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Big 5 (OCEAN) personality test: Pre-employment screening assessment to hire top candidates

All tests/Personality & culture/
Big 5 (OCEAN) test
Type: Personality & culture
Time: 10 min
Languages: English, Spanish, French, Italian, Japanese, Dutch, Portuguese
Level: Entry level

Summary of the Big 5 (OCEAN) test

This Big 5 (OCEAN) personality test follows the Five-Factor Model, an empirical-based theory in psychology that evaluates five overarching dimensions of personality: openness, conscientiousness, extroversion, agreeableness, and emotional stability.

Use the Big 5 (OCEAN) test to hire

All job roles. The big 5 test should not be used for hiring decisions, but as a tool to gain a deeper understanding of test-takers' personality inclinations. The insights into personality traits can help enrich learning and development conversations.

You can use this test for free when you sign up for a free plan.

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About the Big 5 (OCEAN) test

The big 5 personality test is based on the five-factor model (FFM) theory that posits five broad trait dimensions or domains as the basis of different personalities. The model has been shaped by the work of various researchers over three decades (from the 1960s to the 1990s) who analyzed verbal descriptors of human behavior. Eventually, the long lists of traits proposed in the complicated models of early research were organized at the highest level into five overarching factors that affect a person’s personality.

Each factor is measured as a spectrum: openness to experience ranges from inventive and curious to consistent and cautious, conscientiousness ranges from efficient and organized to extravagant and careless, extraversion ranges from outgoing and energetic to solitary and reserved, agreeableness ranges from friendly and compassionate to challenging and callous, and neuroticism ranges from sensitive and nervous to resilient and confident.

The big 5 test leads test-takers on a self-evaluation of their behavior by asking them to score various statements on a scale from 1 (very inaccurate) to 5 (very accurate). The score candidates provide for each statement places them on one of five possible positions on the spectrum of each factor. The nature of the test structure is best suited to evaluating the compositions and dynamics of existing teams for learning and development and growth purposes, rather than for candidates applying to join teams.

The results provide insights into the test-taker's position on each factor and describe the personality traits that characterize their behavior. They also provide insight into their strengths and opportunities for improvement, and how they relate to others.

The test is made by a subject-matter expert

Margarida R.

Margarida is a clinical psychologist and psychometrist. Her work has focused on studying and conducting psychological evaluations on different populations across a variety of clinical settings, from pain clinics and hospitals in Chicago to state prisons in Los Angeles. Two years ago, Margarida opened her own private practice in her hometown of Lisbon, Portugal, where she now dedicates her time to developing new psychological tests, conducting research, and doing therapy in person and online.

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Use the OCEAN personality test in your hiring process

The personality of an individual is the sum of how they feel, think, and behave, and it determines how they respond to the world around them.

Since every individual is unique, personality is difficult to measure. But thanks to various theories and models, there are a few personality tests out there that can successfully tell us about various aspects of an individual’s personality.

One of these is the OCEAN or Big 5 personality test. It follows the Five-Factor Model, an empirically based psychological theory that evaluates five overarching dimensions of personality. These dimensions and their spectrums are:

Openness (O): Ranges from inventive and curious to consistent and cautiousConscientiousness (C): Ranges from efficient and organized to extravagant and carelessExtroversion (E): Ranges from outgoing and energetic to solitary and reservedAgreeableness (A): ranges from friendly and compassionate to challenging and callousNeuroticism (N): Ranges from sensitive and nervous to resilient and confident

Candidates who take the test will participate in a self-evaluation of their behavior based on these factors. Their results will indicate where they fall on the spectrum for each dimension, providing insight into their traits, behaviors, strengths, and opportunities for improvement.

Why use the test?

Personality tests are great tools for recruitment. If you use them correctly and appropriately, the insight they provide can be highly beneficial for both your organization and your candidates. Here are a few benefits of using the OCEAN personality test:

• Learn how your candidates’ personalities and worldviews align with your company’s values• Understand how you might adjust the recruitment process to suit candidates’ needs• Use the results as a basis for future training opportunities• Evaluate existing team dynamics for development and growth purposes• Improve empathy and understanding all around

When to use the test

We recommend that you use the Big 5 or OCEAN personality test right at the beginning of your hiring process after you’ve posted a job ad and have candidates rolling in. The test is a tool for understanding your candidates in more depth, and it might inform how you approach later stages of the hiring process, such as interviewing and onboarding.

How to use the test

It’s important to emphasize that you should not base your hiring decisions on the results of an OCEAN personality test. Excluding candidates based on their personality traits alone is bad practice, and diverse and inclusive teams perform better.

Instead, to get as much value as possible from the OCEAN personality test, you should use it as part of a complete pre-employment assessment. If you choose up to five relevant tests from our test library to build a complete assessment, your candidates’ results will paint an accurate and well-rounded picture of their skill sets and personalities.

You can then use the OCEAN personality test results to understand how you might conduct an interview with them, how they might approach certain projects, or what kind of working environments help them thrive.

How does the Big 5 personality test work?

Each of the Big 5 dimensions is measured on a spectrum. For each question in the test, candidates will be asked to score various statements on a scale of 1 (very inaccurate) to 5 (very accurate), where 3 is neutral. The scores that they choose will place them in one of five possible positions on the spectrum of each factor. Here are brief descriptions of the Big 5 factors:

• Openness refers to how open to new experiences a candidate is and how they feel about the unfamiliar and adventurous. Candidates who score high in this dimension are likely to be creative and open to new ideas, and those who score lower are focused and pragmatic.Conscientiousness represents how reliable and organized somebody is. A low score indicates that your candidate is a risk-taker and can be unreliable. Your more disciplined candidates will likely score high in this factor.

• Extroversion is a characteristic of talkative, highly sociable, exuberant, and expressive people, and introversion is a quality of people who are quieter, calmer, more reserved, and contemplative. Extroverted candidates will score high in this dimension, and more introverted candidates will have lower scores.

• Agreeableness denotes how easy a candidate might be to get along with. High scorers tend to be altruistic and affectionate, but they may be naïve or submissive, too. Low-scoring candidates might be more competitive or argumentative, but they’ll speak up for themselves and know when to say no.

• Neuroticism has to do with a person’s emotional vulnerability. Candidates who score high in neuroticism may benefit from calmer working conditions, whereas those who have low scores will be better equipped to cope with unpredictable levels of stress.

The OCEAN personality test takes no longer than ten minutes to complete. Once your candidates have completed their assessments, you’ll be able to see where they stand on each spectrum. You’ll also be provided an explanation of what their results mean in regard to their personality, strengths, and weaknesses, along with some tips based on their personalities.

Personality tests and skills-based hiring

In a world where great talent is hard to find and mis-hires can cost businesses as much as $240,000, hiring the best candidates is crucial for companies. Unfortunately, traditional CV-based recruitment strategies don’t make this easy. CVs are prone to hiring bias and do little to show recruiters the skills their applicants actually have.

This is where pre-employment assessments come in. When you use hiring tools that enable candidates to show rather than tell their skills, identifying the right candidates becomes much easier.

What’s more, they eliminate bias since there’s no possibility of candidates being dismissed because of their education or experience. Skills assessments drive skills-based, data-driven, bias-free hiring.

So, how can personality tests help? Despite the fact that they’re not skills based, personality tests like the OCEAN test provide you with valuable insights into your candidates as people. Once you know whether or not they’ve got the skills you need, a personality test will help you understand their strengths, weaknesses, and preferences.

The results of personality tests can be beneficial post-hire, too: Use them to determine the management style you choose for your successful candidate, or help them enhance their productivity at work.

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