Study: Personality Traits Hiring Managers Find Most and Least Desirable in Job Candidates

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A new study from TopResume asked 330 US hiring managers, recruiters and HR professionals about their interview practices, preferences and turn-offs with job candidates. Out of a list of 21 personality traits that impress them most when hiring, these five characteristics were rated most attractive: 

  1. Adaptability
  2. Reliability
  3. Authenticity
  4. Confidence
  5. Honesty

A past study, conducted prior to the pandemic (2019), found four of these personality traits made the list, however, the order of preference was different. In the earlier study, “self-discipline” made the list. In this study, “adaptability” replaced “self-discipline.” According to Amanda Augustine, a certified career coach and resume writer at TopResume, “Inspired by the pandemic, ‘adaptability’ topped the list for what employers seek most in a candidate — an ability to adjust to new challenges in the workplace — especially in a volatile hiring landscape. Instead of candidates stating, ‘I’m adaptable,’ they should let interviewers know they’re equipped to handle curveballs by explaining how they brought creative solutions to the table. By providing concrete examples of ways they’ve successfully tackled challenges, they can demonstrate their flexibility and adaptability to the team.”

On the other side of the spectrum, hiring managers found the following five personality traits least attractive when considering job candidates:  

  1. Dishonesty
  2. Arrogance
  3. Unreliability
  4. Close-mindedness
  5. Entitlement

An earlier study (2022) in the series found that doing any of these five things during a virtual interview were deal-breakers that could cost a candidate a job offer: 

  1. Avoiding eye contact or staring into space
  2. Sitting in a messy room
  3. Leaving inappropriate tabs or apps open when screen-sharing
  4. Using an unprofessional background
  5. Being interrupted by the candidate’s family members

The study also found that while skills (86%) and experience (82%) where the top qualities employers value when considering prospective employees, the next most important trait was personality (55%), followed by potential (46%), education (22%), and appearance (2%).

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