Whom should you hire as your new manager?

Author: Mendoza College

The people person? The creative genius?

Or somebody who always finishes his vegetables before eating dessert?

The best hire is probably the veggie-eater, who conscientiously puts duty before pleasure.

Researchers have found that conscientiousness is one of the best predictors of job performance, say J. Michael Crant, management professor at the Mendoza College of Business. He wrote the “Personality and Careers” entry for the 2006 edition of the Encyclopedia of Career Development, published by Sage Publications.

Conscientiousness is one of the Big Five factors of personality, along with extroversion, neuroticism, openness to experience and agreeableness. The five-factor model relates personality traits to work behavior, with the idea that certain traits fit better with particular careers. For example, extroverts tend to be good salespeople.

“But consciousness cuts across all jobs and occupations,” says Crant. People who are high in this quality are responsible, persevere and go beyond the call of duty in performing extra roles at work, whether that involves flipping burgers or analyzing hedge funds.

The encyclopedia entry builds on Crant’s 20 years of research regarding the proactive personality, described as the person who takes action to change circumstances for the better rather than merely accepting conditions. Crant’s studies show that proactive workers tend to earn more, receive more promotions and report greater career satisfaction than people who passively adapt to circumstances.

For more information about how personality traits relate to careers, visit Professor Crant’s Web site at business.nd.edu/jmichaelcrant.