How To Assess For Conscientiousness - Atomic Hire Blog
Articles Candidate Assessment

How To Assess For Conscientiousness3 min read

February 5, 2019 3 min read


How To Assess For Conscientiousness3 min read

Reading Time: 3 minutes

An individual with a conscientious personality is generally described as being mindful, empathetic, aware of their actions, careful, and organised. When it comes to job performance, all of these traits can be very beneficial for a future-proof employee and that’s why it is relevant to understand the different forms of conscientiousness assessment.

conscientiousness at work

The term conscientiousness is part of the Big Five personality traits, including extraversion, agreeableness, openness, neuroticism, and conscientiousness. But digging deeper into the psychological understanding of conscientiousness reveals a selection of sub-traits.

  • Self-efficacy
  • Orderliness
  • Dutifulness
  • Achievement-striving
  • Self-discipline
  • Cautiousness

Each of these sub-traits is important in predicting future job performance and can be evaluated in recruitment assessments as core elements of the conscientiousness dimension. There are a variety of measures to allow hiring managers to delve deeper into the evaluation of this important personality trait.

Self-Report Personality Test

Generally represented as explicit measures, a test of this kind involves the participant completing a personality test without the presence of an employee, and usually in their own time. This type of test has been used to predict mortality, wealth, criminality, disease progression, divorce, relationship functioning, as well as numerous indicators of well-being and psychopathology.

Therefore in correlation with job performance, a self-report personality test can be designed to support hiring decisions based on the respective answers. However in comparison to other methods of assessments, this type of test is more simplistic, but will be a more cost-effective strategy.

Implicit Association Test

“The value of self-report measures seems limited for psychological attributes that are introspectively inaccessible or outside of conscious awareness” (Gawronski & De Houwer).

To overcome these limitations, psychologists have developed alternative methods that reduce the participants’ ability to control their responses.

A common implicit measure involves an IAT (Implicit Association Test), whereby two categorisation tasks are performed, one that is compatible with the psychological attribute, and one that is incompatible. In its simplest form, an IAT can involve the presentation of pictures and words, with the assessment of matching the two dependant on their psychological attribute. Due to the more controlled method of assessment, this type of test may be more costly to customise for a specific role, however, can provide solid predictions for conscientiousness.

Experimental or Behavioural Measures

Research indicates these assessments can be organised into three specific behaviour categories; impulsive decision making, inattention, and disinhibition.

Impulsive decision making can be assessed in a variety of ways and is usually valued as highly important when hiring for management positions. However, inattention is generally tested through the participant’s ability to maintain alertness over a period of time, while disinhibition can be assessed by the participant’s ability to inhibit unwanted behaviours.

Each category of behaviour can be tested through different scenario examples or reactive situations, and are usually performed in an interview setting. These types of measures are highly customizable and can be created without a costly fee, however, can sometimes be more suited to specific roles dependant on the specifications.


To conclude, it must be noted that conscientiousness, as with all personality traits, is best in moderation. High levels of conscientiousness can lead to perfectionism and reduced spontaneity due to high expectation, which could be seen as negative traits dependant on the role specifications. However, by using any, or a combination of, the above methods of assessment, a hiring manager will have the best chance of understanding a participants levels of conscientiousness.
Interestingly, according to what psychologists term the ‘maturity principle’, traits such as conscientiousness tend to increase as we grow older. Aside from a slight decrease between early and mid-adolescence, we grow more conscientious with age. Therefore, maybe we should just wait until we’re all a little more conscientious.

Atomic Hire Recruitment Tool
Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *