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Key takeaways:

  • The five major personality traits are openness, conscientiousness, extroversion, agreeableness and neuroticism. 

  • Employers care about personality traits because they may help anticipate how an employee will interact with others in the workplace. 

Understanding your personal attributes is a key part of career development. An awareness of your personality traits and others’ can help you do your best at work and result in enhanced workplace relationships and career fulfillment. 

In this article, we define personality traits and provide a list of the Big Five, plus other characteristics that can help you achieve success.

What are personality traits?

Personality traits are characteristics and qualities that help define you as a unique individual. They’re often developed throughout life and may remain consistent across many situations and circumstances. 

Employers care about personality traits because they help them anticipate how you’ll interact with others in the workplace. Personality traits can also provide an indication of a person's likely response to certain situations and pressures they might encounter in your career.

Related: 10 Personal Traits To Include on Your Resume

The Big 5 personality traits

The Big Five personality traits are a set of descriptions of your personal qualities, including your emotions and how you function in certain situations. This five-factor model—also known as the OCEAN model—assumes that each category exists as a spectrum. 

Big 5 Personality Traits


  • OpennessRepresents how willing a person is to try new things

  • Conscientiousness: Refers to an individual's desire to be careful and diligent

  • Extroversion: Measures how energetic, outgoing and confident a person is

  • Agreeableness: Refers to how an individual interacts with others

  • Neuroticism: Represents how much someone is inclined to experience negative emotions

Although you’re likely to have a higher tendency toward one specific trait, this theory asserts that personalities generally contain a mix of the following:

1. Openness

Openness describes how adventurous, curious or open to new experiences you are. Highly open individuals tend to have a broad range of interests, and those who have a lower degree of openness may prefer consistency, routine and familiarity.

2. Conscientiousness

Conscientiousness measures your efficiency and organization. Those who fall higher on this spectrum tend to be task-focused, and those who are less conscientious are often more easily distracted and may enjoy spontaneity and work better under pressure.

Related: 7 Ways to Practice Conscientiousness at Work

3. Extroversion 

This category refers to how outgoing and energetic you are. People who are very extroverted are assertive and sociable, while those who are more introverted may prefer solitary activities and alone time, and need fewer social interactions to feel content.

Related: Introversion vs. Extroversion: What They Are and 7 Key Differences

4. Agreeableness 

Agreeableness is your friendliness, ability to show compassion and willingness to help others. Those who fall higher on this personality spectrum tend to be cooperative and polite, and those with less agreeableness are more likely to value rational and critical thinking.

5. Neuroticism 

This category—sometimes named by its opposite trait, emotional stability—accounts for your emotional sensitivity and the extent to which you’re inclined to worry or be temperamental. Neurotic people are prone to experiencing negative emotions, and those who are lower on the neuroticism spectrum may be less emotionally reactive and have greater self-confidence.

Read more: Big Five Personality Traits: Finding the Right Jobs for You

Other common personality traits

Understanding a broad range of personality traits can be important to achieve your personal and professional goals. Here’s a list of 12 additional personality traits that may help you succeed in the workplace:

1. Integrity

Integrity is the quality of honesty and commitment to ethical and high-quality decision-making. Many companies and industries prioritize integrity as a character trait because it can help support a positive organizational reputation. It can also help you succeed at work by establishing you as a person who will try to make the best decision in every situation.

Read more: Integrity: Definition and Examples

2. Accountability

Accountability is a willingness to take responsibility for your own actions. Employers often look for accountable employees because they may be likely to help drive organizational growth and take responsibility for their individual roles.

3. Organization

Organized individuals apply structure to their processes, tasks and surroundings. Employers often like to hire employees with this trait because it can benefit their business by saving time and keeping processes efficient. 

Related: Q&A: How Can I Stay Organized?

4. Ethics

People with strong ethics try to follow the moral standards of a particular context, such as a community or profession. Employers often try to hire people with strong ethics because they may be more likely to do their job according to the accepted best practices and moral guidelines of their field. 

5. Punctuality

Punctuality is a commitment to arriving and completing tasks on time.. This trait is important to most employers because their operations rely on people and processes functioning according to plan, which often includes timeliness. 

6. Flexibility

Flexibility is the ability and willingness to adapt to change. Many employers like to hire people with personal and professional flexibility, especially in fast-paced or dynamic industries. 

7. Collaboration

Collaboration means a willingness to work together. A business may value collaborative individuals if their operations rely on teamwork, which is true of many industries. 

8. Creativity

Creativity is the ability and interest in approaching challenges in new and unique ways. Many industries value creativity because creative employees may be more likely to drive innovation and development in their field. 

Related: How To Be More Creative: Why It's Important and Steps To Boost Creativity

9. Compassion

Compassion is a person's interest in caring for the needs of others. Employers in health care, education and numerous other fields emphasize compassion in their hiring requirements because it can support them in fulfilling their company mission and values. 

10. Work ethic

Work ethic refers to your commitment to the value of diligence and hard work. Many industries and employers value work ethic because it can maximize productivity, which may lead to enhanced revenue and profit. 

Related: Tips to Demonstrate Work Ethic

11. Dedication

Dedication is a commitment to one's ideals or responsibilities. Employers appreciate dedication in their employees because it can increase productivity and efficiency, which may in turn help support the company's mission and drive revenue. 

12. Honesty

Honesty is the quality of truthfulness in a person's words and actions. This is often a foundational value for many employers in their overall organizational mission as well as in their hiring practices, as many find that open, honest employees who speak candidly can be trusted with important responsibilities. 

Frequently asked questions

What is the seven-factor model of personality?

The seven-factor model of personality is similar to the OCEAN's Big Five model in that it attempts to summarize key personality traits. When developing the seven-factor model in 1987, Tellegen and Waller established the following broad dimensions of personality traits:

  • Positive emotionality

  • Negative emotionality

  • Dependability

  • Agreeability

  • Conventionality

  • Positive valence

  • Negative valence

What is the theory of four temperaments?

Another model for describing personality types is the theory of four temperaments. It has roots in humorism with the Greek physician Hippocrates developing it into a medical theory, though modern applications typically use it as a psychological tool. The four temperaments outlined in the theory are:

  • Melancholic (analytical)

  • Phlegmatic (relaxed)

  • Sanguine (optimistic)

  • Choleric (dominant)

How can I describe my personality to potential employers?

A candidate can describe their personality to potential employers by using compelling language. Consider reviewing the job description and incorporating relevant words like "savvy," "creative" and "organized" in your resume and cover letter. During an interview, make sure that your behaviors and mannerisms match your description of your personality. Being consistent with your job application materials demonstrates your authenticity and may help you differentiate yourself from other candidates.


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