them or other people, or to what is happening in their environment or in the world, at large. Having observed this truism, psychologists decided to determine broad domains which define human personality and account for individual differences. After a thorough research, based on empirical data, they concluded that there are five of such domains, abbreviated as OCEAN:

  • Openness
  • Conscientiousness
  • Extroversion
  • Agreeableness
  • Neurotic-ism

Since then, these domains have been referred as the “Big Five Personality Traits.” Utilising their findings for practical purposes, psychologists also created sophisticated personality tests designed to determine people’s Big Five personality type. Thanks to their exactness, these tests have long become very popular among employers who use them to facilitate recruitment processes and refine their selection of job candidates. A low or high score on each of these traits studied by the Big Five Personality Test allows employers to understand job candidates’ behaviour more accurately and, in so doing, avoid hiring unsuitable people.


Breaking Down the Big Five Personality Traits

The five broad categories of which human personality is roughly composed, the so-called OCEAN, are easy to understand. They are largely self-explanatory:

Openness

This trait is possessed in large measure by people who enjoy new experiences and have thirst for knowledge. These people are open-minded, curious, and unafraid to challenge authorities. People scoring low on the trait of openness, in contrast, do not search for new experiences, dislike changes, and would rather prefer following a routine and their well-established rules of living. These people are also more practical and analytical than those who receive a high score on the trait of openness. Like other four traits, the openness trait is divided into six sub traits. They are as follows:

  • Liberalism
  • Artistic Interests
  • Intellect
  • Imagination
  • Adventurousness
  • Emotionalism

Although employers do not look for openness in their prospective candidates for all positions, this trait is still highly appreciated in many roles, especially in those that require creative thinking and flexible attitude. Artistic occupations and advertising and research positions require employees possess a large degree of openness. People who do not score high on the test on this trait are better suited to perform tasks demanding close attention to details and methodical thinking.

Conscientiousness

This trait indicates how disciplined and organised the person is. People scoring high on this trait on the Big Five Test are usually highly reliable and responsible. They are methodical and decisive, and thorough in their approach to given tasks. They also excel at formulating long-time goals, planning ways to achieve them, and working diligently toward fulfilling these plans. There is also a negative side to conscientiousness. Sedulous employees can also possess such less pleasant traits as perfectionism and inflexibility. They can be compulsive workaholics and overachievers.  Like other traits analysed by the Big Five Personality Trait, conscientiousness has several sub traits. They are the following ones:

  • Orderliness
  • Self-efficacy
  • Dutifulness
  • Cautiousness
  • Self-discipline
  • Concentration on achievements

Despite its negative implications, conscientiousness is highly valued in employees by recruiters. Employers prefer hiring conscientious applicants, because they are dependable and organised. Able to accomplish goals at work, diligent employees are needed in every occupation. Therefore, they are often preferred over job candidates who score low on the trait of conscientiousness.

Extroversion

Extroversion shows how social and outgoing job applicants are. Extroverts are energised by people with whom they interact; introverts, by contrast, find strength in themselves. Extroversion is also manifested in a person’s assertiveness, talkativeness, and general excitement about the external world. Applicants who do not share such enthusiasm for social gathering and activities, tend to score low on the trait of extroversion. Introverts have a tendency to keep to themselves and usually function productively without external stimulation. Like all other traits assessed on the Big Five Personality Test, extroversion is divided into sub traits, which can be analyses independently of each other:

  • Assertiveness
  • Gregariousness
  • Cheerfulness
  • Excitement seeking
  • Friendliness

It goes without saying that different work positions require a different degree of extroversion. Extrovert employers are needed at jobs involving intense and frequent interaction with people. Among these occupations are teaching, selling, and public relations. Jobs where tasks are carried out by teams are also performed better by extroverts. Introverts excel at jobs done independently of other co-workers.  

Agreeableness

This trait shows how tactful, warm, and friendly applicants are. Their ability to empathise and cooperate with others is also a part of the dimension of agreeableness, just as such qualities as kindness and affection. People who show on the test a high degree of agreeableness usually have an optimistic outlook on life and build friendly and harmonious relationships with others. They are convinced that humans are essentially good and can be trusted. People scoring low on this trait may come across as uncooperative and standoffish. They may also be egocentric and refuse to put other people’s interests above their own. The trait of agreeableness is divided into the following sub traits:

  • Morality
  • Altruism
  • Trust
  • Cooperation
  • Sympathy
  • Modesty

Agreeableness is a truly desirable trait to have when working in teams or cooperating on projects with other people. Employers usually make sure to hire people who are able to maintain harmony in the workplace. This is not to say, however, that people whose agreeableness is lower cannot be hired. Such people excel at making objective, often difficult decisions. The Big Five Personality Trait proves that less compliant people do well in science, army, or any other place where they need to deliver criticism of others’ work.  

Neuroticism

What is measured in this dimension is a person’s emotional stability and the ability to stay composed in stressful or demanding situations. Applicants’ negativity is estimated as well. As a rule, people scoring high on neurotic-ism are emotionally imbalanced and negative. They can also be irritable and moody. People whose score on neurotic-ism on the Big Five Personality Test is low tend to react to people and circumstances less emotionally, not getting upset when odds are stacked against them. They also experience fewer negative emotions than those applicants whose score on neurotic-ism is high and who often experience difficulty in thinking clearly and coping with stress. The sub traits of neurotic-ism are these:

  • Anxiety
  • Anger
  • Depression
  • Immoderation
  • Vulnerability
  • Self-consciousness

Needless to say, applicants who demonstrate on the test a higher degree of emotional stability are preferred by employers over those job candidates who seem to have low emotional stability, since the former control their emotions better in workplaces. Job applicants displaying neurotic-ism on the test are expected to be distracted from their tasks by excessive work load, late hours, deadlines, or their relationship with managers and co-workers.


Why Do the Employers Use the Big Five Personality Test?

Employers administer the Big Five Personality Test, because they believe its results give them a comprehensive picture of job candidates’ personality. By analysing candidates’ answers to the test’s questions, employers can predict with precision how they will behave in different situations or how they will react to various circumstances. They can also foresee if this particular candidate will become a strong asset to their business.   


How Can JobTestPrep Help?

JobTestPrep specialises in helping job applicant to fulfil their career ambitions and become employed in the company of their choice. To assist job candidates, we give them exhaustive answers to their questions. We also design test most accurately modelled on official tests and invite job candidates to practice with them. Our personality test simulations introduce applicants to the structure of actual test and direct them to understanding the principle behind its every question. By preparing with our test simulations, applicants can build an impressive personality profile that will inspire employers to invite them to a face-to-face interview and even make a hiring decision in their favour. Practice with our resources, create a memorable personality profile on your test, and start working in the company where you have always wanted to be employed.   

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