What are the Big Five Personality Traits (Five Factor Model)?

Definition of Big Five Personality Traits:

Personality research has generated a variety of different theories that attempt to define and measure personality. The most widely accepted taxonomy of personality among industrial-organizational psychologists is the Big Five Personality Traits model, or the Five Factor Model of personality.

The Five Factor Model breaks personality down into five components: Agreeableness, Conscientiousness, Extraversion, Openness, and Stress Tolerance. These are broad dimensions of personality that exist across cultures and geographies, making them an ideal way to assess personality.

Personality tests that are based on this model measure where an individual lies on the spectrum of each of the five traits.

What Does a Big 5 Personality Test measure?

  • Agreeableness is a measure of an individual’s tendencies with respect to social harmony. This trait reflects how well the individual gets along with others, how cooperative or skeptical they are, and how they might interact within a team.

  • Conscientiousness is a measure of how careful, deliberate, self-disciplined, and organized an individual is. Conscientiousness is often predictive of employee productivity, particularly in lower-level positions.
  • Extraversion is a measure of how sociable, outgoing, and energetic an individual is. Individuals who score lower on the extraversion scale are considered to be more introverted, or more deliberate, quiet, low key, and independent. Some types of positions are better suited for individuals who fall on one side of the spectrum or the other.
  • Openness measures the extent to which an individual is imaginative and creative, as opposed to down-to-earth and conventional.
  • Stress Tolerance measures the ways in which individuals react to stress.

How are Big Five Personality Traits used in hiring?

Many organizations choose to use the Five Factor Model of personality to evaluate their candidates during the hiring process. This is because the presence of certain Big Five Personality Traits are positively correlated with success on the job, and can therefore be predictive of future job performance.

Consider a sales position. The type of person who would feel most comfortable taking on the required duties of the role would tend to be more extroverted and achievement oriented. Hiring someone whose personality aligns with these job-relevant traits means they will feel more comfortable in the role, leading to better performance and reduced turnover.