The work world is changing, and it is changing fast. So much so that the World Economic Forum has declared that we are experiencing a Fourth Industrial Revolution

Hiring people who possess a mindset that embraces this level of change and ambiguity will be key to surviving and thriving in this new market. But how do you identify them?

Lucky for us, Carol Dweck’s book, Mindset: The New Psychology of Success, helps us get closer to uncovering this kind of person. The book details two mindsets that we all possess to varying degrees. They are as follows:


Fixed Mindset

A person with a fixed mindset believes that talent is fixed or innate. For example, you are smart, or you are not smart, and adaptability, flexibility, and resilience tend to be less prevalent.  


Growth Mindset

People who have a growth mindset believe they can expand their abilities through hard work, challenge, and overcoming setbacks. People with a growth mindset are more resilient, adaptable, flexible, and demonstrate continuous learning.

Here’s a quick two-minute deeper dive: 

People with a Growth Mindset can increase a company’s ability to navigate the new, fast-moving market more effectively. In fact, Microsoft credits much of their recent successful turnaround to the adoption of a Growth Mindset throughout their culture. 


How Do You Interview for Growth Mindset?

To help you identify candidates who possess a growth mindset at work, here are four interview questions specifically focused on the growth mindset listed below. 

Pro Tip #1: Remember to check your mindset and that of your hiring team as research has shown that we may unconsciously value natural talent more than hard work.

Pro Tip #2: As the questions below are behavioural interview questions (except #4), make sure your hiring team probes for specific examples from the candidate’s past, not opinions. Ideally, the candidate answers these questions using the STAR format. 


How to hire for a Growth Mindset: Interview Questions

Question #1

Could you tell me about your biggest failures?

If you only have time for one question, this one is usually the best at revealing a growth mindset. Did the candidate take responsibility for their part, and were they able to adapt and capitalize on that failure in a way that put value back into the company?


Question #2

Could you tell me about a time when you were thrown in the deep end on something work-related? 

Watch for a response that paints a picture of the candidate as a victim. Did they embrace the challenge? Were they eager to learn something new? If it was too profound a problem, how did they approach asking for help? With anger and blame or curiosity?


Question #3

Do you have an example of a time when you felt you were not good at something at work? Could you tell me about it?

Notice if the candidate shows initiative in rectifying the situation in a healthy way. Do they give up? It may be appropriate to give up, but how they give up can show the difference between a fixed and growth mindset.


Question #4

What is a work-related book or podcast you are listening to lately? What do you feel you are getting out of it?

Learning that digs into business strategy and hard skills is good, but don’t discount people who seek continuous learning on soft, or more aptly named “essential” skills. 


A Note on Speed 

Now that you know how to identify and evaluate the growth mindset don’t forget to put on the speed so that you can compete in the world market for talent. One way many companies are quickly increasing the pool of growth-minded candidates at the interview stage is by harnessing talent referral technology such as Growth-minded team members may know more growth-minded candidates and can refer them at a faster pace through the use of a talent referral platform



While we live in a world where the fixed mindset is enhanced by media such as America’s Got Talent and sports broadcasters regularly singing, “they are a natural!” it is possible to value and identify your candidates’ growth mindset. With technology and a structured interview process incorporating questions such as the ones above, not only will you equip your company to survive the rapid global market changes today as Microsoft has done, but for tomorrow as well.