Why I Hire for Grit Over IQ

Scott Schwertly
2 min readAug 10, 2016


As discussed previously, I take our hiring process very seriously at Ethos3. Just ask any one of my colleagues. Our process is littered with multiple interviews, assignments, and assessments. We want the best and the brightest so we are all about hiring slow and firing fast when necessary.

On paper, it looks like we are crazy obsessed about IQs which we are. However, if you peel everything away, we care more about grit…pure raw grit. It’s embedded in our DNA because it started with me as the Founder.

My wife and I joke all the time that she can kill me on any standardized test. It’s the truth. I’m terrible at test taking and have never really looked at myself as a smart guy. However, I work harder than most. I’m willing to wake up earlier, stay up later, and simply grind it out longer than the competition. In fact, I often bite off more than I can chew. I have always been that way and will probably die that way.

Since this is how I am wired, I naturally look for this same mindset from my team. I want them to be gritty. So, when I ran across a recent study which discussed why some West Point recruits drop out when their peers press on, I was happy to discover that a lack of grit was the cause. Basically, it’s not talent or IQ that gets recruits to the finish line successfully — it’s grit.

Additionally, Psychologist Angela Duckworth discovered something very similar in Chicago public schools. She and her colleague found:

“Self-discipline predicted academic performance more robustly than did IQ. Self-discipline also predicted which students would improve their grades over the course of the school year, whereas IQ did not.”

Here’s a a chart that showcases some of the findings from their study:

Simply, the grittier kids were more likely to perform better and graduate.

The lesson for all of us is this: if you think your talent or brains will always save you — think again. The sad reality is that guy or gal next to you may have the grit you are missing, and I’ll hire that person any day of the week.



Scott Schwertly

Mental Performance Coach for Hockey Players | Follow for sport psychology and performance tips.