The Role of Core Values During Hiring

The Role of Core Values During Hiring

How organizations use—and to what degree employees embrace—a company’s core values says a great deal about both parties’ commitment to a shared vision. Similarly, whether an individual’s core values intersect with an organization’s core values says a great deal about how well a candidate will fit within the organization.

The intersection between organizational and personal core values is worth delving into because understanding it is vital for employers and prospective employees. Paying attention to it can help ensure that a company attracts and hires the right people and that job candidates find an employer that satisfies their needs.

In this article, I’ll focus on how companies can leverage core values when considering job candidates. In a future post, I’ll advise job seekers on what to ask during interviews to evaluate if potential employers’ core values align with their own.

First Things First: Are Your Core Values in Place?

When the labor market is hot, you need to leverage every advantage your company possesses to attract and hire top talent. One such advantage is your organization’s set of core values.

You have developed and implemented core values, right?

If you have, then jump to the next section of this article.

If you haven’t, or you’ve struggled to integrate them into your company culture, then I recommend that you read the articles below before continuing with this post.

  1. What Are Core Values?
  2. A Tool for Assessing Your Organization’s Core Values
  3. Developing Your Organization’s Core Values the DIY Way
  4. Let Core Values Guide Your Talent Strategy

You might also be interested in signing up for my daily leadership inspiration emails, which provide insight into all aspects of leading organizations more effectively.

How Organizations Can Incorporate Core Values Into Job Interviews

Consider this scenario: your company always receives a pile of applications and resumes for open positions. Generally, you believe you do a good job during the interview process, but you can’t seem to get your placement retention metrics up to where you want them.

Part of the problem may be that you’re not hiring candidates that align with your organization’s core values.

How can you avoid that mishap?

Ask some targeted questions centered on core values. There are two steps (plus an extra step for higher-level positions) involved in asking the right questions to identify a core values match.

Step 1: Make Sure a Prospective Employee Is Aware of Your Company’s Core Values.

Begin by establishing the candidate’s level of awareness about your organization’s core values.

To do so, ask the following questions:

  1. Are you aware that our organization has a set of core values that we strive to live by?
  2. Did you happen to review the core values published on our website?
    • If “Yes,” proceed to #3.
    • If “No,” hand them a printed sheet with your organization’s core values.
  3. Do any of our core values stand out for you?
    • If “Yes,” ask, “Which of them do and why?”
    • If “No,” hand them the printed core values sheet and ask them to review it briefly. Then ask question 3 again, followed by question 3a.

Those questions are designed to do two things:

  1. They provide insight into how much the candidate prepared for the interview.
  2. They provide insight into the candidate’s:
    • Level of perceived self-identification with the organization.
    • Ability to understand the meaning of the organization’s core values.

Step 2: Learn About the Individual’s Core Values.

Ask questions to elicit open-ended responses from the candidate to gain further insight into the individual’s core values. This will help you to assess their potential alignment with your organization.

  1. What are some of your personal core values?
  2. How do they show up in the way that you work? Please provide an example.
  3. Which of your personal core values best align with our organization’s core values?

Step 3 (Bonus): Ask Additional Questions When Hiring for Higher Level Positions.

Higher-level positions (i.e., not line-level jobs) warrant additional scrutiny when determining if an individual has a set of core values in tune with your organization’s core values. Depending upon the size of your company, you may want to include the following questions when a candidate is under consideration for mid-to upper-management positions, including C-suite.

  1. What is your view on the role of core values in an organization?
  2. If you were to join an organization that did not have a set of core values, how would you go about developing and implementing them? (This question will help assess their thought process.)
  3. If you have a “great employee” that doesn’t embody the organization’s core values, what do you do? (e.g., Suppose you have a great producer, but the employee doesn’t demonstrate the organization’s core value of “respect for everyone” when dealing with people they view as less competent.)

What’s Next?

I hope these steps and questions have given you some ideas about leveraging core values during your company’s interview process. For more information and practical tips, download my guide, Using Core Values to Assess Employee Fit During an Interview (with Sample Questions).  And, as always, I invite you to reach out to me with any additional questions about core values.

I look forward to hearing from you!

P.S. Be sure to check out my practical guide for job seekers, Questions Job Candidates Should Ask About a Company’s Core Values.

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