Hiring on values: 5 tips to find the perfect employee

Written by Varouna Baroud on Saturday, 30 September 2017. Posted in Career and business

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The number one complaint among entrepreneurs is that they can’t find the right people.

That is interesting. Because when you talk to the employees they usually have a similar complaint: they can’t find that perfect boss. 

So why is there so often a mismatch? The problem is that you hire on the wrong terms!

You hire the person you like most. But did you know research shows that almost never pans out? You hire on skills. You hire the cheapest person. Or even worse, we settle for what is available at that moment. 

Even when there is a match for skills and job-related experience, that only tells half the story. When you are looking for a lasting match to ensure a meaningful contribution to your organization, it all comes down to sharing the same Core Values!

Prioritizing values over skills can feel counterintuitive. You feel prone to focus on that nice person, qualified and with the highest degree. But whereas most skills and experience can be developed, values are fairly consistent over time. Moreover, a mismatch in values can cost you a lot of money, headache and time, which can be prevented if you know what values to look for when you are hiring.  

Here are 5 tips for hiring on Values:


  1. Invest in a healthy culture & clear Core Values

You can’t hire on values if you don’t know what yours are.  New employees will always adapt to the existing culture, not to your intentions on a piece of paper. If your values are not represented in your current team, the new employee will most likely adapt to the existing situation instead of changing it.

You need to invest in healthy value-based culture first before you bring in new people!

  1. Put verbs in your values

Your Core Values need to be understood in terms of behavior by the employees as well as the managers hiring them. 

Only if you are clear on your expectations of the behavior in the workplace you associate with each value, can you do a targeted search for those behaviors while interviewing candidates!

What does "integrity" mean in the line of work you do? What attributes does an employee need to have to work with integrity in your company? How do you measure that?

Practical tip: It pays off to make a list of what value-based behaviors you are looking for during a job interview and score each participant on those behaviors.

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  1. Believe what you see not what you hear

The behavior that an applicant shows before, during or after a job interview tells you a lot about their true values. Most people have a good story, but small habits and unconscious behavior tell you more about peoples true values.

A candidate that smiles during the interview but is rude to your assistant on the telephone might not be as customer orientated as she tells you.

The devil is in the details. Make notes of those little behaviors (positive and negative) on your scorecard.


  1. Interview on values

Integrate questions on important value-based behaviors as part of your standard interview.  

Candidates that are aware of what is important to them when it comes to values, workplace conditions, fulfillment and meaningful development are less likely to be a mismatch. If their values are a good fit with yours of course.

Ask them what their value are and let them give practical examples of behaviors in the workplace that represent those values. Ask them what gave them fulfillment in previous jobs.

The right candidate usually has a clear understanding of what they need and offer to make a meaningful contribution to your company.


  1. Test for Values ( in tester)

Asking for values might not always get you a straight answer. A good candidate should have researched you and prepared their answers. Use examples of a practical situation or case history to test values. Test applicants on a case study that provide a realistic moral dilemma they could come across. What does their answer tell you about their moral standards?

Or even better, ask if the candidates are willing to do a trial day. Invite your top 2 to join you and your team on a voluntary basis for a couple of hours. It tells you something about a candidate if they are not willing to make that investment.

On the day of the tester, look for the connection with the team, are they showing the values you want to see and are they the person they promised to be in the interview. Who shows the characteristics of the person you need to contribute to the culture you aspire.

Do you have clear core values for your company? Click here to find out how you can define a clear set of core values to inspire a healthy team culture

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