Pre employment assessment, intelligence testing, 360 degree feedback, growth mindset...

Talent beyond personality

Co-authored by Maria Bach, Consultant for HUCAMA Group


Understanding the meta-talent above personality 

We have previously written about a 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 research has shown that people with a fixed 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, which ensure that they constantly challenge themselves and grow. Years of research in motivation and achievement theories has shown that a growth mindset fosters a healthier attitude toward practice and learning, a hunger for feedback, a greater ability to deal setbacks and significantly better performance over time.


Belief, Effort, and Growth 

An important point in the mindset theory is that people with a growth mindset know that not everyone has the same potential or can be exactly who they want to be. They understand that abilities are always a product of nature and nurture. They understand that everyone, even the biggest athletes, would not be this successful without years of passionate and dedicated practice. They understand that everyone needs feedback and inspiration on how to do things in new ways.

growth mindset

For some, failure is the end of the world;  for others, it is an exciting opportunity.

This openness to feedback and the look at talent and abilities as not static givens gives people with a growth mindset a significantly better performance over time.

So why not begin today by implementing the ideas of growth mindset in your organization?

Research shows that organizations who help employees to develop a growth mindset will be better at at unleashing their people’s full potential to better contribute to their organizations’ performance and profits.


Meta Talent and the big five traits 

What about growth mindset and recruiting? How do you find the right talented candidate with the right mindset?

Before you get started you need to remember that a person’s mindset is fluid and situational. The surroundings, experience, education and personality forms and affects the development of our mindset. You create conditions for and build knowledge around the meta-talent. Talent is not a person but a mindset.

With that said you need something to start the recruitment process and may we suggest the five-factor model. The five-factor model provides a useful metric for evaluating candidates. When compared with other measures, it carries a high level of academic consensus and strong scientific support. And understanding personalities is critical for personal growth and success.

The five-factor model can provide a great deal of useful information about the person and the mindset. The big five personality traits are quite valuable and can point to needed skills or a worldview that is beneficial to your company.

The big five personality traits are:

  • N: Neuroticism  
  • C: Conscientiousness
  • A: Agreeableness
  • O: Openness to experience 
  • E: Extroversion


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 figure out what meta-talent the candidate has. How does the candidate handle and overcome setbacks? How is the candidate looking at intelligence and abilities?

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/her psychological contrast.  

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

And yes! A person with this score may be the perfect match for your organization. But remember; mindset is largely something bigger than the five-factor score. You need to figure out how this candidate uses his/her personality.  

A personality test is a guide but it is only one part of the hiring process. More important are the impacts of their traits on the competencies requisite of the role. And in light of this, it is quite important to know the difference between coping strategies and innate characteristics.  

Dweck proposed the theory of mindset as a way to understand the effects of the beliefs that individuals hold for the nature of intelligence. 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 unintelligence 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/her 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.  

In a growth mindset you believe that you can use your innate characteristics to develop your coping strategies. 

You as a recruiter must remember the fact that anyone can learn, not just those with the desired personality traits.  You create conditions for and build knowledge around a talent meta level. Considering someone’s potential and coping strategies to improve will almost certainly surface candidates who otherwise would be overlooked in a recruitment process.   

You may find an even better match for the organization when you use the five-factor model to better understand the candidate's meta talent. 


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Topics: growth mindset