Understand the Big 5 Personality Factors to Manage IT Workforce Better
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Understand the Big 5 Personality Factors to Manage IT Workforce Better

By Mainak Biswas June 30, 2014 - 1,686 views

Psychologists and personality researchers believe that there are 5 basic kinds of personalities. When we talk about personality, it is a pattern of behavior that is enduring and relatively permanent. It occurs in a pattern and an individual behaves from that personality paradigm. At workplace, it is important to understand what personality type your employee has and how they might often behave.

Why you need to understand personality types and traits?

Understanding personality types helps employers and businesses to weed out a number of people who might not be fit for a job. Also, personality types help us to understand our employees better and make sure that we train and mentor them in a way that is most suitable for them. That only increases productivity at work and helps us to grow as successful businesses.

The Big 5 personality factors

Usually, psychologists classify personality types into the ‘Big 5’. These are 5 personality types that have been reduced to their states after subjecting various personality styles to factor analysis. Earlier, Raymond Cattell’s “16 Personality Factors” was seen as the gold standard but it increasingly began to be viewed as too complex. Eyesenck Introversion-extraversion Scale proved to be too simplistic. Thus, the Big 5 personality factors are a great way to understand people and the way they might behave in future. It also helps us to recruit the right kind of employees. In this article, we will describe the 5 personality factors that psychologists, usually, talk about.


This is one of the most coveted characteristics in the job market today. However, that does not mean it is a particularly desirable personality trait. Extraversion as a trait includes characteristics such as being talkative, assertive, emotional expressiveness, sociability and excitability. People who score high on extraversion tend to be outgoing and they can interact with people well. They are also expressive and if you need a presentation to be made, hiring an extraverted person is better. On the other end of the scale, introverts tending to be less excitable are introspective and thoughtful. We must remember that neither of the personality trait is a negative or a positive quality. Some people tend to be extraverted and they are better suited to certain kinds of jobs. Introverts, on the other hand, make great decision makers and leaders. They are introspective and thoughtful, which makes them measured and careful. Introverts are less likely to make rash decisions or be impulsive. That makes them more reliable. However, an introvert is not the best choice for a marketing job, where he or she will have to interact with a number of people and be persuasive & assertive at the same time.


Agreeableness, as a trait, is very important when it comes to hiring. A person who scores high on this trait will, usually, be trustworthy, trustful, affectionate, kind and altruistic. They possess pro-social behaviors, which are required not only for employees but also for leaders. It is very important to see if a potential recruit is pro-social and scores high on agreeableness. Those who are agreeable tend to be helpful and make it a joy to work with. However, those who score less on this trait might be difficult people to deal with and might not be sympathetic to all your concerns & needs. They might also tend to be suspicious and cold. However, that does not mean you must not hire someone who scores very low on agreeableness. If he or she is well-qualified and is suitable for a job, you can always hire them. You need not expect them to be very agreeable and friendly. On the other hand, hiring someone who is affectionate and kind will help you to make sure that the workplace is less stressful & a pleasant place to be.


People who are conscientious tend to be very thoughtful and careful. They have very good impulse control and are, usually, goal-directed. They are also organized and mindful of details. Someone who scores high on conscientiousness might also be a perfectionist or obsessive about order. That is again not a much cherished quality. Choose someone who has a moderate level of conscientiousness so that they are neither undisciplined and sloppy nor obsessively perfectionist. On this trait, walking the middle ground is a better idea. An example is someone who scores high on conscientiousness and is what the teenagers would call ‘a stuck-up’. On the other hand, someone who scores very low on conscientiousness will be much undisciplined and not thoughtful at all. They might be given to impulses and might act randomly. When it comes to hiring someone who needs to make decisions, it is better to higher someone who scores on the hire side of this scale. However, if you are hiring a creative person, it is better to hire someone with just a moderate level of conscientiousness.


Those who score very high on neuroticism tend to be emotionally instable and anxious. They might also be moody, irritable and given to sadness. Those who score high on neuroticism also tend to be creative but one of the flipsides is that they might not be pleasant always. They might also be given to negative thinking. On other other hand, those who score very low on neuroticism maybe unusually calm and might not take good decisions when there is an emergency. Those who score very low on neuroticism often remain complacent and careless. Lack of anxiety is not always a good thing. It is a good thing to be a little anxious and not overly anxious or unusually calm. On this trait, it is important to ensure that an individual neither scores too high nor too low. Just making sure that they are slightly more neurotic or slightly less neurotic is more than enough. At the end of the day, you neither want to hire someone who is very depressive nor do you want to hire someone who just does not take things seriously. When it comes to personality types, we need to be very careful not to judge people arbitrarily.


Those who score high on this trait tend to be imaginative and insightful. They are, usually, open to new experiences and tend to be liberal. Those who have high scores on openness also will have a wide range of interests. They are, usually, the ones who will come up with new ideas, be adventurous and try new things in a restaurant. They do not like monotony and traditions. They have the ability to think out of the box and be creative. A person who does not score very high on openness will not be a very adventurous person. He or she might not be able to enjoy new situations or come up with creative solutions. Thus, if you are looking for a person who can think out of the box, it might be necessary to hire someone who scores high on openness. It is important to ensure that he or she also scores well on other traits. At the end of the day, all the 5 traits need to be considered together and must be understand as an amalgamation of the personality of the individual. Randomly looking for certain traits and rejecting or judging the individual might cause more loss to you than benefits.

When you hire someone for a job, make sure they first have the qualification and experience to do the job. Once you have shortlisted a pool of people, conduct personality assessment tests such as the Neo-5 Personality Inventory. This particular test provides the Big 5 traits described above. Choose a person who matches your job profile and avoid people who do not do so. There is no right or wrong personality trait. It is just that you need to choose a person who comes with the best personality traits. Personality tests do not take a long time and can be easily administered. If you are not sure how to administer a personality test, you can hire a psychologist for a few hours so that he or she can help you with the process. It is very crucial to understand the personality traits and which combination suits your job requirements the best. Make sure that you understand all the 5 traits properly and then go ahead with your quest for hunting the right candidate with the right personality.

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