Honesty and humility are undoubtedly key qualities in responsible individuals, but a new study says that being honest and humble will also help you land – and keep – a job. According to a press release from Baylor University, where the research was conducted, it’s the first formal study to link honesty and job performance.
Researchers from Baylor surveyed 269 employees in 25 different companies across 20 states; the employees all worked in positions that provide health care for challenging clients. Supervisors of the employees in the study then rated the job performance of each employee on 35 different job skills and described the kind of customer with whom the employee worked. This allowed the Baylor researchers to examine which personality variables were associated with job performance ratings. Supervisors scored employees who showed more honesty and humility significantly higher for job performance. (And if you’re unclear as to what constitutes these qualities, the researchers defined honest and humble people as those who show high levels of fairness, “greed avoidance,” sincerity and modesty.)
In announcing the study, Wade Rowatt, associate professor of psychology and neuroscience at Baylor, said that researchers already knew that integrity was a predictor of performance, but that humility and honesty are actual measurable components. “This study shows that those who possess the combination of honesty and humility have better job performance. In fact we found that humility and honesty not only correspond with job performance, but it predicted job performance above and beyond any of the five personality traits like agreeableness and conscientiousness.”
The study’s researchers suggest that companies should pay more attention to honesty and humility when screening applicants, particularly for care-giving roles. Megan Johnson, a Baylor doctoral candidate who conducted the study, said, “Honest and humble people could be a good fit for occupations and organizations that require special attention and care for products or clients. Narcissists, on the other hand, who generally lack humility and are exploitative and selfish, would probably be better at jobs that require self-promotion.”
It’s an interesting – if not intuitive – finding, and certainly one to keep in mind on your next job interview.