Four interview questions to help you hire people with grit

Building of one's character proves to be the one most successful aspects in business

‘It’s not what you know, but who you know’ Although this phrase deems true in some ways by helping you get started in your career or perhaps opening a door of opportunity, it doesn’t always boil down to this.  Character is the defining factor that counts.  Your character as a leader, the character of your employees and the culture of your organization will put you on the path to greatness. You want people with guts, initiative, determination and perseverance on your team.

The good news is that everyone has some of these character traits and as you progress throughout your life, strength of character or grit can be built.

Co-Author of the book, Grit to Great, Robin Koval says, “Most of us have more grit than we realize,” For example, on the Grit to Great website, there is a quiz entitled “How Gritty Are You?” The quiz is composed of 16 questions which were developed with the help of a clinical psychologist and evaluation expert to validate the results, says Koval.  The quiz focuses on measuring four characteristics of grit—guts, resilience, initiative and tenacity. She explains that more than 16,000 people have taken this quiz and the results show that the majority of people fall into the two highest categories—Grit Master and Grit Super Star. Only about 15% of people fall into the bottom two categories.

“One of the things that we don’t rely enough on is our own capacity to harness our grit,” Koval says.  Older respondents generally have a lot of resilience and tenacity because you learn that through life experience, but they may not have as much guts or initiative because of fear or the feeling that they are too old, she notes. On the flipside, millennials are often more willing to take risks and have a lot of initiative because they are bursting with ideas, but tend to lack tenacity and resilience. “There are things we can learn through every stage of life,” says Koval.

Gritty people tend to think outside the box by working on a practical level to solve problems and complete the task at hand.  While grit can be learned, it’s great to have some of those “grit super stars” on your team who may not require as much training.

These individuals can be identified in the interview process by including questions centred on character.  Koval explains that it is easier to teach someone a complete new skill set than to alter already existing character traits.

Here are four types of interview questions that can help you to identify people with the drive and determination to be great and to have much-needed grit.

  1. How have you turned a dream into a reality?

In order to be a great leader in business, you need to take calculated risks.  This question can help you identify if someone has the guts to take on the challenges required to be successful. You want members on your team who have ideas, will rise to the challenge, seek out new growth opportunities and develop plans to turn these opportunities into reality. The plans will not always be successful, but learning from our failures will ultimately lead to greatness.

  1. How have you dealt with failure and bounced back from it?

The business world is a tough place to be – so it is crucial to determine the resilience of your employees right from the get-go, starting in the interview.  Mistakes will be made in business, problems will arise, projects will fail.  You need employees who can bounce back from adversity stronger, not people who give up at the first sign of trouble.

  1. Tell me about a time you had an idea to improve a process at work and what was the result? 

This question determines initiative.  You want people on your workforce who are problem solvers and have a desire to improve processes if they see fit.  More than that, you want staff members who will act on this desire.  People who will pitch an improvement to a manager or develop a plan that makes something easier for their co-workers. Having innovative ideas is not enough. It’s taking the initiative to make those ideas a reality that will lead to success.

  1. Describe a project that you had to work on for an extended period of time and how you stayed engaged?

Asking candidates to describe the project will allow you to judge their tenacity and how they saw a project through to completion.  There are so many distractions in the world today, including a constant string of email, 24/7 news channels, social media and whatever the latest craze is—Pokémon Go, anyone? Staying on task can be difficult and is one of the biggest challenges that some people face. You need employees who have the ability to focus on the task and stay engaged until completion.

Of course these interview questions are just the beginning of the process to finding people with the grit to take business to the next level.  Companies will want to focus on establishing an organisational culture that develops and encourages perseverance, initiative and tenacity. By hiring people with grit and building an organization that values it, you will be ready to overcome any challenges that may arise and your business will be positioned for success.

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