Looking at Employee Personality: The Big 5

By Cary L. Cooper, Sheena Johnson, Lynn Holdsworth

Part of Organisational Behaviour For Dummies Cheat Sheet (UK Edition)

The Big 5 is probably the most famous and most commonly used personality model in the workplace and employers commonly use it in the selection process. Unsurprisingly, this model has five personality traits. An easy way to remember the traits is to use the acronym OCEAN. The following table shows the relationship between these five traits and job performance.

Personality Trait Brief Description Link to Job Performance
Open to experience/closed to experience From being open to new experiences and imaginative to being
less open to new experiences, narrow-minded, and unimaginative
Predicts training performance
Conscientious/disorganised From being well-organised, focused on targets, goals, and
deadlines, dependable and good at paying attention to detail to
being impulsive, disorganised, and less detail-focused
Predicts performance across most jobs and organisational
Extroverted/introverted From being outgoing and good at dealing with people (managers
tend to be more extroverted than the average person) to being less
outgoing and comfortable in own company or that of their close
Predicts performance for some jobs – sales, for
Agreeable/tough-minded From being usually good-natured, keen to co-operate with
others, careful to avoid conflict, easy to get on with, and not
argumentative to being unfriendly, strong-willed, and not averse to
Nice to have at work and can be useful in customer-facing roles
but studies report it being the weakest Big 5 predictor of good job
Neurotic/stable From having a tendency to experience negative states such as
anger, anxiety, and guilt, to being stable, rarely upset, and
typically calm
Predicts poor job performance