Which Personality Attributes Are Most Important in the Workplace?

Paul R Sackett, Philip T. Walmsley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

43 Scopus citations

Abstract

Employees face a variety of work demands that place a premium on personal attributes, such as the degree to which they can be depended on to work independently, deal with stress, and interact positively with coworkers and customers. We examine evidence for the importance of these personality attributes using research strategies intended to answer three fundamental questions, including (a) how well does employees’ standing on these attributes predict job performance?, (b) what types of attributes do employers seek to evaluate in interviews when considering applicants?, and (c) what types of attributes are rated as important for performance in a broad sampling of occupations across the U.S. economy? We summarize and integrate results from these three strategies using the Big Five personality dimensions as our organizing framework. Our findings indicate that personal attributes related to Conscientiousness and Agreeableness are important for success across many jobs, spanning across low to high levels of job complexity, training, and experience necessary to qualify for employment. The strategies lead to differing conclusions about the relative importance of Emotional Stability and Extraversion. We note implications for job seekers, for interventions aimed at changing standing on these attributes, and for employers.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)538-551
Number of pages14
JournalPerspectives on Psychological Science
Volume9
Issue number5
DOIs
StatePublished - Sep 1 2014

Keywords

  • job performance
  • personality
  • workplace readiness

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