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    10 Traits Employers can Use for Predicting Job Performance


    In order to make the best hiring decisions, employers must, within reason, use predictors of job performance during the recruitment process. For example, certain personality traits and work habits can be good indicators of future success. By understanding these traits, employers can better assess candidates and make more informed hiring decisions during the interview process.

    This blog discusses ten predictors of career success, including: IQ, extraversion, emotional stability, assertiveness, conscientiousness, openness, networks, specific skills, interests, and goals. All of which can be used to predict job success.

    Why are employers interested in predicting job performance?

    A hiring manager will be interested in traits that have been proven to predict future job performance and use this knowledge during the hiring process.

    Understanding a candidate’s traits help employers gain insights into each employee’s habits, communication styles, information processing abilities and verbal reasoning skills –– all of which inform employers about a candidate’s general cognitive ability and help to predict job performance during the recruitment process.

    I) Intelligence Quotient (IQ)

    An intelligence quotient (IQ) is a total score derived from standardized cognitive ability tests designed to assess human intelligence and general mental ability. IQ is arguably the best measure of future performance and job success.

    Psychological research is on the fence about whether human IQ can be increased or not. Still, the evidence suggests improving cognitive skills through brain-training exercises is possible. For example, memory exercises, executive control, and visuospatial reasoning can help “sharpen” (but not raise) cognitive abilities.

    II) Extraversion

    Extraversion is the inclination to focus on gratification from the external environment. Extroverts are characterized by warmth, positivity, sociability, and excitement seeking.

    A Journal of Vocational Behavior study found that extraversion correlates positively with salary level, promotions, and career satisfaction. What’s more, studies demonstrate that being outgoing gives people an advantage in the workplace.

    • Studies show that extroverts have a 25% higher chance of being in a high-earning job versus introverts (Inc.com)

    Extroverts are motivated by external rewards, perform better on the job and earn more than their introverted colleagues. Additionally, extroverts are more likely to possess or exude confidence and assertiveness and are more socially outgoing.

    III) Emotional Stability

    Emotional stability enables individuals to develop an integrated and balanced perception of the world around them. It is the opposite of emotional instability and neuroticism.

    Emotionally stable people can manage the stresses and strains of daily life without becoming emotionally upset, anxious, nervous, tense, or angry.

    Emotional stability, also known as self-management and self-regulation, is a vital component of emotional intelligence. 

    Five essential self-regulation skills:

    • Goal-setting
    • Self-monitoring
    • Effective use of self-instructions
    • Self-talk
    • Self-reinforcement

    Emotionally stable individuals do not react to every situation or feeling. Instead, they can wait for their emotions to pass and respond using reason.

    As a result, people with high emotional stability can effectively control words and actions and make measured decisions rather than impulsive ones. Thus, emotionally stable people are good at adapting to change or new circumstances.

    IV) Assertiveness

    Assertiveness offers several benefits, ranging from reduced anxiety and depression to greater cognitive control and better relationships. And assertiveness is often associated with higher self-esteem and confidence.

    • Agreeable men earned 18% less than disagreeable men
    • Agreeable women earned 5% less than disagreeable women” (Workopolis)

    An Assertive professional knows how to communicate what they want clearly and respectfully. It means they are not afraid of expressing their opinions openly, authentically, and professionally.

    Assertive professionals can express themselves without disrespecting or undermining coworkers and peers. Assertiveness is a healthy, empowering behavior used to communicate professionally.

    When we effectively assert ourselves, we are neither aggressive nor passive; instead, we are honest and direct in sharing our views.

    V) Conscientiousness

    Conscientious individuals can exercise self-discipline and self-control in achieving their goals. Also, people with high conscientiousness are organized, determined, and able to postpone immediate gratification for long-term success.

    • Individuals at the 85th percentile of conscientiousness earn about $1,500 more per year than the average American, which amounts to about $96,000 more in lifetime earnings and $158,000 more in lifetime savings (University of Michigan).

    Conscientious individuals tend to achieve higher grades in school and college, independent of their cognitive ability. As employees, they are more productive, earn higher wages, and maintain positive working relationships. Plus, conscientious individuals are more likely to be promoted to leadership positions in organizations.

    Conscientiousness is a proven predictor of job success.

    VI) Openness

    Openness, aka open-mindedness, means being receptive to new ideas, opinions, or arguments. Moreover, open-minded individuals practice active listening, are genuinely curious about people, and are open to experiencing the world.

    • The effect size suggested that an increase in openness is associated with a 39% higher likelihood of experiencing upward job changes into managerial and professional positions. (NCBI)

    Highly open employees tend to be a good fit for leadership positions. Furthermore, they are more likely to seek complex, self-directed jobs with higher statuses, such as managerial and professional positions.

    Openness is one of the best predictors of job performance and upward mobility.

    VII) Personal & Social Network

    A personal network contributes to professional and social well-being. Networks are family, friends, and professional colleagues that play an essential role in exchanging ideas and providing emotional support and opportunities.

    • 85% of positions are filled through networking. (com)
    • 95% of professionals consider face-to-face communication vital for long-term business.

    How a network support career success

    • Contributes to your social well-being
    • leads to the exchange of ideas (active learning)
    • Helps you meet people at all professional levels
    • Boosts your professional confidence

    Social interaction through networks helps individuals keep in touch with the job market, as well as meet prospective clients and mentors. In sum, networks and networking provide access to crucial resources necessary to further career development.

    VIII) Specific Skills

    Job-specific skills are abilities that prepare prospective candidates for a particular job. Some skill sets are attained via school or training programs. In contrast, others are acquired through experiential learning on the job.

    Specific skill sets provide the necessary foundation

    • Needed to perform specialized job duties
    • Knowledge to sell particular products or services
    • required to operate specialized technical equipment.

    Soft Skills: These are interpersonal or people skills that relate to the ability to work with others. This in-demand skill set encompasses critical thinking, good communication, attention to detail, conflict resolution abilities, problem-solving approach, etc.

    Hard Skills: These are quantifiable and teachable skills. Hard skills include specific technical knowledge and abilities required for a particular job. Examples of hard skills include programming, accounting, mathematics, and data analysis. Most of these skills are taught in schools, colleges, and universities.

    IX) Interests

    Interests are an essential factor when deciding on a career. When we love what we are doing, we are more committed and willing to put our best foot forward and strive to learn (job knowledge).

    Interests are closely related to student effort, forming a critical component of intellectual engagement at school. Moreover, they are a robust motivational process that energizes learning, guides academic and career trajectories, and is essential to achievement.

    X) Goals

    Setting goals triggers behaviors that help guide individual focus and sustain the momentum in achieving them. Goals also help align personal focus and promote a sense of self-mastery.

    Goals are essential to success because they:

    • Provide direction
    • Help to measure and benchmark progress
    • Identify and focus on what is important
    • Unlock natural motivational forces
    • Facilitate personal Accountability
    • Help manage time
    • facilitates growth mindset 

    A Harvard Business study relating to goal setting and success found that:

    • 14% of respondents who have goals are ten times more successful than those without goals
    • 3% of respondents with written goals are three times more successful than the 14% with unwritten goals.

    Goals drive us forward in life and help us achieve our desired outcomes. They motivate us to do more. In organizations, a key responsibility of managers is to set goals and encourage employees to achieve them.

    While many traits predict job performance and career success, the ones we’ve listed here are some of the most important. Employers who use these predictors of job performance can make informed decisions about who to hire and help ensure their businesses run as smoothly as possible.

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