What Are Personality Traits? (Definition, Examples and Tips)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated 27 October 2022 | Published 22 November 2021

Updated 27 October 2022

Published 22 November 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Personality traits are a key consideration for many employers when hiring. Employers generally look for candidates with positive traits, such as being confident, dependable and responsible. Whether you're new to the workforce or looking for career advancement, learning about the personality traits hiring managers frequently look for can give you a higher chance of success. In this article, we explore what personality traits are, provide examples of personality traits, discuss their importance and show you how you can showcase your personality traits to gain success when applying for a new position.

What are personality traits?

If you're preparing for an interview or reviewing your resume, you may wonder, 'What are personality traits?' They're characteristics that describe how a person thinks, feels and acts. When two people are put into a similar situation or faced with the same problem, they don't necessarily react in the same way. Their reactions are in part motivated by their personality traits. For example, someone who is optimistic has a positive mindset and may see challenges as an opportunity for growth.

Personality traits are different from moods. For instance, you may experience an external factor may have caused you to feel upset one day at work, which caused you to be quiet during a meeting. This is a mood that can affect your behaviour in the short term. Personality traits define a person's consistent behaviour.

Related: 8 Personality Interview Questions (With Sample Answers)

Examples of personality traits

Personality traits manifest into behaviour, feelings and thoughts. People often form their perception of you based on how you display your personality traits in different situations. If you consistently demonstrate positive traits, people around you may likely form a better impression of you. Here are some positive personality traits and when others may use these traits to describe you:

  • Responsible: When you take responsibility at work, you're accountable for its successes and failures.

  • Dependable: You're perceived to be dependable when others can count on you to complete your tasks. This is important when completing group work because it shows your team members that you value and respect their time.

  • Meticulous: You're meticulous when you emphasise accuracy and produce work that is error-free.

  • Competent: You're competent when you have the capabilities to achieve your work goals or exceed expectations. This is an important trait in the workplace because it shows that you can perform your daily job duties effectively.

  • Optimistic: You're optimistic when you see positive aspects of difficult situations and view challenges with a positive attitude.

  • Fair: You're fair when you're not affected by biases and treat everyone equally.

  • Humble: You're humble when you stay modest about your achievements.

  • Sociable: You're sociable when you have an outgoing personality and enjoy meeting new people and making new friends.

  • Honest: When you answer questions truthfully, you can show others that they can trust and rely on you.

  • Reliable: You're reliable when others can depend on you, especially in difficult situations.

  • Well-tempered: Having a good temperament means that you can handle frustration well in the workplace. This means you can stay calm and manage stress effectively.

  • Flexible: You're flexible when you adapt and accept change. This can help you complete new responsibilities and manage challenges.

  • Friendly: Being friendly means that you welcome others and help create a more positive work environment.

  • Considerate: Being considerate means you think about others' thoughts and feelings. This can help you develop strong connections with your colleagues and clients.

Related: 50 Positive Traits to Demonstrate in the Workplace

Why are personality traits important?

When people with different personality traits work together, it can affect the work environment. For example, if a team has members who take the lead and others who play supporting roles, they can complement one another to achieve work goals. A team that recognises the personality traits of different team members can utilise the strengths of each member to work towards team targets.

Being aware of your personality traits may also be helpful when looking for a job or choosing a career. For instance, when introverted people take on job roles that require an outgoing personality, they may feel it takes extra effort to adapt to the job demands. Your personality is one of the key factors that determines your career success and job satisfaction. It's therefore useful to understand your own personality traits. Showing these traits on your resume or in an interview can also help increase your chances of earning the role.

Related: Examples of Weaknesses: Top 7 Things to Share in a Job Interview

Which personality tests can help you determine your personality?

There are several personality tests that evaluate your personality traits. They typically ask a series of questions and use your answers to deduce what category of personality you belong to. These tests may help to identify your personality type, skills and strengths. Some of these tests are available online, either free or paid.

Here are some types of personality tests:

  • Myers-Briggs type indicator: This test divides personality types into four categories: introversion vs extraversion, sensing vs. intuition, thinking vs. feeling and judging vs. perceiving. There are 16 personality types depending on which side of the spectrum you lean towards for each of these categories.

  • Big 5 personality test: This test measures your personality along five dimensions: extraversion, agreeableness, conscientiousness, neuroticism and openness. You receive a score for each of these dimensions after completing the test.

  • DiSC: This test groups your personality style into four categories: dominance, influence, steadiness and conscientiousness. Your personality may cut across different categories, but most people usually have one or two dominant styles.

  • Keirsey temperament sorter: This test identifies four basic temperaments: artisan, guardian, idealist and rational. Each temperament has its unique qualities and strengths.

  • The Birkman method: This test uses colours to group people into four personality types: red for doer, green for communicator, yellow for analyser and blue for thinker. It measures your work strengths and behavioural styles.

Personality tests may offer insights into how you are likely to perceive situations and deal with problems, but the reliability of the results depends on how honest you are with your answers when doing these tests. You may have given answers which do not fully reflect what you think or feel. While these tests may be accurate for some people, they're not the sole predictors of your personality.

Related: 18 Types of Personality Tests With Professional Applications

Can you change your personality?

Even though personality traits are mostly inborn, you can adjust your behaviour to display more positive traits so that negative traits don't overshadow your overall personality. For instance, if you like having control over decisions, you may take conscious steps to welcome feedback from others or adopt a more consensual decision-making approach. If you feel that you're introverted, you can try to expand your social circle in small steps, such as getting to know new people through your existing friends.

As you grow older, your personality type may also change due to changing circumstances or different life experiences. For example, you may become more outgoing over time as you meet more people. Developing your skills can also help you develop or strengthen your positive personality traits. For example, if you want to be more sociable, developing your communication skills can help. You may take a course on public speaking and gain practice in the workplace to help you further enhance your traits.

Tips on how to highlight your personality traits

People around you may make conclusions about your personality traits based on their interactions with you. If you're looking for a job, it's useful to highlight your positive personality traits to potential employers. Be sure not to misrepresent yourself though. Make an effort to show your true self and be honest.

Here are how you can highlight your personality traits when applying for a new role:

On a CV

On your CV, include your positive personality traits when describing yourself and your previous work experience. For example, if you view yourself as meticulous, write that in your CV and give examples of how you displayed that trait at work. Highlight how your traits helped you to achieve your work targets. Refer to the job advertisement and match your personality traits to the job requirements. Be sure to provide examples to substantiate what you write.

During an interview

The job interview is an opportunity to discuss your positive traits. Talk about how your personality traits helped in your work and your interaction with colleagues. Employers may also ask how you view yourself and what you think are your negative traits. They want to know if you have a good understanding of your weaknesses and how you manage them.

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