hmm, 'spiritual growth' is always possible on any level, but the concepts that are used that guide the consciousness accepts and can comprehend. "Death" isn't reserved just for the end of the physical life, but 'death' is merely a transition, or rather a significant change. It happens everyday, and everyone experiences it. A new beginning or a new life begins sooner or later. Its not impossible that those who are born into the physical vessel for a purpose, to achieve a higher level of existence and consciousness. Though the work and energy put forth to do so is long and hard, but that depends on the individual's decision of its worth. There throughout their life, they will experience transitions of sorts, so they will be able to get to each level to learn and grow. However, that is if they choose so.
For your last question, no, not always, as nobody can really judge a book by its cover so to speak. Although, there are those who are more knowledeable and skilled in reading people, and understanding where each person stands.