We have previously written about Carol Dweck’s research on mindset and her distinction between a “fixed” and a “growth” mindset and its influence on our motivation and achievement.

The findings indicate that people in fixed a mindset tend to become so concerned with being and looking talented that they never fulfill their potential. In a study of students entering an elite university, Dweck and colleges found that students with a fixed mindset preferred to hide their deficiencies, rather than take an opportunity to remedy them – even when the deficiency put their future success at risk.

People with a growth mindset on the other hand, believe that basic talents and abilities can be developed over time through experience and mentorship. They have a healthier attitude toward practice and learning, a hunger for feedback and a greater ability to deal setbacks which causes a significantly better performance over time.


Growth mindset and recruiting

You can look for candidates with a growth mindset in a recruitment process. With that said, it is important to remember that a person’s mindset is fluid and situational. The surroundings, experience, education and personality form and affect the development of our mindset.

The five-factor model can provide a useful metric for evaluating candidates. When compared with other measures, it carries a high level of academic consensus and strong scientific support.

The five-factor model can provide a great deal of useful information about the person (and his mindset) and the test results can point to needed skills or a worldview that is beneficial to your company.

The big five personality traits are:

N: Neuroticism: The extent to which we react emotionally to setbacks

C: Conscientiousness: The extent to which we behave in an organized and focused fashion

A: Agreeableness: The extent to which we put other people’s interest above our own

O: Openness to experience:  The extent to which we seek out new experiences and new ideas

E: Extroversion: The extent to which we actively maintain contact with others


The big one score

A big five-factor model will bring you much closer to finding the right fit for your organization, but your job is to ask the right questions; How does the candidate handle and overcome setbacks? How is the candidate looking at intelligence and abilities e.g.?

When looking for candidates with a growth mindset it may be natural to believe that someone low on N and high on C, A, O, and E are most likely to have a predominantly growth mindset compared to his psychological contrast.

Such a score typically tells us that the candidate does not have strong emotional reactions to adversity. He is well organized and purposeful, he likes to network, explore new experiences and has a lot of new ideas.

And yes! A person with this score may be the perfect match for your organization. But more important are the impacts of his traits on the competencies requisite of the role. How does the candidate use his personality? What are innate characteristics and what are coping strategies?

Dweck proposed the theory of mindset as a way to understand the effects of the beliefs that individuals hold for the nature of innate characteristics. People with a fixed mindset assume that our character, intelligence, and abilities are static givens. People with a growth mindset see failure not as evidence of non-innate characteristics but as a heartening springboard for growth and for stretching our existing abilities.

These beliefs will have an important impact on how you develop your coping strategies.


Innate characteristics versus strategies

An introvert candidate may not have a natural tendency to like social events and small talking – but the innate trait is not the same as not knowing how to. In fact, this candidate can be quite effective in dealing with people or in large gatherings when this needed. The candidate can use his emotional intelligence and capture more information than a less emotionally controlled person. Small talking may not come as a naturally to an extrovert, but it is a skill that can be developed.

The five-factor model will give you an awareness of which competencies suit a person’s personality well and less well. This forms the basis for a feasible plan. A decision can be made in conjunction with the manager or coach to place people where they can both use competencies they have already mastered and give an idea of what experience, mentorship and feedback the persons needs to develop other competencies.

In this way, the manager or coach can use a person’s innate characteristics to develop new coping strategies to better contribute to the organizations’ performance and profits.

Focusing on creating a relationship between recruitment processes, performance management and competency management in the light of growth mindset will almost certainly surface candidates who would otherwise be overlooked in a recruitment process.

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