The term “Conscientious” prompts thoughts of being prepared, on time, organized and responsible.
When discussing behaviors associated with individuals who possess a high level of the Big 5 personality trait Conscientiousness, it suggests all of those things. Perhaps less obvious, however, is that the trait indicates concern for the needs of others, along with other surprising characteristics that are valuable in the workplace. In this blog, we’ll discuss some of these interesting and lesser-known facts about Conscientiousness, both within and outside of a work context.

Nature vs. Nurture

There is evidence that individuals displaying high levels of conscientiousness have a biological disposition toward the personality trait. But there is also evidence that children who have emotionally involved parents are more likely to be conscientious than children whose parents are emotionally distant, especially when children are young.

Correlation with Longevity

Highly conscientious people are expectedly goal oriented and tend to avoid harmful habits and reckless activities. As a result, they have longer average lifespans than their less focused and more impulsive peers.

A Trait That Matures with Age

In the case of Conscientiousness, there is a tendency for the trait to increase as a person ages.  This means that job candidates with high levels of this trait can offer great value to an employer with dependable on-the-job performance after hire, as well as the potential future benefit of steady or improved performance over time as their Conscientiousness strengthens.

Promises Made and Kept

Going beyond the realms of dependability and reliability, professionals with a high level of Conscientiousness will endeavor to earn and keep the trust of those around them. This is partly attributed to their organized, punctual, and dutiful behaviors, and also because they are known to keep the promises they make. This may come easily to them, however, as they are cautious about any decision they make and won’t issue a promise without considering whether they will be able to accomplish the task.

Higher Risk of Burnout

Those who display high levels of conscientiousness are subject to the risk of burning the candle from both ends, and pursuing projects to their completion regardless of the personal cost.

Duty-bound, goal-driven employees can become liabilities if they stack up sick days or compromise their effectiveness by working past exhaustion. Physicians are a good example of conscientious workers who risk allowing the demands of their job to lead to exhaustion and as a result, increasing the chance of mistakes and inefficiencies.

Using Conscientiousness When Hiring

Conscientiousness is a strong predictor of job success in many work settings, making it a desirable trait for a candidate to possess. Most employers place a high value on employees who are dependable, organized, detail-minded and rule-following. And rightly so. But Conscientiousness is only one of the Big Five personality traits and should be considered alongside other behavioral characteristics that can influence job candidate’s potential for future job performance.

When used as the foundation for a pre-employment assessment, the other Big Five traits —Agreeableness, Openness, Extraversion and Emotional Stability—combine with Conscientiousness to form a personality profile unique to the person taking the test, and that profile gives hiring managers a data-driven method of candidate selection.