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ZD Guides: 6 Questions To Assess How A Candidate Aligns with Your Company Values

30th October 2023

Why do values really matter as part of a candidate assessment? And what type of questions would you ask a candidate to ensure they are a good fit for your organisation’s culture? Here’s the ZD Guide.

Why values-based recruitment matters

Value-type interview questions have (probably) been part of your candidate assessment process for a while now. In fact, they’re so much a part of the recruitment landscape that it’s easy to forget why they became such a big deal in the first place – so let’s have a quick recap.

Once, retail interviews were about skills, qualifications and experience. Those elements still matter (particularly skills and experience). A candidate’s values may be a perfect match for your organisation, but if they don’t have the skillset to be an ops manager, buyer or warehouse lead, chances are you won’t be hiring them.

Yet values can be crucial in helping you assess if a candidate is a good fit for a role. They matter because when workers feel their values mesh with those of their employer they are happier, more productive and more engaged[1]

. They take less sick leave. They exhibit more ethical behaviour[2]. Crucially, workers who share their employers values are more likely to stay[3]., and while we’re (obviously) all too happy to help you find talent to fill your recruitment needs, you’d probably prefer it if you didn’t have to recruit quite so much.      

The culture interview question you won’t be asking…

“Tell us about your values.”

We’d suggest you steer well clear of this question.

Values are something people show rather than tell. The question above invites a candidate to tell you what you want to hear, yet you’ll have little idea from the answer whether they put those values into action.

In contrast, a high value interview question should encourage the candidate to share stories of when their values played a pivotal role in their decision making.

Taking things a stage further, assessment centres can be a valuable tool for exploring the values candidates actually exhibit (rather than merely saying they do). 

What can values-based recruitment questions reveal?

Value/culture interview questions paint a picture of how a candidate will connect and engage with customers and colleagues.

They might show teamwork, trustworthiness, compassion, leadership, accountability and more. These are all potentially valuable, of course, but before you begin the candidate assessment, there’s a vital first step you need to take – because the interview isn’t about assessing whether a candidate possesses some values; it’s about finding out whether they share your values. 

Before you start considering culture interview questions for candidates…

…You’ll want to have a clear understanding of what your organisational values are. You’ll almost certainly have these written on the website or on the wall, but it’s important to have them clearly framed in your mind, so you know not just what the values are, but what they mean.

Then, you’ll want to craft some questions that will help reveal those values.

What are good interview questions about values?

There are lots of high value interview questions you could ask as part of the candidate assessment. Here are six that our clients tell us can be among the most revealing:

  1. What would you say is your biggest work achievement?
    In addition to giving the candidate a chance to showcase some important, role-relevant skills and experiences, there’s a strong cultural element to this. Do they recognise the contributions of others? Do they emphasise their role as part of a team, or do they relegate others to the background and claim all the glory for themselves? Do they have the self-awareness to be able to look back at their actions with a critical eye? Do they exhibit pride in a job well done?
  2. Tell me about a disagreement you’ve had with a colleague. How did you resolve it?
    What makes this such a good values-based recruitment question is that it gets straight to the heart of how a candidate will deal with something they’re likely to face every day: conflict.
    It uncovers their ability (or lack of it) to listen to an alternative point of view and perhaps calm a tense situation. It shows you how they handle a disagreement in a constructive way. For an organisation which has mutual respect or teamworking as core values, there’s arguably no better way to uncover them.
  3. Tell us about a time you showed great leadership skills?
    Naturally, the candidate’s leadership approach and capability is what you’re looking at here, but (depending on the example they choose) there could be so much more wrapped up in this, including communication, empathy, assertiveness, strategic thinking, and the ability to motivate others.
  4. Tell me about a time when you faced a difficult choice at work?
    If your values include ethics, trustworthiness or the ability to make sound judgements under pressure, this interview question will help uncover it.
  5. We all have tasks we prefer over others. How do approach tasks you find less appealing?
    A good question for revealing drive and motivation, work ethic and the ability to self-start and self-manage.
  6. Give me an example of how you’ve dealt with challenging feedback in the past.
    This question helps explore emotional intelligence, the willingness to listen and learn, and the fortitude to take criticism on the chin. It’s a guide to someone’s ‘bouncebackability’, and while you probably don’t have that specific word as one of your core values, you may well have ‘resilience’ of something similar.

Let us help with your values-based recruitment.

Brand fit is a quality we’ve been recruiting for for more than a decade. When you want great candidates who won’t just do the job but fit seamlessly into your organisation, we’ll find them.

Talk to us about candidate assessment and the culture interview questions that can help make your recruitment more successful. Talk to us now.

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