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Effects of Applicant Personality on Resume Evaluations

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This study examined the extent that personality information in resumes impacts hiring judgments through applicant’s resumes. Study 1 examined lay theories regarding relationships between resume cues and the applicant’s personality and hireability. Study 2 examined how the applicant’s personality impacted hiring judgments through resumes.


Data for both studies were collected in the context of a managerial position. For Study 1, participants assessed resume cues in regards to their relationship with personality and hireability. For Study 2, Human Resource personnel evaluated each resume in regards to personality and hireability.


Results for Study 1 highlight several connections between applicants’ personality and resumes, with strong links between resume content and perceptions of conscientiousness and agreeableness. Results for Study 2 indicate that personality was largely unrelated to ratings of hireability but perceptions of personality were strongly linked to hireability; actual personality was linked to the variability in cue information related to hireability, and conscientiousness was indirectly related to hireability through judgments of conscientiousness.


Results from these studies suggest that personality and perceptions of personality play a greater role in resume development and screening than has been previously suggested. The pattern of results reported suggest that there are a number of resumes cues that accurately reflect an applicant’s personality and influence perceptions of hireability.


By taking an exploratory approach, the current studies were able to explore a large variety of cues linked to personality and ratings of hireability. Results have implications for both applicants and HR personnel evaluating resumes.

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  1. Note that multilevel regression produces unstandardized regression coefficients. Hox (2010) presents a formula (2.13, p. 22) to derive standardized coefficients from the unstandardized coefficients. This is accomplished by multiplying the unstandardized coefficient by the standard deviation of the explanatory variable and dividing the product by the standard deviation of the outcome variable. As these regression results are computed with one explanatory and one outcome variable, the resulting standardized coefficient is analogous to a correlation controlling for the multilevel nature of the data.


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Correspondence to Gary N. Burns.


Appendix 1

See Table 4

Table 4 Resume cues and hireability information used in studies 1 and 2

Appendix 2: Example Cue Rating Form and Instructions from Study 1

In the following survey, you will answer questions about specific cues found in resumes, and how they are related to an applicant’s personality and hireability. Below is an example of how you will answer each question. Please follow these directions exactly how we present them.

On each page of the survey, you will be presented with one resume cue. Below this cue will be a matrix table (see example below).

The first column of the matrix table includes personality adjectives. First, start with the first row (e.g., extraverted) and work your way across the columns of the matrix table from the left to the right.

The second column asks “Is this resume cue related to the following adjective?” At this time you will answer whether you think the resume cue “Applicant’s name” is related to the adjective “Extraverted.” You will check either “Related” or “Unrelated.”

Then you will move on to the third column which states “If you checked Related, what type of relationship is it?” At this time if you checked that the resume cue “Applicant’s name” was related to the adjective “Extraverted,” you will check whether it is a “Positive” or a “Negative” relationship with the adjective.

Lastly, you will move to the fourth column which states “If you checked Related, how strongly is this resume cue related to this adjective?” At this time, if you checked that the resume cue “Applicant’s name” was related to the adjective “Extraverted,” you will check how strongly it is related to the adjective, either “Slightly” related, “Moderately” related, or “Strongly” related.

Go across each column for each adjective. If you answered “Unrelated” for any of the adjectives then leave the third and fourth columns blank.

Example of question:

Resume cue:

Applicant uses sentence fragments versus complete sentences


Is this resume cue related to the follow adjective?

If you checked Related, what type of relationship is it?

If you checked Related, how strongly is this resume cue related to this adjective?







































How important is this resume cue for making decisions about the applicant’s hireability?

  • Not important.

  • Of little importance.

  • Somewhat important.

  • Very important.

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Burns, G.N., Christiansen, N.D., Morris, M.B. et al. Effects of Applicant Personality on Resume Evaluations. J Bus Psychol 29, 573–591 (2014).

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