Personality Traits and Job-worker Match: Evidence from a Personnel Services Firm

Anna Daelen (Goethe University Frankfurt)
Guido Friebel (Goethe University Frankfurt)
Matthias Heinz (University of Cologne)
Nick Zubanov (University of Konstanz)

Abstract: We study the association between job applicants’ personality characteristics and their match to the job. Our unique data come from around 200 of new hires in a major personnel services firm, and consist of “big five” personality characteristics, risk attitudes and intertemporal choice preferences matched with their personnel records. We find a robust link between the likelihood of staying on the job and the personality trait of conscientiousness (self-discipline and dutifulness). The correlations between turnover and other personality traits are less robust to specification. Our study contributes to the literature on the importance of personality traits for performance on the job by (i) validating its findings in a setting that is robust to applicants’ “gaming” the results to improve their chances; (ii) using very detailed data; and (iii) applying a broad battery of methods, including machine learning techniques.

Download the paper