Featured In: American Express Open Forum | How To Hire With A Growth Mindset

October 10, 2017

Photo courtesy of Getty Images

Photo courtesy of Getty Images

How To Hire With A Growth Mindset

By Kelly Ehlers

At rapidly-growing companies, it may feel like you’re always hiring. While recruiting isn’t necessarily in the traditional skill set of a business owner, this challenge can help your company take shape. Approaching the hiring process with a growth mindset may lead to simple, successful talent acquisition.

How your business's culture changes can be defined with the growth mindset or the fixed mindset. You’ve likely witnessed them in your own experience running a business. With a fixed mindset, intelligence is static. With a growth mindset, intelligence can be developed and we're allowed to learn from our mistakes. Success itself is less of a finish line and more of a work in progress.

From the C-suite, you can see both the big picture and the countless small steps you took to get there. However, long-term growth isn’t always easy for employees to visualize. New employees in a fast-growing company may require guidance when it comes to learning that success doesn’t mean going from entry-level to executive overnight. It’s up to employers to help establish an infrastructure that rewards engaged employees who are constantly working towards their personal best—and that can begin as early as the first-round interview.

Before interviewing your next candidate, consider the following:

1. Define your company culture with a growth mindset.

Before you can judge if someone will fit your culture, it helps to have a thorough understanding of the current cultural ecosystem. Look into what’s working, what isn’t and where your company culture is heading. This can lend perspective and can help the company strategically evolve.

When hiring with a growth mindset, each new team member arrives equipped for their job, but also open to growing with the company. Cultural fit and the potential to grow into a role can be as relevant as a candidate’s past work. This can be especially true in a growing company with small, closely-working teams.

During the interview, be open-minded in identifying potential because it can look different in each candidate. My motto is to only work with nice people. Sure, it’s tongue-in-cheek, but when you take the time to develop relationships with clients and employees, it can pay off.

2. Avoid stereotypes of millennial's work ethic.

You may have heard the generalization that millennials are lazy and unmotivated, but I have found that to be far from the truth—they’re simply motivated differently than their generational predecessors. Try to get a sense of the interviewee’s work ethic by asking about results-based experience

Innovation doesn’t just spring from a good resume—it’s sparked by a sincere drive to discover, create solutions and re-think industries.

Motivation can fuel a work ethic, and millennial employees are often so plugged-in that they may be more likely to work overtime, according to a 2017 survey, by staffing firm Accountemps. In their survey of more than 1,000 American workers ages 18 and up, only 38 percent said they didn't check their email at all during summer vacation, compared to 52 percent of 35 to 54 year olds and 60 percent of respondents 55 years and older. 

Keeping that in mind, you may gain employees who are wholly committed to delivering the best services to your clients.

3. Find out what motivates your potential hires and if they have a growth mindset.

Rapid growth may lead to turnover, but high attrition rates aren’t necessarily linked to your business practices. In a growing company, adaptability is necessary, and a willingness to pivot is important.

During interviews, ask questions that can indicate if the candidate is aligned with the direction the company is going in and open to growing with the company.

Identifying motivators for current and potential employees can be valuable for thoughtfully navigating turnover and retention. When your company evolves several times within a fiscal year, it’s important to maintain your infrastructure and keep in touch with employees’ needs.

4. Conduct exit interviews to help retain your existing employees.

Remember that rapid growth can affect retention. For some employees, the shift may feel stronger than others. Each time someone leaves the company, it’s important to facilitate a dialogue about why they’re moving on. Exit interviews can help you keep that experience in mind when hiring the next employee.

5. Look for hires who demonstrate curiosity.

Executives are prioritizing one trait in their hiring pools: curiosity. A curious employee is an engaged part of the team, according to Merck’s 2016 State of Curiosity Report. Based on responses from 3,000 respondents in China, Germany, and the United States, 84 percent said that it was "the curious person who is most likely to bring an idea to life at work." However, only 9 percent of those surveyed felt they worked in a cultural environment that was "extremely encouraging of curiosity."

Employees who are driven by curiosity may demonstrate the abstract traits we are told to look for, like being “self-starters” and those who “think outside the box.” How do business owners seek out and sustain these traits? When identifying curiosity, consider looking for candidates who demonstrate critical thinking and problem-solving. Consider the questions they ask and if the root of the question is arbitrary or driven by an interest in learning. Does the candidate seek autonomy, collaborative brainstorming and professional development opportunities?

Remember: Innovation doesn’t just spring from a good resume—it’s sparked by a sincere drive to discover, create solutions and re-think industries.

6. Set the tone during your first interview.

The interview sets the stage for not only your first in-person impression of the candidate, but also their initial experience with your company. Instead of glossing over topics like the stereotypes on millennials, give interviewees the opportunity to share their thoughts and experiences by directly asking them about specific topics. By addressing that topic, you’re demonstrating your interest. You're also showing that you value their perspectives while also providing them with a chance to show their range of insight. When they explain their experiences, listen for their passion to come through, and ask what the results were.

Consider these five points before going into to your next interview, and you’ll be on the path to welcoming employees who will be a fit for your growing company.

Kelly Ehlers is the President of Ideas That Evoke, a social media and PR agency. She is also a member of Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC)

View the full American Express Open Forum Article here.