How do you ensure that the people you recruit share your company values, not only in the words that they say but in their actions and behaviour?

It is beneficial for both companies and candidates to ensure that their values are aligned yet company values are rarely used to guide recruitment. Traditional approaches to recruitment look at the qualifications and experience but not necessarily at how people approach their work and colleagues, or why they behave as they do and yet a person’s behaviour is a reflection of their values.

It has long been recognised that effective leadership requires emotional intelligence and that people who are technically competent are not necessarily inspirational leaders. So they may get the job done but the way they manage others might result in tensions that waste time and energy. The important elements here are not only how people approach situations but why they behave as they do.

Let us be clear. You will still need to ensure that those you are recruiting have the necessary qualifications, experience and competence to do the job in question but beyond that you are looking to ensure that you recruit people whose values align to those of the company. Employers miss this factor at their peril.

On a practical level, values based recruitment means adjusting the processes involved in everything from role design and personal specifications to how applicants are interviewed and then inducted into the organisation. For example, a company might continue to use similar tools as before, such as structured interviews or situational judgement tests, but the questions or scenarios presented to the candidate would be designed to elicit information around values and behaviour.

The NHS is currently including more values based recruitment in its selection processes following the much reported cases of nurses lacking compassion. The recruitment process may include, for example, group discussions or Q&A sessions with service users to establish candidates’ levels of compassion, empathy and integrity which are the kinds of values that make the difference in the delivery of care and support services.

Recruiting people with these values is about having the right people in place from the start that will not just do the right thing but do it in the right way.

It is probably not as hard as you think to include a measure of how likely someone will fit with what your business is aiming to achieve. If company and individual values are aligned the new recruit will produce better results and stay with the company for longer.

So how can we develop values based recruitment?

  • Be clear on what your company values are and what behaviours you are looking for

If you have clear values you are able to identify the behaviours that reflect those values. You are then able to apply these to the recruitment process. One example might be the value of “respect” so the behaviours you might look for are listening skills, giving feedback, praise and recognition in group tasks or challenges. If you are looking for team work you may want to see how a candidate collaborates with others, shares information and ideas.

It is important that the company values are embedded throughout the business so that when a new recruit starts work they are not faced with differing value sets or culture to that being promoted at the recruitment stage.

  • Build on interview questions

Use questions at job interviews that ask candidates to give examples of how they have behaved in the past. For example, if you are exploring the value of integrity you may ask questions along the lines of: “Please give an example of a situation where you have spoken up because you had concerns. What was the outcome? How did you feel about making a stand and about the outcome? If it was successful, why do you think it was successful?”

Values based interviewing is a structured means of exploring examples of applicants’ work behaviours, rooted in organisational values and behaviour. It focuses on how and why the applicant has made certain choices in their work and explores the attitudes and reasons underpinning their behaviour.

By incorporating this information alongside an applicant’s experience, skills and competencies, the recruiting organisation can gain a wider and more comprehensive view of the applicant in order to recruit high-performing, effective staff that are more closely aligned with organisational values.

  • Set real tasks and challenges that demonstrate how people approach their work.

One of the best ways of seeing whether a person can do the job is to ask them to tackle a particular task that involves interaction with others. In the education sector, teaching candidates are often given a classroom of children to teach whilst under observation. So, if you are looking for an inspiring leader why not ask them to meet with a team of employees to discuss and agree on an action plan or to take part in a Q&A session. In this way you are able to observe not only whether the task gets completed but how the task is completed and you will also have the opportunity to receive feedback from other team members who took part in the exercise.

  • Consider a range of recruitment tools

Another tool that might be used in the recruitment process is a personality profiling questionnaire to provide you with some behaviour indicators and points to discuss at the interview. In addition, role play scenarios can be used to assess how candidates might respond to situations.

  • Collect feedback and refine your approach

You will obviously be keen to review and refine your approach to values based recruitment and one way to do this is to ask candidates for their feedback on the recruitment process.

When you have more application forms than you can manage from candidates with top-notch qualifications and years of experience, values based recruitment can be a crucial tool in differentiating between those that will do a good job and those that will do a great job whilst caring about how they go about their work and how they interact with others.

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Sheena offers a range of HR, organisational development and performance management services and is a Chartered Fellow of the CIPD.
She has more than 20 years HR experience working closely with CEOs and MDs to develop, articulate and communicate the business vision and values to employees.