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If you have been shortlisted for your dream sales job, chances are you’ll have to face a value-based interview. This may be a formally structured part of a robust recruitment process or purely questions about your values to understand what drives your behaviours and attitudes.
 

To bag the role, you’ve got to be fully prepared for this, because showing hesitation, or trying to bluff your way through it is a huge ‘red flag’ to the interviewer.

In this article, we’ll explore-value based interviews (and value-based questions) and how you can make a great impression.


What is a value-based interview?

Put your sales hat to one side for a minute. ‘Value’ in this instance has nothing to do with money. Instead, it is all about your ‘core values’, as a person.

The interviewer will want to explore your values and beliefs to establish if they will fit in with the company’s values and long-term ambition. Sounds simple, right? Well, if you’re fully prepared (read on for tips). Succeeding at a value-based interview need not be intimidating.

Just don’t try and ‘game the system’ – a skilled interviewer will spot if you’re telling fibs to try and sound like the perfect candidate.


Why do companies ask value-based interview questions?

VBIs have been around for a few years. Initially, they were used in specific sectors, like healthcare. The reason was clear enough: in the care environment, it is paramount to employ people who, you know, care about other people.

However, more recently the benefits of VBIs have been seized upon by other sectors, including sales. It makes business sense for your employees to share the same values and beliefs as the business. Everyone will be more likely to pull together, after all.

Imagine if a company that makes a big thing of teamwork, where project and problems are worked through together, hired a self-centred maverick salesman who thought he knew best and did his own thing? It’s got disaster written all over it. A VBI would’ve weeded out this ‘lone wolf’ from the outset.


How do I identify my values?

You’re going to need to do some ‘navel-gazing’, which might not come easily to most. However, if you follow this exercise through, you’ll have a much clearer idea of who you are as a person. It might be eye-opening, it might be lengthy. However, it will be worthwhile.

And after all, understanding your personal values can help in many aspects of your life, not just job interviews!

A second advisory: your values might change as you go through life, so you should evaluate them regularly. For example, whereas once money and status might have been important to you, perhaps work-life balance is more significant now?

Here’s a value evaluation process to follow:

  1. Identify a few occasions when you were most proud;
  2. Pick a few times when you were at your happiest;
  3. Choose some other moments when you were most fulfilled and satisfied;
  4. Google a list of common personal values (typically you might find a list of 200) and select ten that you would associate with your proud/happy/fulfilled moments;
  5. Determine your top values by writing down around ten;
  6. Now prioritise these values, putting those most important to you at the top;
  7. Reaffirm by asking yourself tough questions. Do these values fit in with your life vision? Are you proud of them?

Once you’ve settled on your list, you’re in much better shape to answer questions about what sort of person you are… and, crucially to then answer any follow-up questions by giving examples of when you used these values (by remembering your proud/happy/fulfilled moments).


Preparing for value based interviews

Performing well during value-based interviewing requires thorough prep work. By establishing your own values, you’ll be in a much better position to answer your interviewer’s questions.

However, that’s only half of the preparation required. Remember we said the interviewer wants to match your values to that of the company? You’ll, therefore, want to find out as much as you can about the company’s culture, values and ambitions in advance.  The first step is to look at the ‘About Us’ page on their website that will regularly detail a company’s values together with their mission and vision.

Speak to people that you know who have worked there, search through LinkedIn and Glassdoor to read reviews from previous members of staff, scour the business social media accounts for clues.

Once armed with this information, you can pre-empt any shortcomings a value-based interview might expose. Don’t give false answers, of course, but you can practise how best to portray yourself in each situation.


Answering common value-based interview questions

Here are four typical questions you might expect:

1) Tell me about yourself?

Don’t give your life story, instead think back to your list of personal values and select several of them to describe yourself. Be prepared to provide examples (which you’ll have from the exercise outlined earlier). Just ensure your answers are relevant to the job that you have applied for.

For more information on answering the tell me about yourself question please visit our guide here.


2) What would be the main rewards you feel that you would get from this role?

Again, tune your answer to the job. So, if one of your personal values is helping others and you know the company is ‘hot’ on customer service, then talk about how ‘absolute customer satisfaction’ is an important part of your sales strategy.


3) Tell us about a situation where it was important you worked as part of a team?

You’ve maybe learned the company values teamwork. Reply with a detailed example of your experience working as part of a team, your role in it, what the outcome was and crucially what you learned from it. Because learning shows a desire to progress and perhaps a little humility – both great qualities.


4) Talk us through a situation where you were successful? Why do you think it was a success?

Use your knowledge of the company values to relate to one of your own successful projects. If the success of this project was because of a value the company shares, then even better!

 

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