Get awesome marketing content related to Hiring & L&D in your inbox each week

Stay up-to-date with the latest marketing, sales, and service tips and news
The role of the Big Five personality test in hiring

Talent Assessment | 6 Mins Read

The role of the Big Five personality test in hiring


The Big Five personality test, or the OCEAN model, assesses candidates in five dimensions: openness, conscientiousness, extroversion, agreeableness, and neuroticism. Openness reflects creativity and curiosity, conscientiousness represents thoughtfulness, extroversion indicates sociability, agreeableness

reflects kindness, and neuroticism involves emotional instability or sadness. Understanding the meaning of these traits and their scores can provide valuable insights for recruiting managers. This means administering the Big Five personality test before interviews can help recruiters gain crucial insights into candidates’ personalities.




The Big Five personality traits

  • Openness: This trait measures an individual’s natural inclination towards unfamiliar, adventurous, and exciting experiences and their openness to new experiences. Candidates who score high on this trait tend to be more creative and can easily consider abstract concepts. Candidates who score low on this trait may be more focused and pragmatic.
  • Conscientiousness: This trait measures how reliable, organized, and disciplined an individual may be. Candidates scoring high on this trait can quickly get their priorities in order and will likely stick to schedules. A low score in this trait may indicate high levels of openness and a risk-taking attitude.
  • Extroversion: Extroverts feel energized by socializing with others, while introverts feel energized by being alone. Candidates who score high on this trait are naturally excitable, talkative, exuberant, and impulsive and tend to be more expressive. Candidates who score low on this trait thrive in low-key environments, are calmer and quieter, and are organized in approaching life and work. They are generally more reserved, contemplative, and private, preferring to work alone.
  • Agreeableness: Agreeableness is a critical factor for assessing how easy it is to get along with a person. Candidates who score high on this trait tend to show pro-social attributes like affection, kindness, and altruism. However, they may also be submissive and naïve. Candidates who score low on this trait tend to be more argumentative and competitive, and in some cases, they may be a little antagonistic towards others.
  • Neuroticism: High scores may be indicative of emotional vulnerability. Candidates who score high on this trait are best suited for working in calm environments with predictable stress levels. On the other hand, candidates who get low scores on this trait are well-equipped to cope adequately with stress.


Benefits of using the Big Five personality test

Using the Big Five (OCEAN) personality test for hiring offers various benefits.

  • The Big Five personality traits of candidates can help recruiters better understand their personalities’ intricacies.
  • The Big Five personality test can map out the workplace potential of candidates even before the interview rounds begin.
  • The Big Five personality types provide deep insights into an individual’s behavior, which can help recruiters understand candidates’ intentions and help them communicate with different teams more effectively.
  • The test allows hiring the most suitable candidates who are also an excellent cultural fit for the organization.


Why are the Big Five personality traits important

The Big Five personality types and traits should not be the sole criteria for making hiring decisions. However, when used in addition to other recruitment practices, a candidate’s Big Five personality traits can help recruiters understand how they would fit into the job role, how they will work with other people on the team, and whether they will be a good fit for the company culture. The insights gained into the candidates’ personality traits can also be used to enhance learning and development initiatives within the organization.




Which Big Five personality types make the best leaders

One may think that extroversion is one of the critical traits of good leaders, as extroverts generally possess excellent leadership skills, they are sociable, and encourage open discussions. Typically, extraversion is the most vital characteristic, followed by conscientiousness, openness, and neuroticism, with agreeableness being the least common trait.

However, when it comes to good leaders, there may be better prioritization of the Big Five personality traits. Conscientiousness is one of the most essential traits that a leader should possess. Conscientious leaders are diligent over individual tasks and tend to work on them until they are completed, which helps people trust them as someone who can be relied upon.

Openness is another essential trait for leaders. Often, leaders will find themselves in situations that they cannot control. Their ability to make crucial decisions will be an essential strength. Their solutions will come with a certain level of creativity, which comes with openness.

Neuroticism and agreeableness are two of the least attractive Big Five personality traits for leaders. Neuroticism in leaders makes them unsure of any decisions or even scared about the decisions that may be made, leading to no decision being taken. On the other hand, agreeableness brings more people skills, but people skills do not equal leadership skills. Agreeableness may lead individuals to worry more about pleasing people than being productive.


How do the Big Five personality traits help predict workplace behavior

Whether used during recruitment or for assessing existing employees, the Big Five personality traits can help understand an individual’s workplace behavior and provide indicators to predict their future performance. Each personality type will impact the working environment differently, but identifying where the impact may be positive and where it may be harmful can support decision-making regarding hiring candidates and retaining employees.

For instance, candidates who score high on openness are willing to learn new skills, and when they are presented with abstract issues, they are likely to think of abstract solutions. Candidates who score high on conscientiousness are keen on meeting deadlines and getting their work done, and they generally require minimal supervision. For extraversion, the ideal scores depend on the job role. Candidates with high scores on extraversion do well in environments where they can interact with others. Candidates who score high on agreeableness are best suited for roles that require personal skills. Candidates with high scores in neuroticism need to work better in job roles that involve constant changes or high-stress levels.


How are the Big Five personality traits measured

The Big Five personality test provides candidates with multiple statements that they must rank on a Likert scale ranging from 1 (strongly disagree) to 5 (strongly agree) by self-evaluating their behavior and thoughts in response to each statement. The rankings candidates provide are then analyzed to determine their level in each of the Big Five personality traits, which can help predict their suitability for a job role and future performance.


How the OCEAN test can help make informed hiring decisions

The Big Five personality test should be a part of a comprehensive pre-employment assessment process. It should be administered during the earlier stages of the recruitment process, along with domain-based skills assessment tests to filter out unsuitable candidates before the interview. The test can help better understand a candidate’s personality in shorter time frames, which can also help reduce the time-to-hire. Once a candidate has been selected for hiring, the results of their Big Five personality test can also help adjust the management approach based on the candidate’s personality traits.


Are Big Five personality tests reliable

Ever since the early 1990s, when the test was initially developed, the Big Five model has been used widely, partly because it has proven effective. While one’s personality may develop continuously over one’s lifetime, personality changes that happen afterward are usually small and gradual.

However, it is crucial to remember that personality tests cannot be used to perform a diagnosis. Personality tests, like the Big Five personality test, are tools for gaining insights into individuals’ behaviors and thought patterns and enabling informed decision-making




How can Mercer | Mettl help find the right person for a job role

Mercer | Mettl offers personality assessment tools that can be used to evaluate the critical behavioral competencies of candidates. Hiring managers can explore various personality tests customized to match the organization’s unique hiring requirements.

With the scientifically validated personality assessments by Mercer | Mettl, hiring managers can predict how candidates will respond to complex situations and perform in a specific job role if they were to be hired. The tests can provide a unique perspective into a candidate’s personality, help evaluate their psychological intelligence, promote personal and career growth, and help improve interpersonal relationships within the workplace.



1. What is the Big Five test used for?

2. How long is the Big Five (OCEAN) personality test?

3. Is the Big Five personality test better than MBTI?

Originally published June 10 2024, Updated June 10 2024

Written by

Harsh Vardhan Sharma, with 6 years of content writing expertise across diverse B2B and B2C verticals, excels in crafting impactful content for broad audiences. Beyond work, he finds joy in reading, traveling, and watching movies.

About This Topic

Personality assessments are a method of identifying candidates whose characteristics match the role and organization’s requirements. Personality assessments help HRs make effective people decisions by placing people in positions suited to their disposition.

Related Products

Mercer | Mettl's Personality Profiler Test

Help you hire better, identify faster, and develop right

Know More

Personality Assessments For Hiring And L&D

Personality Tests To Measure Personality Traits & Behavioural Outcomes

Know More

Psychometric Assessments For Hiring And L&D

The Best Psychometric Tests To Enable You To Find Your Ideal Candidate

Know More

Related posts

Would you like to comment?


Thanks for submitting the comment. We’ll post the comment once its verified.

Get awesome marketing content related to Hiring & L&D in your inbox each week

Stay up-to-date with the latest marketing, sales, and service tips and news