Do you hire for who people will become?

Who People_ID-10066550I had a conversation about hiring practices with one of Canada’s top technology leaders and he shared with me a big mistake he made early in his career when hiring people for his company. The mistake was hiring people who had impeccable credentials and experience, but were not willing grow to help strengthen his company’s culture and business.

Their hiring practices at the time were focused on skills and abilities and he said looking back, most of their job postings belonged in the fiction section of a bookstore. Often, they would spend several months trying to find this fictitious person and when they found someone who closely matched their wish list of skills and abilities, they turned out to be great for the first 6 months, and then conflict, would erupt between team members and this person and their clients.

The issue, the new person was not growing into their role or committed to the organization’s vision and values and felt they knew everything there was to know. In the end, termination was the only option. The big lesson learned, was the need to hire people who possessed a learner’s mindset. A person who would grow and develop in order to bring value to the organization that went far beyond a well-written job posting.

Here are some suggestions to keep in mind when you are looking to hire someone who will grow into their role and your organization:

Learning mindset

Carol Dweck has spent a lifetime researching the learner’s mindset. In her book, “Mindset: The New Psychology of Success,” she shows how this type of mindset brings a tremendous amount of value to an organization. Hiring people who are continuous learners and posses a “growth mindset” is essential for a modern day workplace. This type of mindset can be overlooked when scanning through CVs, as it’s not apparent in the number of degrees and certifications a person has, but rather how they learn from challenging situations and apply new learning.


Does your potential new hire have a mentor? Great! It’s worth talking about mentoring in an interview. Why did they choose one? Why did they reach out for a mentor? The important point to note when talking about mentors is discovering if the people set-out on their own to find a mentor, or were they were assigned one through a mentoring program at their workplace. This will indicate if the person is a self-directed learner.


Does this potential new employee read? A lot? It sounds simple, yet this important fact may be overlooked. If the person is not reading consistently, then it’s likely they do not possess the type of growth mindset needed for your organization. One book per month is a good starting point. I actually learned years ago from a mentor, the power of rereading books, so about a quarter of the books I read each year, are books that have a significant amount of content that requires they be read over and over again. One such book is “7 Habits of Highly effective People,” by Steven Covey.

Learning from setbacks

How often do you see a job application asking a candidate to list their failures and what they have learned from then? Never? It’s a great interview question and it’s important to provide upfront on a CV or in a cover letter. Right away, you will discover the people who are ego driven versus people applying for the position who are willing to learn from their mistakes and grow. Ask any leader how important it is to work with people in an organization who can learn from setbacks and failures and continue moving forward.

Looking for that ideal candidate and someone who will grow and help build your organization? Then there needs to be a shift away from focusing on pure skills and abilities and instead, an emphasis on whom they will become while part of your organization.

All the best in achieving your highest performance,


Image courtesy of Ambro at