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Big Five and Personnel Selection

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One of the main processes in human resources management within an organization is the recruitment and selection of personnel. This is because, if the selection processes are properly carried out, the chances that the personnel will have a good performance are greater. This way, the selected personnel that takes advantage of the training provided by the company has greater possibilities for promotion. And this, in turn, decreases the probabilities of turnover for the company.

Several tools and instruments can be used to carry out a good selection process. Among these are interviews, references, intelligence tests, value tests, questionnaires, personality tests, and others; the decision to use some instruments and tools depends mainly on the personnel selection model of each organization. Two main models that are currently in use are traditional selection and strategic selection.

The traditional selection considers significant stability between the economic and labor market, so they focus on the employees to perform the same activities in the long term. That is why these companies carry out their selection processes in environments and with tools that allow them to ensure the development of their activities.

Now, the strategic selection model considers that the economy keeps moving in a volatile scenario. Due to the above, these companies require some characteristics in their workers to perform their activities; among these characteristics are teamwork, responsibility, flexibility, honesty, organization, among many others. However, to evaluate the aforementioned traits, it is necessary to apply specific instruments that provide predictive data on each person concerning the characteristics required for each position.

History of the Big Five test

The “Big Five” model has been established since the 1990s because of the extensive research and empirical support it has accumulated. The Big Five model raises the possibility of creating a scientific and decisive framework that establishes the incalculable individual differences in people. It is based on five main personality factors that explain the relationship between individual characteristics.

The five major factors considered by this model are:

  • Emotional stability vs. neuroticism: Emotional stability is related to the emotional conciliation shown by a person and includes among its traits emotional control, joy, security, or relief. Neuroticism conceives characteristics such as sadness, anger, anxiety, or dislike.
  • Extroversion vs. introversion: Extroversion shows the need a person has for attention from others, how social, ambitious, and active they can be. While introversion is the opposite, the degree to which a person avoids contact with others; is passive, talks little, or engages as little as possible with other people.
  • Openness to experience vs. closedness to experience: The openness to experience factor is related to people who are intuitively curious and flexible in their attitudes, beliefs, values, and ideas. Individuals who are closed to experience are, on the contrary, conventional or conservative.
  • Friendliness vs. antagonism: Friendliness refers to a friendly relationship with other people, among its characteristics are kindness, cooperation, flexibility in their relationships, etc. Antagonism on the other hand is related to people who have competitive characteristics, low tolerance, unpleasantness, among others.
  • Conscientiousness vs. unscrupulousness: Conscientiousness relates to the degree to which a person is responsible, honest, organized, persevering, and success-oriented. Unscrupulousness, on the other hand, refers to unreliable, irresponsible, or careless people.

Big Five test in personnel selection

Several pieces of research have been carried out within the framework of organizational psychology with the main objective of developing tests that allow knowing the personality of the subjects and their level of adjustment to the profile or characteristics desired for each job position. The purpose of these tests is to predict the performance that a person will have in their work environment.
For personnel selection processes, assessing the personality of candidates is a significant factor for decision making.

The various studies and research that have been conducted on the Big Five show positive results regarding the relationship between personality and job performance. Other data found show significant predictions with job satisfaction, career development, and success in job training.

In the area of personnel selection, the Big Five test can predict a person’s performance by considering their personality characteristics in the following factors:

  • Emotional Stability/Neuroticism: People with high emotional stability show patient, calm, and the ability to cope successfully with stressful and tense situations, which positively impacts their job performance. On the other hand, those who score high in neuroticism are temperamental people that have frequent negative feelings, such as sadness or fear, which is likely to interfere with their work activities.
  • Extroversion/Introversion: Those who score high in extraversion present sociable characteristics, enjoy working in groups, relating to others, and tend to be optimistic and assertive. On the other hand, those who score high in introversion are reserved, withdrawn, and avoid relationships with others. Both characteristics have an important impact on job performance, especially for positions that require constant teamwork or contact with people (such as customer service or sales positions).
  • Openness to experience/Closure to experience: Individuals who are highly open to experience have characteristics of adaptation, creativity, and perception. In contrast, those who are closed to experience prefer to obey rules and choose to stay in familiar activities and avoid newness or change. How these characteristics impact job development depends on the activities performed in each position, since, if it is a position that has to be constantly updated and that continually makes changes in its processes, a person who is closed to experience will not adapt in the same way as someone open to it.
  • Friendliness/Antagonism: People who score high on friendliness indicate a person who is supportive, altruistic, and considerate of others. Those who score high on antagonism, however, tend to be distrustful, suspicious, and reluctant to participate with others. These characteristics are related to teamwork and the participation that a person will have in their work environment.
  • Conscientiousness/Lack of conscientiousness: Those who score high in conscientiousness have personality characteristics such as persistence, responsibility, sense of duty, organization, among others. While people who score high in lack of conscientiousness are careless, do not follow the rules, are not result-oriented, and do not obey moral principles. These characteristics predict attitudes and behaviors for adequate job performance or for actions that are counterproductive or go against the company’s interests.