Values-Based Recruitment: All You Need to Know

Values-Based Recruitment: All You Need to Know

If you have a valid driver’s license, chances are that you consider yourself to be an above-average driver. However, the reality is that not everyone is. Now, why am I mentioning this in a blog about recruitment? Because similarly when making hiring decisions, we all think we are pretty good at picking the best people for our teams.

You are most definitely familiar with the terms “hiring for culture fit, training for skills”, however, what you probably fail to realize is that hiring for cultural fit can result in immense homogeneity within teams. If not done correctly. Now you might be wondering why – because you mistaken culture fit with affinity instead of values-alignment. 

That’s where values-based recruitment can come to the rescue.

In this blog, you’ll learn all about:


What is values-based recruitment

Values are all about money, right? Now, hold on for a second and put your sales sorting hat to one side for a minute. ‘Value’ in this instance has absolutely nothing to do with money. 

Unless we’re talking about making a mishire as a result of value misalignment between a new hire and the company 😉 . 

Instead, it is all about your ‘core values’, as a person or in the case of recruitment – as a company. 

Values-Based Recruitment describes a process where organizations intentionally recruit staff who align to the organizational and team values.

With more traditional approaches to recruitment, you might be focused primarily on what someone already has, such as qualifications or experience, rather than why they did something or how they felt about it. 

Experience is something most companies still (desperately) rely on when hiring someone because it feels like the safest indicator of hiring success. Or maybe it’s just because we’ve always done it this way. And as we all know, old habits are very, very hard to come back from. 

What tends to happen is that we end up hiring for experience, and then firing for behaviour and value misalignment. Now let me ask you the following – why would you hire for experience if you fire for behavior/personality? If that aspect of someone most often makes or breaks your hiring success, then why would you not focus on getting better insights into that?

Values-based recruitment makes values and culture the primary focus, with skills and experience secondary. 


What are values?

A company’s values define how employees collaborate, what kinds of investments the company will make, what types of people the company wants to hire and retain. 

Core values are the beliefs, philosophies, and principles that drive your business.

They impact how your team interacts and collaborates, but also the shared work mentality, as well as the ethical standards.

So, core values help you as a team to have a shared goal, as well as some guidelines on how to achieve this goal. Especially in a remote situation, the importance of living up to your core values has become crucial.

To determine what are the values detrimental to your company, it’s important to do what is often referred to as Values Mapping. 

A values mapping template allows to translate these into values and beliefs that can be used in an everyday work environment. This entails asking different team members what they think your organization's goals, strengths, and guiding principles are to identify personal goals, strenghts & assets, weaknesses & risks, rules and activities. As well as common goals.


This entails asking different team members what they think your organization’s goals, strengths, and guiding principles are. Once you’ve done that, make sure to translate these into values and beliefs that can be used in an everyday work environment. 


Some examples of company values are transparency, loyalty, accountability, quality, trust, passion, teamwork, continuous improvement and learning, customer orientation, integrity, and so on.

It’s really up to you to define which values are the most integral part of your organization. Because after all – there is no one size fits all. At the end of the day, making sure that everyone is aligned in terms of values is crucial to creating a business that is successful in the long run.


Core Values: Example Template

Core values can be mapped out by using this template in which you describe the execution of this core value, goal of this core value, required skills to execute this value and the required behaviour for achieving the goal.


From core values to measurable traits: The Challenge

The hard thing about core values is that we tend to make them idealistic. And that can easily lead to abstractness. Of course, you could have core values like ‘be flexible’ or ‘learn fast’, which you can directly translate into measurable traits – namely the flexibility and learning ability.  However, that does not apply to all core values.

Let’s take an example. Here at Equalture, we find it very important that each and every team member not only feels that there’s room for giving their opinion and think critically but also actively participates in strategic discussions. In terms of core values, you could call this ‘Involvement’.

Now, it’s great to have a core value such as ‘Involvement’, but how to reveal this during a hiring process?


Reveal underlying behaviours and competencies: The Solution

In order to reveal these more abstract core values during the hiring process, the first step is to reveal the underlying behaviors and competencies. Now, let’s take ‘Involvement’ as an example here again.

Ask yourself the following two questions to reveal the underlying skills and behaviors:

  • What skills are required in order to execute this core value?
  • Which behaviours are necessary in order to achieve the goal of this core value?


So, for Involvement, someone needs the following skills and behaviors:

  • Critical thinking (skill). Why: when willing to participate in strategic discussions, you should be able to understand a challenge and think about the different options to solve this challenge.
  • Flexibility (behaviour). Why: When willing to have an impact on decision making, you should be able to switch strategies if it turns out that your current strategy isn’t working. Also, we are a startup company, so environment is changing constantly, making it critical for people to be able to interpret new contexts  and adjust accordingly..


Why you should consider implementing values-based recruitment 

The benefits of implementing values-based recruitment go beyond just making sure that every new hire is on the same page. In fact, it offers a multitude of other benefits as well.

6 advantages of using values-based recruitment
Positive work environment
Improved staff morale & motivation.
Increased employee engagement 
Increased productivity
Reduced employee turnover & improved retention
Employer Ambassadors. Hiring individuals who are aligned to your values and love working for your company, will rave about your organisation which helps not only your marketing and employer brand, but also can serve as an important way to attract more great people to join your team.


4 challenges when adopting/implementing  a values-based recruitment approach

Most good things in life tend to come with their own set of challenges. This is also true when it comes to implementing values-based recruitment. Here are 4 challenges that you might face when trying to get started with implementing values-based recruitment.

Challenge 1. Values in theory vs in practice

Codifying values is one thing, however, understanding how they are attached to workplace behaviors is something else. That’s why it is extremely essential to be precise when describing and understanding what each of these values means in practice within the workplace.

Of course, everybody is different, every business is different. What really is key is having clear values or principles that you stand for as a business, believe in, and find important. 

If your value is transparency, and you are not being transparent throughout the hiring process, for example, about salary expectations – that means you are not practicing what you preach. Values should be attached to behaviors so that every candidate understands the detail behind what is expected of them.


Challenge 2. Too little time to explore values

Even if you’ve decided to give values-based recruitment a go (and you definitely should),   it’s important to remember that similarly as with fine wine, this process of implementation should not be rushed.

If you devote too little time to exploring company-wide values or addressing any values that might be conflicting or unclear, you risk creating a process that will only harm your hiring quality. Eventually, the result will be misalignment with company culture. Which then has the potential negative consequences of leading to lower levels of productivity and quality of work, a decline in employee well-being, employees leaving sooner than they were hired, and decreased customer retention.


Challenge 3. Balancing between importance of values and recruitment quality

Yes, value alignment when it comes to candidate selection and making a final hiring decision is important. However, placing importance upon values should not be done at the expense of the overall quality of your recruitment process. 

Are your desired values evident in the vital touchpoints throughout your recruitment process, such as candidate screening, selection, hiring, onboarding, performance enablement, or even your exit points? If not, then it’s probably time to change this.


Challenge 4. Making assumptions based on gut feeling

Perhaps the biggest risk when it comes to values-based recruitment is making assumptions about candidates we screen. 

Imagine a situation in which you are screening candidates based on their CVs and one of your organization’s values is loyalty

You have two CVs in front of you:

  • Candidate A. Who has changed jobs multiple times in the past 2 years.
  • Candidate B. Who has been working in the same job at the same company for 2 years.

Which of the candidates you would assume is more loyal? You might assume that a candidate that has stayed in one company for longer is more likely to be loyal, whereas someone who has switched their jobs multiple times does not value loyalty. 

However, unless you actually talk to this candidate, you might end up missing out on essential circumstantial information as to why they, for example, had multiple different jobs in the past 2 years. Perhaps they moved somewhere else and the company they worked for at the time did not offer remote work as an option? Or perhaps there were other issues.

This way, based on your subjective assumptions and gut feeling of a person, you might end up missing out on some of the greatest talents out there. Without you even being aware of that…

4 challenges that you might face when trying to get started with implementing values-based recruitment: values in theory vs in practice, there is too little time dedicated to properly exploring values, balancing between  importance of values and recruitment quality is difficult, most hiring managers still make assumptions based on gut feeling when it comes to which values they find valuable.


The basics of values-based interviewing

As I mentioned previously, relying on assumptions and gut feelings regarding whether someone is a value fit with your company even before talking to them can end up being a costly mistake. 

One way to look beyond your own assumptions is by using values-based interviewing.

Using values-based interviewing will allow you to truly understand whether the priorities and values of applicants are aligned with those goals present and important within your company. Meaning what each applicant tends to prioritize when it comes to the workplace, what are the main drivers behind their behaviors and attitudes at work, what is their working ethic, and so on.


Values-based interviewing techniques

There are three techniques you can use to determine a candidate’s alignment with your organizational values: through values-based interview questions, case studies, or situational roleplay.

Values-based interview questions

Ready to start values-based recruitment, but still feeling a bit uncertain about how to assess this in interviews? Once you have a full understanding of what values are specific and absolutely integral to your business, you can then start coming up with relevant questions that can help you reveal whether these are also values that the candidates are aligned with.

To give you an idea of what this could be like in practice, let’s take the following as your core values: teamwork, integrity, and accountability. Here’s how these values can be translated into interview questions:

  • Teamwork. When you work together with a team on a task/project, describe the role that you are most likely to play within the team?
  • Integrity. Have you ever faced a situation at work where you noticed discriminative behaviour? If so, what was the situation and what did you do?
  • Accountability. Imagine a situation where you’ve made a mistake, but your superior assumes it’s the fault of someone else. What would you do?

Values-based case studies

Another technique you can use is presenting the candidates with a case that they are meant to work on independently and afterward present to you. 

By providing candidates with a real (or at least realistic) project that they were to work on as part of the job they applied for, you’ll be able to ask them a series of questions that will allow you to see whether they understood the task and what their approach to the task was like.

Values-based situational roleplay

Another method of assessing values is through situational roleplay. Now, this doesn’t mean that you have to dedicate a 45-minute interview to do a mini-play/improvisation session with the candidate to determine whether they’re a value fit. 

Not at all. In fact, it can be more practical things such as asking a candidate to, for example:

  • Give a sales pitch if it’s for an Account Executive role.
  • Present how they would handle complaints from an irritated customer if it’s for a Customer Success Manager role.

Drawbacks assessing values during a Values-based interview

We all know that the hiring process as a whole is often very prone to the impact of various unconscious biases. However, most of us tend to forget that bias can also creep in during the interview process. 

On top of that, if you do a simple google search for “values-based interview questions” then dozens of articles on how to correctly answer value-based interview questions pop up.  As well as what things to avoid mentioning during a values-based interview. So in case, you thought that values-based interviewing will solve all of your problems and allow you to get to know your candidates better, you most likely will not succeed as a result of social desirability bias


Various values-based recruitment assessments

Assessing values solely through human-based screening is not the most optimal way of doing so, as you’ve probably come to realise after reading so far (at least I hope so).

Now, although it’s great to have that at least clear, it does not add any value to your hiring process if you don’t know how to then look for these insights. In other words: How can you reveal for, preferably, each and every candidate whether they fit your core values.

I am going to provide you with two options, including the pros and cons of these two options.


Personality Questionnaires

Advantages:

  • Most of them are for free, or at least very cheap. If you want to you can technically even create your own.
  • It can be easily implemented. On the internet, you can find thousands of interview questions, for all different personality types. Just creating a list of one or two questions per personality or value you want to address and making sure that these questions are asked to each and every candidate is all you need to get started.
  • You can decide to include these questions in your interviews, but you could also include them as screening questions in your job application form, in order to collect these insights for all candidates.

Disadvantages:

  • It’s more subjective, therefore more sensitive to bias.
  • Prone to social desirability.
  • Easy to train for and fake.


Pre-employment Assessments

Advantages:

  • You can introduce assessments very early on in the hiring funnel, or even at the very start of the process.
  • It’s a non-biased, data-driven method to assess candidates.
  • It’s very scalable and doesn’t require human effort from your end.
  • Pre-employment assessments focus on personality, (soft) skills and cognitive ability, which have proven to be the best predictors of future performance.
  • You are provided with an already interpreted report for each and every candidate, in a standardised format, saving you a lot of screening time.
  • Improved overall quality of new hires.

Disadvantages:

  • It’s not for free.


Wrap Up: How to build a values-based recruitment process

Step 1. Begin by mapping out your values & beliefs

Step 2. Promote your values in job postings

Step 3. Use pre-employment assessments to evaluate your candidates fairly and objectively

Step 4. Create a decision-making committee or hiring team to ensure your hiring decisions are as objective as possible.


Values-based recruitment vs Hiring for culture fit

As you probably already know – looking for and hiring people who reflect and identify with your organization’s core values is important. Especially now that being remote-first is the new standard, these shared values serve as the magical web that keeps your team together and motivates them regardless of any physical boundaries.

However, things get a bit more complicated when people begin framing this as “culture fit”. According to a survey by totaljobs, 1 in 5 employers claim they wouldn’t hire a candidate if they weren’t the right cultural fit. 

In other words, it is easy to slip into the habit of hiring those who have similar behaviors, all at the expense of diversity and inclusion. Hiring for ‘fit’ is extremely ambiguous for recruiters, who may instead have their self-interests at heart and not someone’s fit with the organizational values. 

In fact, according to research, hiring solely based on culture fit is barely indicative of who will be the best performer at a company and end up sticking around for longer.

You may have hired someone that embraces every team social or craves that game of pool in the office with you, but being a successful employee is much more than that. At the end of the day, you are not hiring people to only have drinks with them.

You are hiring them because they value what you do as a company.

By looking for values-alignment instead of ‘culture fit’, you’re able to find people who will work harmoniously with your team without their identity, hobbies, and interests influencing decision-making. 

After all, values should be what shape your culture, not the other way around 😉 .

And in case you’d like to see how Equalture can help you with that, you know where to find us!

Cheers, Anete

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