Values-Based Hiring: Core Values Interview Questions & Tips

An employee’s fit at a company is essential for sustainable, long-term success within an organization. Yet, employers often get “fit” wrong. According to reports shared by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), many employees leave their job within the first year of employment, and leaving due to poor job fit is one of the top reasons.

Due to the high cost of turnover and recruiting, organizations need to ensure they hire the best fit for the position. One option is to begin thinking of “fit” in terms of values fit vs. culture fit.


Hiring for Culture Fit vs. Values Fit

Where culture can be a vague term that’s challenging to define within an organization, values are clear and concise descriptions of what is important in how the business operates. Beyond being mere theoretical beliefs, core values reflect long-term objectives. Company values define:

  • The kinds of investments the company will make to support its employees and customers
  • How employees work together and collaborate
  • The types of people the employer desires to hire and retain

Hiring based on your company’s values instead of hiring for culture fit is an excellent way to better ensure employees will continue to succeed.


Job interview goes well


How to Hire Based on Core Values

By incorporating core values interview questions into the hiring process, you’ll be better able to understand:

  • If a candidate’s priorities support and align with your goals
  • What drives their work behaviors
  • What candidates prioritize while at work

When developing values-based interview plans:

  • Incorporate situational and behavioral questions that can demonstrate if candidates’ behaviors align with the business’s values
  • Adjust your questions to fit the organization’s values and any additional values of departments and teams for which the position will support
  • Combine values-based questions with competency-based questions to create complete candidate profiles for objective recruiting decisions

You also want to consider how to communicate your core values to applicants. Doing so will give the candidate a chance to determine if your values align with theirs. You can share core values through handouts, verbal discussions, and job postings.


Core Values Interview Questions

Here are some core values interview question examples broken out by common company values. Refer to these to help you create your own for your values-based interview.

Value: Accountability

Example Questions

  • Tell me about a successful team project you were a part of. What was your role and contribution?
  • How would you respond if you received negative feedback on a part of a team project that was solely your responsibility?


Value: Collaboration

Example Questions

  • What would you do if you were assigned to a project manager you didn’t like?
  • Describe a time when your team completed a project late. What would you do differently if you could do it over again?


Value: Customer Focused

Example Questions

  • Describe a time when you had to deal with an upset customer. How did you respond and handle the situation?
  • How would you respond to a customer who walks into the store right before closing?


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Value: Innovation

Example Questions

  • Share an example of a product you believe is well designed. What features does it have, and what makes it unique?
  • Share a time when you had a technical challenge and needed to troubleshoot more than once to resolve the issue. What was the result?


Value: Integrity

Example Questions

  • Describe a time you faced an ethical dilemma at school or work. How did you handle it?
  • What would you do if you saw a coworker stealing printer paper from the stock room?


Value: Social Responsibility

Example Questions

  • What company policies would you recommend to support environmentally friendly operations?
  • If a supervisor asked you to do something unethical, how would you handle it?


employees working together


How to Promote Core Values in the Workplace

Now that you have value-based hiring practices down, it’s time to ensure your current employees are clear on what your company’s values are. Core values employee engagement can only occur if the values are frequently communicated and consistently practiced. All staff, from entry-level to executives, should share and promote the organization’s core values.

Some tips for communicating company values to employees include:

  • Clearly defining your values
  • Determining and sharing how each value translates into behaviors
  • Posting your values in several places, including handouts, wall posters in common areas, the company website, etc.
  • Conducting values training for employees


For additional guidance on employer hiring strategies and more, visit iHire’s Employer Resource Center.

By iHire | March 14, 2022