Hiring for personality traits – What to look for in candidates? 

A few years back, a CareerBuilder’s study showcased an optimistic perspective for all those applicants who fear rejection because of their lack of experience in a particular position.

In the study, employers express that while it is important to know that a candidate has the qualifications to perform the job, being from having work experience or relevant education, those are only part of what employers select you from. Personality plays a role, particularly for companies that strive for and promote a great organizational culture. 

Summary (TL;DR)

Skills and education are only one part of the employer’s evaluation criteria. Personality traits and how they fit into the organizational culture play a significant role as well. In this blog, we outlined 5 personality traits that are valued among industries – teamwork, positive attitude, independent thinking, adaptability and good communication skills. Moreover, we gave specific top 3 personality traits for a salesperson, an engineer and a marketing manager.

Why is it important to get the right personality on board?  

Typically, how some employers proceed in the selection phase is:  

Screen for relevant experience and education
Invite for an interview the remaining candidates
Watch out for personality traits as well during the interview

The issue with this type of filtering of candidates is that a recruiter can easily discard candidates with potential who have strong soft skills who might miss having enough experience.  

The work environment and the people that an employee works with daily are significant contributors to the corporate culture. As such essential factors, who comes to the team makes a difference to the future social environment, how teams collaborate, their decision-making, and so forth. More and more employers recognize the influence of candidates’ personalities on the internal organizational system and watch out for soft skills 

Getting it right can create a competitive advantage for companies, especially if one manages to bring a diverse team together. Also, by considering a candidate for both their skills and personality early on, they decrease their chances of getting a bad hire and the costs associated with that. 

So, what personality traits are valued in an applicant?  

Best personality traits universally

Indeed, some personality traits are more appealing to specific jobs. However, there are some commonly attractive ones a recruiter should look out for, as they are transferable across various positions and industries. 

Here are the top 5 of the best personality traits: 

1. A team player 

Very few jobs require that a person works solely alone – most occupations require collaboration with others. Employees who manage to get along and work effectively with different personalities are valued by employers as (among most things) this raises efficiency to businesses. During the selection phase, a recruiter should pay attention to words such as “collaborated”, “worked in a team”,”contributed”. During the interview, one should pay attention to whether the candidates seem receptive to the received feedback. 

2. Positive attitude

There is nothing worse than a constant complainer for the work environment – people affect each other. If one is continuously and expressively negative, they bring the mood down, and the workdays can feel as if they are dragging. Consequently, it is no surprise that to some employers, a candidate with a positive attitude is the number one personality trait they watch for. That being said, it does not mean that candidates need to be highly upbeat to be considered positive. Those who show enthusiasm present the type of mindset that could approach the job with a positive attitude.

3. An independent thinker

Those who do not always agree with what the CEO says are valuable, as they think independently and bring perspectives. Employees who never express if they disagree and go along with everything their employers say typically hold back on changing the status quo and so forth. Employers appreciate those candidates and current employees who may not necessarily agree with the senior decision-making but still find a way to collaborate in a unified approach. 

4. Adaptable

As the world rapidly changes, so do work tasks. Employees who are resistant to changes stagnate the inevitable shifts and their development. It is particularly true for times such as the pandemic outbreak where businesses and employees needed to adapt to the shifting needs. Those employees who take on new challenges, who are willing to learn new skills or re-train, are the ones to enhance one’s business.

5. A good communicator

As a way to collaborate in teams, express ideas and tasks clearly in both verbal and written form, good communication skills are key. Moreover, being a good communicator is not only about being the active and well-articulated part-taker but also being able to be on the receiving end. One also needs to listen carefully and follow directions, as conversations are a two-way activity. During the interview, recruiters should look for those candidates who demonstrate an open and engaging communication style, including asking questions and accepting feedback. Those candidates showcase strong emotional intelligence  – a transferable skill that is highly beneficial for a thriving work environment.  

And how about specific job positions? We were curious as well and picked 3 job positions that have different and distinctive personality traits requirements. Or do they? Let us outline them.

Top personality traits for a great salesperson 

  1. Amiable 
  2. Analytical 
  3. Assertive 

Top personality traits for an engineer 

  1. Creativity 
  2. Critical thinking 
  3. Curiosity 

Top personality traits for a marketing manager

  1. Adaptability 
  2. People-skills 
  3. Sales-minded 

Looking to hire more objectively?

You do not need to weed out applicants solely on their skills and then consider their personality traits. 

 For the selection phase, there are tools out there that help you set aside your subjective gut feelings and review applications “blindly” – with no candidate demographics to impact your hiring decision. Only the skills, personality, values and culture that matches to your company’s unique preferences.