Why You Should Be Hiring People With Grit

Imagine a company where the demands of work is immense; where the environment is complex and challenging. What qualities should an employee have for him to be able to handle the pressure?

Employee turnover is an ongoing concern for many companies around the world. Turnover rates can be extremely costly, it can impact employee engagement, and company-wide productivity. It is but proper that employers make the right decisions when it comes to recruitment. One notable characteristic elevates quality candidates from the rest—grit.

If the environment in your company is demanding then grit is important.

Based on a research by Paul G. Stoltz, he equates one quality – grit – with higher chances of succeeding, being hired and being promoted. He defines GRIT as growth, resilience, instinct, and tenacity. Put simply, grit is mental toughness. It’s the ability to work our way through a tricky situation.

When interviewing candidates, here are four helpful ways you can utilize grit when the situation calls for it, and separate the “gritty” candidates from the rest.

1. Growth: Stepping up in a sticky situation

One component of mental toughness is asking a candidate how they would deal with an issue that their senior might probably face. Will they sink or swim? This requires growth.

When you’ve established competence in the core requirements of the role, you can take it up a notch and ask candidates to exercise judgement on a certain issue. It could be dealing with suppliers, resolving a customer complaint, or presenting to senior management. They don’t have to excel in this test, what’s important is for you to see their willingness to take on a challenge.

2. Resilience: Handling failure

Failure is inevitable. At one point or another, a person or a business will experience defeat in life. In startup communities, failures are commonly discussed, and often celebrated. But one vital thing about it is that startups fail fast, learn and move on. This requires resilience.

Ask candidates for an example of failure in their careers.  Give them time to tell the story their own way. The important thing to look for is what they did next and what their attitude was to overcome that failure.

3. Instinct: An unhappy customer

In any kind of industry, you will always have customers. And often times those customers will be dissatisfied with your product or service. They will be unreasonable. And in this world, the customer is always right.

Now, put your candidates in a high-pressured, customer-facing situation, where they are required to use their instinct and forced to make a difficult decision. And because customers want answers fast, give them a time limit. To identify a good candidate, they will usually respond to these demands with composure and will make the customer feel important and valued.

4. Tenacity: Going outside your comfort zone

There are instances in life that we are pressed to do something outside our comfort zones — cold calling a potential client, asking a person for a date, approaching a stranger in a networking event. These are situations that make us anxious, and experience the awful feeling of rejection. But we do it anyway. This requires having a tenacious attitude.

Take your candidates outside their comfort zones, and give them an obstacle which will spark fear and see if they can overcome it. One challenge is to tell them that the final stage of their interview process is to call a senior executive in the company and convince him/her why they are the best candidate in 60 seconds.

If you incorporate an assessment for mental toughness into your hiring process you will learn a lot about your future employees’ character.


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