So You Think You're Curious?

So You Think You're Curious?

How Our Own Perceptions Match (or Don't Match) Our Behaviors

“Easier said than done!” We’ve all heard the adage countless times, but let’s examine the language behind it. The saying contains an undeniable truth. We see this disconnect in all sorts of situations. For instance, verbally committing to a healthier lifestyle is quite different from changing behaviors to eat better and exercise more. 

Similarly, in hiring practices, managers might wonder if the way that candidates portray themselves will translate to success in the workplace. If candidates describe themselves as organized or state that they work well in teams, will that really be the case? 

In conducting extensive research on the state of curiosity in workplaces around the world, Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany saw an opportunity to perform a rigorous examination of how this idea applies to curiosity. Specifically, we investigated whether there is a correlation between individuals’ self-identification as curious and exhibiting curious behaviors: the difference between self-proclaimed curiosity and real curiosity. 

Our State of Curiosity Report found that when it comes to workplace curiosity, it is easier said than done. In our survey of individuals in Germany, China, and the United States, participants who identified themselves as curious in the workplace scored only in the average range (65.7) in our Curiosity Index metric (when compared to individuals who did not describe themselves as curious). 

This mismatch between what one says and what one does can have a particular effect on hiring practices around the world.

Kristen Hamilton, co-founder and CEO of the business-training program Koru has insights into how to hire for the qualities you are looking for, specifically curiosity. In a recent FastCompany.com interview, she discussed the interview tactics and questions that she uses to reveal true indicators of success, not simply self-identified traits.

When interviewing for curiosity, Hamilton says the questions that you ask the candidate can be incredibly helpful in identifying truly curious job-seekers. Inquiring about an instance when a candidate “geeked-out” about a topic, ideally unrelated to work, can be indicative of curiosity.

Hamilton says it shows passion about something that a candidate was not told or required to research. Additionally, according to Hamilton, an interviewer should not have to ask a curious candidate if he or she has any further questions. Curious individuals should and will ask for themselves.

So, what does this mean for perspective candidates? How can you, as a job seeker, know if you are truly curious or if you just think you are? By understanding what exactly it means to be curious, we can take steps toward improving individual curiosity and exhibiting behaviors that truly embody this trait. Read our State of Curiosity Report to learn more about our definition of curiosity and the four dimensions of curiosity.

Do you take advantage of time to innovate at work or seize training opportunities? Do you suggest novel ideas at work and try to bring them to life? Do you explore new topics and collaborate with others on your team?

To better understand your personal curiosity, take the Self-Test and find out just how curious you are in your workplace and in which dimension of curiosity you score highest.

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