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Impress interviewers with your growth mindset

A ‘growth mindset’ could be one of the workplace’s most valuable attributes: a belief that you can always gain more knowledge and skills through hard work and open-mindedness. And it’s something that won’t go unnoticed by employers: nearly three-quarters (73%) say they value a willingness to learn over existing skill sets.

 

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We’ve outlined how you can cultivate and communicate your growth mindset to unlock new job opportunities and power your career.

In the face of mounting skills shortages, new ways of working and disruptive technology, organisations are more willing to hire professionals who don’t have all the technical skills, but instead show a desire to learn and push past their perceived limitations. This is good news if you have a growth mindset – or a willingness to develop one – but how do you communicate this attitude to a potential employer?

Give your interviewer something to think about and showcase your growth mindset with these six steps:

 

1. Do your homework before the interview

Flipping an interview from being just another process to a learning opportunity will show employers you’re serious about both the role and learning new things. But this requires some research first.

Prove you’re curious in the company you want to work in: study their mission statement, latest news, products, competitors, and wider industry insights. As well as demonstrating your proactivity, you’ll likely come across as a more confident candidate, and be better prepared to communicate your growth mindset.

 

2. Prove you’re a problem solver

Employers crave core skills, and problem solving is no exception. Before your next interview, be ready to tell your interviewer how you tackled a specific problem from start to finish. Explain how you dealt with any difficulties along the way and what you learned from the experience.

Don’t worry if you didn’t solve the problem completely – what matters to the interviewer is that you are willing to explore different avenues, that you don’t give up easily and that you have learnt from the experience. 

 

3. Convey your commitment to learning

Stanford Psychologist, Carol Dweck, advocates "the power of yet": the awareness that while you might be lacking a certain skill or competency, this doesn’t mean it’s out of your reach. A passion for learning new things, and not being limited to what you already know, is key to a growth mindset.

Get across your hunger for self-improvement by detailing the different events, ICAEW courses, books and other upskilling opportunities that you’ve engaged with, plus the learning outcomes you achieved as a result.

To really show your interviewer that you’re committed to self-improvement, consider asking a question of your own: how does the company support the learning and development of its employees, and what opportunities are there to gain new skills?

But what if your employer has already made these opportunities clear? Having back up questions in place is always a smart idea…

 

4. Ask smart questions to show your curiosity

Every situation is a learning opportunity – even a job interview. Asking well-prepared questions – ideally those that are relevant to the role, open-ended, and positively phrased – is a great way of showing your hunger to learn.

For example, you could ask about the culture and values of the company, or what their future goals and ambitions are and what role you will play within them. You’ll not only be demonstrating your engagement, but visualising your place in the organisation.

Remember though, avoid asking questions that are purely centred around yourself, or that could have been discovered from your research in step one.

 

5. Admit your failures – and what you’ve learned from them

An astute interviewer may be more interested in a time you failed rather than succeeded. After all, it’s failure – and specifically how you reacted to it – that reveals so much about a person’s mindset. Being able to reflect on both successes and failure is key to learning, but discussing the later can be trickier.

When planning for your interview, be prepared to evaluate a failure you feel comfortable talking about. Avoid blaming anyone else or making excuses for your mistake – warning signs of a ‘fixed mindset’ – but instead take full ownership. Tell your interviewer how the failure happened, what you learned from it, and what you did differently next time. By doing so, you’ll be turning a past failure into a future win.

 

6. Let them know you’re happy outside your comfort zone

The world of work is changing faster than ever. We all need to adapt to emerging technology, evolved ways of working, and new skills requirements. That often means being comfortable outside your comfort zone – but how do you show this at an interview?

Have an example of when you tried a new strategy or method that helped you grow. For example, perhaps you decided to brush up on your AI (artificial intelligence) literacy, by visiting the AI hub on icaew.com and introduced tech into your workflows. Or maybe you challenged yourself to volunteer in a role you’ve never tried before, through a volunteer role on ICAEW Volunteers, making new contacts, and gaining new skills in the process.

 

The interview is just the beginning…

Vital to a growth mindset is the awareness that it’s a continuous journey. In this spirit, and where suitable, it’s worth considering what action you can take after an interview.

This might include a follow-up email to your recruiter, thanking them for their time and expressing your interest in the role. Alternatively, you may ask a question that you didn’t get the chance to ask. While you don’t want to spoil what may have been a positive interview experience, a willingness to engage with your employer outside the interview stage could set you apart from other candidates. 

But what if you still didn’t get the job? Don’t let that discourage you; see it as an opportunity to learn and improve your performance for the next time – and remember ‘the power of yet’.

And if you did get the job, congratulations! But your growth mindset shouldn’t stop there. Keep learning and preparing for your first day, and prove to your employer that they made the right choice.

There’s no doubt about it – to succeed in tomorrow’s world of work, we all need to channel our ‘learning power’ and adopt a growth mindset more often. Keep in mind the above steps in your next job interview, and position yourself as someone who can help take a business forward and facilitate innovation.

Explore our latest roles on ICAEW Jobs today.

And find your ‘growth mindset’ by exploring the virtual CPD Conference | ICAEW on Tuesday 2 July 2024 and the three free courses below.