3 Reasons You Should Track Time-To-Hire (And How To Do It Right)

3 Reasons You Should Track Time-To-Hire (And How To Do It Right)

10 days. That’s how long the most desirable candidates are on the market before being hired.

Why is this a critical statistic in the HR world? Because successful companies track time-to-hire.

If you aren’t currently tracking time-to-hire, it’s a good time to start. High-demand candidates are being snapped up quickly in today’s competitive hiring market. Employers that shorten their time-to-hire gain many advantages.

What Is Time-To-Hire?

Time-to-hire is one of the most important recruiting metrics. It is defined as the number of days that pass from when you contact an applicant until you hire them. The initial contact could be the result of the candidate applying or outward sourcing.

Some organizations track time-to-fill instead of time-to-hire. The distinction is that time-to-fill starts the clock from the day you post the opening. The time-to-fill measurement can reveal slowdowns before a candidate applies. After the candidate applies, they both measure the same processes.

Cost-per-hire and quality-of-hire are additional KPIs frequently used along with time-to-hire. The three metrics help companies improve their recruiting outcomes.

Why Should You Track Time-To-Hire?

The obvious answer is ‘So you can shorten it.’ Let’s break it down.

1. Tracking Time-To-Hire Measures Recruiting Efficiency

Time-to-hire measurements are most useful when they track each step in the recruiting timeline. This allows you to pinpoint which workflows slow things down. Is it during the resume review phase? Does scheduling interviews take longer than it should? Does it take the applicant too long to complete the skills assessment?

2. Tracking Time-To-Hire Helps You Improve The Candidate Experience

A long, cumbersome hiring process is a hassle for applicants. Over half of jobseekers lose interest in a company if they believe the hiring process takes too long. Of course, ‘too long’ is a subjective evaluation. In a survey conducted by Robert Half, 4 out of 10 applicants said 7-14 days is too long! In the same survey, 23% of participants said they would wait for just one week to hear back from a potential employer.

Contrast these perceptions with real-world timelines. In some industries, the average time-to-hire is 40 days.

3. Tracking Time-To-Hire Helps You Improve Your Recruiting Processes

Companies who want to shorten their time-to-hire create a plan. A good plan will address systemic problems in the hiring process. You can’t identify the problems without tracking time-to-hire.

How Does Slow Time-To-Hire Hurt Your Business?

A lengthy hiring process doesn’t only reveal problems with your operations. It reflects poorly on your corporate culture.

‘Most of the top talent are fast and accurate decision-makers, it is highly likely that they will view slow hiring decisions as an indicator that once on the job, business decisions will be made just as slowly.’ -Dr. John Sullivan, Talent Management Expert

How Do You Measure Time-To-Hire For Multiple Job Candidates?

Hiring managers can use a calculator, spreadsheet, or applicant tracking system (ATS).  

To use a calculator, add up the number of days from initial application to offer acceptance. Record the totals in a document. When you have tracked it for several applicants, you can compare by applicable variables. These include position, department, supervisor, and job boards used. Look at the breakdown of the workflow. Which processes take longer than they should?

With a spreadsheet, you can use the built-in calculator to tally days spent in each phase. Enter each phase (or task) in your hiring process in a row or column. Enter the number of days for each phase, per applicant. Add all the cells in the ‘number of days’ to reach a total. Compare and contrast as described previously.

The calculator and spreadsheet method require manual data entry. It is tedious and time-consuming. If you are doing a lot of manual data entry, let us show you a better way.

This brings us to the ideal method.

What’s The Best Way To Track Time-To-Hire?

Since you are on the ApplicantStack blog, you won’t be surprised to learn that we recommend an applicant tracking system (ATS).

We have the perfect solution: ApplicantStack Recruit.

ApplicantStack: A Better Way To Track Time-To-Hire

ApplicantStack Recruit is an affordable, web-based solution for candidate sourcing, evaluation, and hiring.

Why Use An ATS To Track Time-To-Hire?

Companies that use ATS’ are more likely to shorten their time-to-hire. Many recruiting teams that use an applicant tracking system can hire for a position in 10 days or less!

An applicant tracking system:

  • Automates hiring processes
  • Measures their effectiveness
  • Helps you fix problems

Tracking time-to-hire is just one feature of an applicant tracking system.

How Do I Identify Roadblocks That Slow My Time-To-Hire?

In your ATS, run a report that shows how long each hiring phase takes. These are the workflows to concentrate on. Do you need to assign the task to another user? Do you need to send more reminder emails? Are you waiting too long for manager approvals?

How Does An ATS Remove Process Bottlenecks?

In many cases, your ATS can provide a solution to recruiting process bottlenecks. Suppose there is a lag time between an application and the candidate receiving a confirmation email. If you are used to writing an individual ‘thanks for applying’ email, consider using the auto-email feature in the ATS.

All you need to do is write an email and the system will send it automatically when an application is received. Create an email for each position and hiring phase. Modify your template as necessary.

Speedy Scoring

The candidate scoring process is a bottleneck for many companies. With ATS’, you create a questionnaire for each position. Score each question as appropriate. Include knockout questions that disqualify candidates. Knock-out questions help narrow the pool quickly.

When a candidate applies, they are automatically emailed the questionnaire. No lag time there. When they complete it and send it back, it’s time for the hiring team to review the scoring.

The questionnaires (and all other documentation) live in a centralized location—your web-based ATS. This is key if you’re used to paper applications.

Universal, Anytime Access

With electronic documents, each member of the team can access the system from any mobile device. The hiring manager, team lead, and department head can all review the applicant at the same time.

Each user can enter notes for all to review. Use checklists to show where each applicant is in the process. If everyone is dedicated to shortening time-to-hire, there will be no lag time here.

Intelligent Interview Scheduling

Interview scheduling can also lengthen time-to-hire. The most efficient system is for the applicant to choose a slot on an online calendar in your ATS. (Some systems integrate with third-party calendars like Microsoft Outlook and Google Calendar.)

You set up the calendar to show slots the interviewer is available. This eliminates the need for back-and-forth texts, emails, or phone calls to coordinate a time. It’s simple, yet brilliant. Best of all, it shortens time-to-hire.

Add Onboarding For A Comprehensive Solution

Time-to-hire is only half the battle. Time-to-productivity is just as critical. If your onboarding processes aren’t working, improving time-to-hire is not enough. ApplicantStack Onboard brings our 10 years of expertise to your onboarding processes.

For more information about ApplicantStack Recruit and Onboard, visit SwipeClock ApplicantStack applicant tracking solutions.



Robert Half

John Sullivan


How Do I Create a Human Resources Resume? [5 Tips to Outshine the Competition and Land an HR Job]

How Do I Create a Human Resources Resume? [5 Tips to Outshine the Competition and Land an HR Job]

Writing a Human Resources resume can be tricky. To work in Human Resources, you need to do it all. You deal with finances, benefits, and workplace laws. Recruiting is closely aligned with marketing. Working with employees requires the people skills of a social worker.

Most candidates don’t have degrees in accounting, marketing, law, and psychology. (Hat’s off to you if that’s the case!)

Writing For a Resume Expert

Writing a resume for a position in which you will evaluate resumes adds pressure as well. For one thing, you know the hiring manager scrutinizes hundreds of resumes weekly. The hiring manager has seen the best and the worst. And thousands in between. You need to demonstrate that you know how to create a great resume. Since you will be passing judgment on resumes if you get the job. This unique situation can lead to a lot of overthinking.

Let’s slow down and take it one step at a time.

How to Write a Human Resources Resume

  1. Identify your soft skills
  2. Use keyphrases from the job posting
  3. Use concise formatting with generous whitespace
  4. Take your time to craft compelling prose
  5. Make a unique version of your resume for each job

What are Soft Skills?

Soft skills are habits and behavioral traits included in your qualifications. ‘How’ you do things as opposed to ‘what’ you do. They are more difficult to quantify than technical prowess. They haven’t been validated by a degree or a certification. But they are no less important.

For example, knowing how to use Adobe Photoshop to create killer infographics is a hard skill. Holding the SPHR certification is a hard skill.

Being able to calmly mediate a heated argument between co-workers is a soft skill. Determining the effectiveness of an employee engagement program is a soft skill.

When you have identified your soft skills, you are ready to create an outline for your resume. Here are the elements of a resume:


A headline is a short phrase that captures your unique qualifications. It’s similar to a ‘value proposition’ in product advertising—but you are the product. An effective headline packs a punch. Just like a headline for an article or blog post, it should command attention. It doesn’t need to be a full sentence.

Items to Use in Your Headline

  • The number of years of experience you have.
  • The industries you have worked in.
  • Certifications or educational achievements.
  • The hard and soft skills that make you uniquely qualified.
  • HR sub-specialties you have experience in.
  • The keywords an employer would use to proactively recruit.

Here’s an example of a headline that won the job:

‘Dedicated and proactive individual with 5+ years’ experience in human resources and recruiting.’

The writer of this headline was hired at PeopleScout.

Craft your headline for the specific position. Use keywords from the job posting. Capitalize every word of your headline. It’s a headline, after all.

Here are some phrases that might work in yours:

  • Advanced Knowledge of HR Procedures
  • Ability to Solve Complex Administrative Challenges
  • Experience Optimizing Recruiting Processes
  • Managed 100+ Employee Workforce

Profile Statement (or Career Summary)

This summarizes your skills. You can think of it as a mini cover letter. Consider the recruiters, robots, and hiring managers screening resumes. If they only read the top 25% of the resume, you want to pack as much key information in the headline and profile as you can.

How is a headline different than a profile?

This is a common question because they are similar. A profile condenses information like a headline, but it’s longer. It’s also formatted with bullet points instead of capitalizing each word. You can have both a headline and a profile. Use different keywords and phrases in each.


An objective doesn’t need to be complicated or elaborate. Just state matter-of-factly the goal of your job search. Take the opportunity to add more keywords from the job posting. This means you need to tailor your objective for each job you’re going after.

If you have extensive experience, you may not need this. If it’s your first job, state your specific employment goal. Your work history may not have a lot of HR experience.


All sections should be listed in reverse-chronological order. (Start with the most recent first and work backwards.)

  • Type of degree earned
  • Honors designations, if any
  • Institution name and address
  • Dates you attended
  • Certificates/licenses earned

Work Experience and Key Results

This is where you can go into detail about your previous responsibilities. Determine the effect your efforts had on company. Focus on quantifiable achievements if possible.

For example, say ‘Reduced payroll expenses by 20%’ or ‘Increased employee retention by 32%,’ or ‘Implemented self-service HR portal and integrated it with existing systems.’

Again, if you are looking for an entry-level position, this may not be possible. Work to present your previous jobs in the best possible light. Emphasize administrative duties.

Keyphrases, Keyphrases, Keyphrases

Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) use a resume parser. This is a computer program that screens resumes for the keywords and phrases in the job posting. The first pair of eyes to see your resume are those of a robot. You have to make it past the robot before a human will see your masterpiece. Use as many keyphrases from the job posting as possible.

Use Concise Formatting With Generous Whitespace

Don’t bombard the reader with a wall of text. Make several sections. Use larger font for your headline. You want the resume to be easy to scan. The first person to look at it might only read your headline and profile.

Take The Time to Write Compelling Prose

The way you write your resume is as important as the words you use. Especially for a position in Human Resources. Every HR position requires excellent communication skills. In fact most job postings use that exact phrase. You have to demonstrate your writing skills on your resume or you will be weeded out immediately. Take your time.

Make a Version of Your Resume For Each Position

The hiring manager can tell if your resume is generic or crafted for the specific position. Think of it as an ‘answer’ to the ‘question’ posed in the job posting. And remember the keywords we keep mentioning? You know the drill.

Good luck in your job search!

By Liz Strikwerda

How to Make Your Job Postings Searchable on Major Job Boards

How to Make Your Job Postings Searchable on Major Job Boards

With over millions of job searches each month on major job boards like Monster, Indeed, and CareerBuilder, are you doing enough to make sure your job postings are searchable and stand out? When you think of Search Engine Optimization (or SEO), you probably think it pertains to online marketing and websites, right? You wouldn’t automatically associate it with job postings, but it’s just as important. Adding keywords to your job description is one way to make your job postings searchable.

Here’s how you can better optimize your job postings for better search results in three simple ways:

Do Your Research (Keyword Research, that is)

When writing your title and job description, it’s important to pick phrases that are relevant to your job posting. Phrases that are too general come with more competition and put you at risk for showing up at the bottom of the results page or delivering unqualified candidates. For example, instead of using basic phrases like “customer service” you should specify “customer service manager,” “call center customer service representative,” or “medical customer service.” The goal is to get as specific and relevant as you can to reach the most qualified audience (so you don’t have entry-level candidates applying for an upper-level position). If you’re stumped for keyword ideas, try out free keyword research tools like Google Adwords Keyword Tool to get keyword ideas.

Another way to research keywords in the job description is to look at competitor listings for similar postings and create a list of the keywords that they are using. Import your list to a free word cloud generator such as WordClouds so you can visually see the most used keywords being used.

Pick a Searchable Job Title

When creating a job title, you want to choose something that is simple and concise. Be careful not to use this an opportunity to “sell” your posting or get creative (eg: “Top Performers Wanted!” “Rare Opportunity with Great Company!”) because that makes your posting potentially unsearchable. Don’t title your job ad, “Chief Happiness Officer,” “Fashion Evangelist,” or one of these other ridiculous job titles.  To better optimize your title, include the job description with career level or job type (part-time, full-time). Including the acronym to a job title along with writing out the job itself is also important. For example, if you’re hiring for a Registered Nurse, write out “Registered Nurse (RN).” By doing this, you’ll likely catch people who are searching out both of those common phrases.

Keep the job title accurate and concise (anywhere between 5 – 80 characters), and do not write the title in all CAPS. It is also important not to include any special characters unless you are looking for a C# developer. Keeping your job title simple, yet informative will make it easier to read and find.

Optimize Your Job Description

The job description is the meat and potatoes of your posting. A search engine populates the results of listings that have the most relevance, and relevancy begins in the description of your job posting. So how can you accomplish this? Using the results from your keyword research, pick 3 phrases and use those throughout the copy in your description. By using your keywords frequently, your posting will become better optimized and more likely to appear often. It’s also important to note that while you want to be relevant, make sure you don’t over-stuff your description with keywords so frequently that it starts sounding unnatural.

Indeed offers a great resource for writing job descriptions and even offers sample templates.

Make sure to include a strong, opening paragraph to explain the job and company culture. The ideal candidate is busy and doesn’t have time to read every detail of the job description so your opening paragraph needs to stand out and “sell” the candidate on the job early on. Be honest and do not exaggerate or underplay the responsibilities. It is also a good idea to provide an idea of your company culture that might attract applicants. Not only include employee benefits, but also the cultural vibe. For example, does your office allow telecommuting? Does your office have a dress down policy? Mention any benefit that would set your organization apart from your competitors. If you want to see more on this topic see our article on Why Employment Branding is Essential for the Job Recruitment.

Optimizing a job posting can be time-consuming. If you need help with writing one or are not sure which keywords are the best for your posting, you can always consult with your marketing department for optimization help. They’ll be your best resource for helping you craft a searchable and creative job posting.

How to Recruit, Hire, and Onboard the Best Employees

How to Recruit, Hire, and Onboard the Best Employees

Recruiting, hiring, and onboarding are the three stages in the path to acquiring a happy, productive employee. At its core, each is about making a connection. A thorough understanding of the psychology of communication is the greatest tool one has in ensuring the success of this process.

How to Recruit

Find Job Candidates

Potential applicants typically fall into one of three groups: active candidates, passive candidates, and current employees. While recruiting tactics differ for each, most candidates are motivated by the same basic needs. However, the avenue for finding each type of candidate will differ.

Active Candidates

About 30% of the global workforce is made up of active candidates. These are people who are pounding the pavement (or the keyboard) in search of a new job. They may be unemployed or unsatisfied in their current position. Active candidates are more ‘traditional’ in that they can be found at career fairs and on Internet job boards. They’re checking out careers pages to see what’s available. And they’re highly motivated to find something, often as quickly as possible. Although active candidates are often seen as less desirable than passive candidates, there are plenty of brilliant people out there who are looking for a new career. A layoff or temporary unemployment shouldn’t give hiring managers pause unless there are larger problems.

Passive Candidates

This type of candidate has been on the rise largely due to social media channels. Social networking has given companies access to the information and professional details of people who aren’t necessarily looking to find a new career. It offers an entirely new area of recruiting, and there are new and different rules for how to recruit these passive candidates. The first step in recruiting a passive candidate is getting that person’s attention. In order to do that, you’ll need to understand the intrinsic motivation of that person. How? By starting a conversation.

Current Employees

Promoting a current employee isn’t typically thought of as “recruiting,” but the same techniques and strategies often apply. A current employee who is happy in his or her position may take some persuading, so the same techniques apply. These candidates can be among the easiest to recruit, and it’s one of the best ways to fill positions. Other employees will see that their colleague’s work has been rewarded, and will be motivated to work harder in pursuit of their own professional goals.

Assess Job Candidates

The usefulness of personality tests for corporate recruiting is hotly debated. While it shouldn’t necessarily be the deciding factor, it can provide advantageous information if a company knows what it is looking for. The best corporate personality test provides insights into the strengths and potential weaknesses of a candidate.

Cultural fit plays a huge role in the success of a new hire. If a candidate doesn’t feel like he or she fits in, it will be difficult to prosper in the position. Corporate culture doesn’t happen by chance. It has to be defined by stakeholders and promoted internally and externally. Potential applicants will judge a company based on the culture it portrays, which is why a clear and appealing brand persona is a must.

Hiring managers should be aware of any propensity they have for unconscious bias in hiring.  Bias is an inescapable part of being human; everyone harbors some kind of bias. Recruiters and managers need to know about any bias they are particularly susceptible to, so that they can avoid flawed logic when assessing candidates.

How to Hire

Know the Market

The job market has changed dramatically over the past twenty years. Corporations no longer hold all of the cards. Instead of remaining lifelong employees, Millennials change jobs frequently, often in as little as two to five years. Employers have to sell themselves just as much as candidates do. The key to a successful sales pitch lies in knowing one’s audience.

Know the Candidates

So what, exactly, are today’s job candidates looking for? There are dozens of articles out there covering the broad strokes. Employees want to work for companies that care about work-life balance, that are giving back to society, and that share similar values. There are also basic needs the recruitment process must meet. Will the candidate make enough money to live nearby? What kind of job security is offered? Once these essentials are guaranteed, recruiters must figure out how to recruit a candidate based on that person’s unique goals.

The hiring process should be a dialogue. The company and the potential new hire are each seeking something out of the relationship. Want to know how to get a candidate to accept a job offer? Make sure the offer is tailored to what that person wants from a career. The only way to discover that is to ask!

Know the Needs

It can be tempting to cram an incredible person into a role that just isn’t the right fit. That’s not to say that a brilliant person shouldn’t be snatched up when one is encountered. However, that person may need flexibility within the role to exercise his or her brilliance.

By the same token, companies often tend go overboard on their lists of ‘requirements’ when writing a job posting. This can discourage wonderful candidates who may be perfectly qualified for the position. Assess the needs of the position with a critical eye and determine which qualities contribute to success. Does the receptionist really need a college degree, or is an outgoing, people-pleasing personality more of a priority? Be realistic and open to candidates who don’t precisely fit the profile to find those diamonds in the rough.

How to Onboard

Onboarding is an ongoing process. But those first few weeks are key to successfully integrate a new hire into a company. Onboarding new employees is a group effort. A new hire is taking on not just different job duties, but finding his or her place within a small group. “Office politics” aren’t optional, as much as one might wish them to be. Instead of fighting it, companies should teach new employees the informal norms as well as the written rules.

Mentoring programs, lunch and learns, and socialization opportunities are critical to help new hires find their niche within the larger spheres of their departments and the company as a whole. Onboarding can start well before the first day of work. Onboarding software takes care of the paperwork, signatures, and information dissemination so that the new hire can get going from day one.

Like corporate culture, onboarding is going to happen whether it’s intentional or not. Companies need to control and formalize the onboarding process so they can help new hires succeed.  When a company develops strategies around how to recruit, hire, and onboard a new employee, the processes should be seamless and cohesive. The trick is to retain the human element. Human resources and hiring managers are not going to be automated anytime soon. Give each applicant a chance to stand on his or her own merits, tailor an offer to the individual’s needs, and check in frequently for a successful onboarding experience.

Ten Tips to Succeed

      1. Sell the Company. Applicants have options. What’s the unique selling proposition? And how does it match the needs of the applicant?
      2. Try Multiple Avenues. Superstars can be found on LinkedIn, at career fairs, and in the office.
      3. Use Data. A flooded inbox is overwhelming. Online applications, pre-screener questionnaires, and resume keywords can score and rank and unqualified candidates. An applicant tracking system does much of this automatically.
      4. Stay in Touch. Communication is key. (Did we say that already?). Stay in touch with past applicants. Respond to current applicants to keep them abreast of what’s happening. Thank applicants for their time.
      5. Avoid Bias. Bias takes many forms. Recruiters need to be aware of their own.
      6. Don’t Underestimate Active Candidates.  Motivated, interested applicants take time to reach out to the company. That’s worth a second look.
      7. Communicate. Candidates shouldn’t slip by just because they aren’t getting what they way. Encourage applicants to talk about what works (and doesn’t work) for them.
      8. Analyze Needs. Know what the company wants before listing the job. Job postings overloaded with must-haves rule out candidates who may be perfect.
      9. Promote Corporate Culture. Company values can be a determining factor in whether or not someone applies for or accepts a job. It can persuade someone to accept an offer. And it sets the stage for successful (or unsuccessful) onboarding.
      10. Stay Engaged. New hires need nurturing. Check in regularly with the employee, manager, and colleagues to ensure that everything is going well.


    1. Following these simple tips can make a difficult situation easier all around. The power dynamic isn’t easily navigated, but mutual respect (and communication!) can lead to happier outcomes.
Is Professional Networking Important?

Is Professional Networking Important?

Job openings today are frequently hyperspecialized, making it even harder to identify and hire qualified talent. Your network – and your colleagues’ networks – can be one of the best sources for applicants. For candidates who are experts in a certain area, professional networking is especially important. Finding a niche job opportunity can be tough if you’re still searching the classified ads à la 1999.

If you’re a recruiter, you need to know the basics of how to recruit. First, connect with all of your hiring managers on social media. That gives you access to 2nd- and 3rd-level connections who may have the skills you’re searching for. A professional networking profile on LinkedIn isn’t an option for recruiters and hiring managers; it’s a must have. Expand your reach every day. Encourage hiring managers to use these platforms to share best practices, ask for advice, and get ideas.

Do you utilize professional networking to advertise a job opening? One survey found that 14.7% of talent mangers see Facebook and LinkedIn as the most effective channels of communication for recruitment. If even one of your connections shares a job opening with his or her network, you’ve increased your reach exponentially. As an added bonus, these network audiences are likely more targeted, since they are often colleagues or professionals working in a similar industry. This is a great way to identify qualified passive candidates as well. An applicant tracking system can simplify professional networking by posting open positions to your social media sites. The job is typically posted as a status update, giving you access to thousands of candidates simultaneously.

Professional Networking Beyond LinkedIn

Don’t limit your efforts to social media. If you have the resources, reach out to your connections. Cold calling doesn’t have to be painful. If you’ve never done it – or thought you’d never have to do it – now’s the time to start. It’s a lot easier than you think and can be met with great success. Write yourself a 30-second elevator speech, practice on some coworkers, and start calling passive candidates. The script is helpful to make sure you are saying the right things and asking the right questions.

The upcoming generation of applicants grew up in the age of social media and technology. Professional networking is standard procedure for them. Fluid and versatile knowledge in every kind of social and professional networking is a necessity for all recruiters and hiring managers. Stay on top of your social networks, post regular updates, and reach out! Remember, one good turn deserves another. Even if you don’t see an immediate benefit, you should be eager to help a stranger out. You never know when that person might become a valuable connection.

The Corporate Personality Test You Should Be Using

The Corporate Personality Test You Should Be Using

Are you an ENTJ? A Loyalist? Stronger in Activation, Command, or Ideation? Perhaps you’re an Advocate, a Maestro, an Inquisitive Innovator, or an Architect. Each of these labels comes from a different corporate personality test used to segment applicants and employees. The ultimate goal is to find the right person for the right job. But with dozens of personality tests out there, how do you find the best corporate personality test?

We turn to the science of psychology for the answers. The division of personalities into ‘types’ originated with Hippocrates in ancient Greece. The five-factor model of personality grew to its current form in the early 1960s. It is also called the OCEAN model, the Big Five, and the Five-Factor Model (FFM). Each outlines a person’s place on a spectrum of five traits.

The Big Five

There are several tests available to measure these traits. Some involve hundreds of questions, although one corporate personality test claims to need just five questions. This corporate personality test presents a list of statements, such as “I pay attention to details.”  Applicants note how strongly they agree with each statement. The final tally places the individual on the spectrum of each trait.


Openness describes how receptive someone is to new experiences. An open person is inventive and curious. A less open person is more consistent and cautious. There is no “right” or “wrong” place to be. People who are more open to experience would be good at creative careers and jobs in which they have higher autonomy. They are self-motivated, always looking for new ways to improve methods. Want someone who will shake things up and think outside of the box? Find an open candidate.

A less open person is methodical, data-driven, and motivated to work through a difficult task. He or she is practical and likes daily routine and clear job duties. Jobs in finance or technology can be good for those who are low in openness.


Is your candidate efficient and organized? Does he or she seem more easygoing and relaxed? The best candidates fall somewhere in the middle. An overly conscientious person may have a hard time making decisions. He or she might focus on minute details in pursuit of perfection. On the other hand, spontaneity can lead to carelessness. A highly conscientious individual is self-disciplined and reliable. Research has found that conscientious people are more empathetic, as they think about how their actions influence others. They set goals and reach them, making them good at sales.

People who score low in conscientiousness might be better suited for creative jobs or careers with mutable duties. They roll with the punches and won’t miss a beat if something changes at the last minute. Jobs in social work can be good for those with this trait.


Extroverted people are energetic and enjoy attention. They like a wide breadth of activities and are quick to make connections with others. Extroverts crave stimulation through interaction. Introverts prefer to spend time alone and may be seen as reserved or shy. They are energized through calm, peaceful moments rather than social engagements. Extroversion is often seen as the preferred side of the spectrum, but introverts have strengths, too. While extroverts might be a better choice for careers requiring teamwork or daily contact with others, introverts are well suited for careers in which success depends upon their own actions. They are observant and think before they speak. An introvert might make a good writer, mechanic, or pilot.

Most people aren’t one or the other. Instead, they’re ambiverts. Candidates in the middle of the spectrum know when to assert themselves, but are also able to observe, listen, and work on their own.


This measure is a reflection of how much social harmony means to someone. Will he or she compromise for the sake of peace? Again, this is an asset in some careers but can be a liability in others. Agreeable people are team players. They are altruistic, willing to sacrifice for the greater good. Less agreeable people put their own interests first. This might be an asset for entrepreneurs or start-up CEOs. These leaders tend to be more transactional rather than transformational. A disagreeable person will stand up for his or her own opinions. He or she might be more willing to take chances on a long shot, despite discouragement. An agreeable person is easier to work with, but may not fight for an idea if it causes conflict.


Neuroticism is often thought of by its inverse, emotional stability. Neurotics are prone to negative emotions like anger, fear, and depression. At face value, it seems like this should always be a negative. Who wants a pessimistic person on the team? People who are not neurotic are calmer, less stressed, and more stable. So, are there any jobs out there for the more neurotic applicants? When paired with a conscientious attitude, neurotic people channel their worries into hard work. They do well in the academic world. A neurotic person has a tendency to brood, so they’re good at spotting potential problems. Don’t just reject a candidate who scores highly in neuroticism. That person is actually well suited to certain kinds of work.

One criticism of The Big Five is the self-reported nature of the questionnaire. Participants may skew their answers to get a “better” score. Remind your candidate that there are no right answers. Traits that are an asset in one job may be a liability in others. Throughout the interview process, use your candidate’s responses to validate results. Learn more about how to recruit the best employees!