Some psychologists and researchers agree that personality and job performance might be relevant in certain occupations, but the connection could be less important in other jobs. Studies looked at the relationship between agreeableness, conscientiousness, openness to experience, self-esteem, and emotional stability to determine if the two were related. The results showed high correlations in some areas, but found cognitive ability — memory, adaptability, thinking ahead, focus, etc. — often represented a more important factor.
A person with the personality trait of agreeableness might not represent the best candidate for a supervisor's job, research found. His or her personality and job performance might clash if agreeableness makes it hard to delegate tasks and enforce company regulations regarding attendance and productivity. A supervisor who lacks this trait, however, might make unreasonable demands on employees and lose their respect.
Job performance in sales or marketing might be linked to extroversion. An extrovert commonly becomes energized around other people, especially in social situations. These social skills might provide job performance indicators when hiring candidates in these professions. Conversely, if a job requires solitary work, cognitive abilities might be more important for getting the job done.
When looking at conscientiousness — being principled, disciplined, and careful — most studies linked the trait to personality and job performance. A person who acts conscientiously in all facets of life might be more likely to finish a job and complete tasks to the best of his or her ability. In some companies, finishing assigned work represents a more important quality than getting along with coworkers.
Critics of these models believe testing for personality traits should relate to a specific job opening. They also contend tests developed for analyzing personality can be easily faked by an applicant. Some psychologists say only a tenuous link between personality and job performance exists because standard tests used by employers are limited. They propose enhancing test procedures by asking open-ended questions to gain more information about a job applicant's personality.
Other psychologists believe more effective tools for hiring and promoting employees exist. Intensive interviewing tactics might uncover more valuable information about a person's experience and ability than personality testing. Aptitude tests might also provide pertinent information, along with asking applicants for samples of their work.
Some employers use a combination of personality tests and emotional intelligence tests to evaluate prospective employees. Emotional intelligence testing might indicate how an applicant handles anger and his or her degree of self-control. It might also reveal traits that indicate resilience, confidence, and optimism.