Conscientiousness is a key performance predictor to look for when you analyze your candidates

Cristina Imre
Published in
4 min readSep 16, 2021


Personality traits are crucial because they don’t change overnight

Photo by Andrew Neel on Unsplash

Recruiting people is a scary thing. You’ll let in a new employee who can make or break things in the company.

It’s a risk.

When what you read, see, or hear doesn’t match with reality…

Despite stellar resumes, impressive credentials, and good recommendations, it’s still about the outside appearance. Those are not clear indicators of whether the job applicant will be a good fit.

Although the hiring process can be lengthy, it takes less time to discover a bad hire. And that’s devastating. To name a few, the cost of replacement is significant, and the morale of the company is affected.

Once a bad hire is identified, the best thing you can do is to not delay fire decisions. What’s even more important is to make sure you don’t make the same mistake again.

Simultaneous or repetitive bad hires can destroy or bankrupt a company. And if you are a recruiter, it will ruin your reputation.

Individuals are complex and in addition to their technical skills, they have a multitude of characteristics, traits, and performance indicators to be measured. As the saying goes, “You can train skills, but an attitude is a different story.”

Now that we highlighted the importance of the right fit, let’s see…

Why do we need conscientious people in our company?

Because they do the job. This is the short answer.

But there is another one, that’s very revealing.

“The truth is that 100+ years of psychological research has shown conscientiousness — that is, the tendency toward self-efficacy, orderliness, achievement, and self-discipline — to be the best predictor of job performance.”


The most productive people tend to have solid conscientious traits.

Now, there are some twists to consider in the equation.

The two sub-facets of Conscientiousness

Conscientiousness has two sub-facets: industriousness and orderliness. And we also have NEO sub-facets. The NEO PI-R is considered the gold standard of personality tests.

Conscientiousness Facets and Sub-Facets

Like with any formula, there are distinctions when it comes to assessing a person from these sub-facets stands of view.

To give you some useful insights, people who score high in orderliness have a high sensitivity for disgust. In return, industrious people cannot stand sitting around and doing nothing.

So we can see that the industrious sub-facets tend to weigh more when it comes to productivity, but you still need to have both.

The industrious ones feel really bad if they’re not continuously productive. You won’t hear them much-answering questions like, “What activities do you enjoy the most?” with “Sitting in the sun and watching the birds.” or “Relaxing at the beach.”

Work-life balance bias

So much so about work-life balance, right? That term is not exactly feasible in reality, and when it comes to personality there’s no debate.

Who are we to say or condemn people for being who they are? Someone who values work-life balance, meaning a lot of leisure time next to work, will consider highly industrious people as workaholics, bad extreme examples to show kids. Because they don’t see life this way. Because they are differently wired.

On the other hand, a conscientious person with a lot of industrious traits, but also with orderliness, will consider life wasted if he or she doesn’t feel useful. They won’t get much of a tan in the summer. Well, maybe if they work outdoors or are farmers. Even in their leisure time, they help out cleaning dishes, getting the trash out, or organizing tables. They just need to feel useful.

So, it’s good to be empathic and understand people the way they innately are. Things can change and some traits increase or diminish over time, but not as much as skill learning or unlearning.

Why do we need the productivity indicator?

Considering Price’s Law that consistently proves accurate for a variety of jobs, 50% of work is done by the square root of the number of employees. This can be staggering if you do some counting right now on paper. You’ll then be amazed how even the smallest increase in productivity can bring a huge ROI back.

Darius Foroux

I want to make sure you take this away with you so let’s do some math. I’ll exemplify with salespeople because they are a perfect fit for Price’s Law.

Sales reps: 10

50% quota done by: 3.16 people

Represents: 31.6%

Sales reps: 100

50% quota done by: 10 people

Represents: 10%

Sales reps: 1000

50% quota done by: 31.6 people

Represents: 3.16%

Isn’t this alarming?…and crazy?

As you increase the number, things get out of hand. The way we would call it at Aecho is that you gave free rides to free riders. The biggest group creates the lowest productivity. I’ll detail in a future article why, but for now, remember this.

You cannot just take productivity for granted, or conscientious traits for that matter. With the smallest increase in productivity, you can scale profitability, ROI, and any other economic outcome for your organization.


Life is a mystery and we oftentimes find ourselves in a Matrix where there is no solution to exit. But sometimes, even the most peculiar laws of the universe reside in math and some useful stats.

My advice, use them even if you don’t understand them. :)

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Cristina Imre

Quantum Wins Business Coach & Mentor for Startup Founders, Entrepreneurs, Executives | Serial Entrepreneur | Legacy Builder