Stuart Gentle Publisher at Onrec

Employers get personal: Research reveals the top traits that cost people the job

While skills and experience are key areas companies look at when hiring, a new survey from leading independent job board, CV-Library, and CV-writing firm, TopCV, reveals that three-quarters (77%) of employers believe personality is most important when considering someone for a job; more so than education (13%) or appearance (12%).

The survey, which quizzed nearly 200 UK employers on what they look for in candidates, found that after skills (80%) and experience (78%), organisations across the UK care most about personality, with the top turn-offs including: arrogance (65%), dishonesty (62%) and unreliability (60%). The full breakdown includes:

  • Arrogant (65%)
  • Dishonest (62%)
  • Unreliable (60%)
  • Close-minded (26%)
  • Immoral (24%)
  • Ignorant (23%)
  • Entitled (18%)
  • Self-centred (17%)
  • Short-tempered (16%)
  • Cruel (16%)

Lee Biggins, founder and CEO of CV-Library comments:

“In the current market, where skills shortages are making it harder for companies to find the right hires, employers are increasingly opting to recruit on potential over experience. Of course, every hiring manager has their own preferences, but our research shows that there are a few key areas that could jeopardise someone’s chances of securing a job and these are all traits that we as humans seek to avoid.”

Interestingly, when asked to choose between experience, education and potential, employers believe potential (62%) is more important than experience (35%); while only 2% say education is most important. 

What’s more, when asked about the traits that impress them the most when hiring, employers cite being reliable (62%), confident (61%), honest (58%), honourable (51%), loyal (32%), friendly (28%) and self-disciplined (27%) as their top choices.

Amanda Augustine, careers expert at TopCV, adds:

“Historically, assessing job seekers was contingent on two factors – experience and skills – but our new survey reveals that more intangible qualities, such as personality, are determining which candidates rise to the top.

“Today’s hiring managers are tasked with assessing whether a candidate will fit in with the company culture, and this determination is primarily based on how the candidate behaves during an interview. The fine line between ‘confidence’ and ‘arrogance’ when making that first impression is everything – one’s personality can make or break an interview.”

About CV-Library

CV-Library is one of the UK’s largest online job sites and attracts over 4.3 million unique job seekers every month. Founded by Lee Biggins in 2000, CV-Library is the UK’s leading independent online job board with a database of over 14 million CVs. Learn more at

About TopCV

TopCV, a Talent Inc. company, is the world’s premier CV-writing service, analysing millions of CVs and LinkedIn profiles each year. Job seekers work directly with professional writers and industry experts to redefine their personal brand and stand out from the crowd during the job-search process. Follow TopCV on Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram and Twitter.