Demystifying the term: Growth Mindset

Demystifying the term Growth Mindset

We hear the term ‘growth mindset’ more and more often when it comes to interviews and it has even become part of some mission statements. But what exactly is a growth mindset and why is it important?

Tara Higgins Associate Director – Recruitment Partner with Barden Cork, and expert in Operational Finance, Business Support and Data Analytics recruitment and careers, helps to demystify what a growth mindset is, will give you some tips on ways to demonstrate that you have a growth mindset in interviews.

What is a growth mindset and where did it come from?

Having a growth mindset is often confused as being something that’s inherent – something you’re born with or that’s part of you and that you’ve either got it or you don’t.

A lot of people believe that if you are positive, flexible, openminded and enthusiastic that you are showing that you naturally have a growth mindset.

The reality is that a growth mindset means something entirely different. This is good news for those who thought they might not have it as it is something that can be learned, taught and trained.

Let’s look a little closer at the term:

The psychologist Dr Carol Dweck developed the term growth mindset and she popularised it in her book Mindset: The New Psychology of Success.

Dweck 2015 writes of the growth mindset definition:

“In a growth mindset, people believe that their most basic abilities can be developed through dedication and hard work — brains and talent are just the starting point. This view creates a love of learning and a resilience that is essential for great accomplishment.”

She describes the core of the growth mindset as:

“The passion for stretching yourself and sticking to it, even (or especially) when it’s not going well, is the hallmark of the growth mindset. This is the mindset that allows people to thrive during some of the most challenging times in their lives.”

Why is a growth mindset so important?

It’s helpful to look at the opposite of a growth mindset – a fixed mindset, to understand why having a growth mindset is so important, not just for an individual but for any organisation.

A fixed mindset is where you believe that your talent and intelligence is fixed, that we are born with a certain level of ability and that we are unable to improve our levels over time.

I think most people will be able to understand why a fixed mindset might not be ideal in a professional environment and why more and more companies are developing a ‘growth mindset culture’.

Workplaces that cultivate a growth mindset culture are often more innovative, inspired, and efficient and have a more positive culture as they encourage new ideas, employees trying new things and growing throughout their careers.

How to show you have a growth mindset in interviews:

  • Give examples of learning something from scratch, be it a new language, how to build a macro on excel, etc.
  • Highlight how you accomplished a new task that you had never done before despite initially feeling a little insecure or out of your comfort zone.
  • Demonstrating examples of times, you were resilient and kept problem solving when something challenging came up at work.
  • Show your commitment to continuous learning/ CPD/upskilling/education/training.
  • Highlight how you set goals for yourself and how you’re motivated to achieve them.
  • Highlight any failures, shortcomings and what you would do differently in the future.
  • Show how you embrace feedback and how you view this as an opportunity to learn.
  • Ask strong, well-formed questions to show you are inquisitive and curious and eager to learn more.

Hopefully this article has shed some light on and has given some clarity on what a growth mindset is and will be a useful resource when preparing to showcase your growth mindset for future interviews.


About Tara

Tara Higgins is Associate Director – Recruitment Partner with Barden. She is part of our team in Cork, and is an expert in Operational Finance, Business Support and Data Analytics recruitment and careers.

A core part of Tara’s role is working directly with professionals in the areas of operational finance, business support and data analytics, helping them to identify and map out their future career path, and secure their ideal roles. Tara will also partner with clients to build world class teams in these, and other, areas of business.

Get in touch with Tara via email or LinkedIn.

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