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How To Conduct a Values Based Interview

Having gone to great lengths to circulate your job description, together with a detailed list of skills, experience and education requirements, the responses to your applications are now flooding in.

You're about to start interviewing for your potential new star. But hang on a moment, if you merely match standout CVs to the role, will you end up with the right person for your team?

Many organisations now carry out a value-based interview (VBI) instead. Read on to find out what it is and how it can help you.

What is a value-based interview?

During a VBI, the candidate will be asked specific questions to discover if they hold values and enduring beliefs that match the organisations. See a list of personal values

For example, if your company champions collaboration, does your candidate enjoy working as part of a team?

The individual may be super qualified and have bags of experience, but if they go against the grain of the company values, they're not going to fit in and, worse still, might upset the apple cart for the existing team.

A candidate who ticks the CV boxes and shows empathy to the organisational values looks a perfect fit.

When should you conduct a value-based interview?

VBIs are more common in some sectors than others. One finding it increasingly valuable for the United Kingdom is healthcare. Health trusts or care-related charities conclude that they can only deliver their key value of exceptional care and support if staff are aligned to it. There's no point going to work in a hospital if you're not cut out for it, and VBIs, in this case, will ensure staff are hired who are less likely to leave soon after, thereby saving a fortune on staff attrition costs.

What must a value-based interview achieve?

Essentially, you're trying to hire someone who's an excellent fit for your organisation, someone who will settle in, align themselves with the ethos of the place and perform better because of it.

And as we all know, performing better is good news for the business. In the case of a health trust, that means better care for patients, fulfilling its core value.

That's all well and good, but value-based interviews can only be as good as the people conducting them. In other words, they need to be:

  • Designed appropriately (based on role analysis)
  • Structured
  • Conducted with relevant and standardised questions
  • Carried out by an interviewer, or panel, trained in best practice
  • Most importantly, measured using validated scoring criteria

And remember to pay attention. Cunning candidates are getting rather good at saying what they think you want to hear. In the case of a hospital, it might be pretty easy to ramble on about a passion for caring for people, and you could probably talk for two minutes about that right now. So, it's up to the interviewer to probe deeper with follow-up questions that explore a candidate's real background and values.

For some Example value-based interview questions see here:

How Do I design or create a Values-Based Interview Format?

We have put together an easy to understand format to design your own values based interview here together with a huge list of personal values.

What should be avoided in VBI interviews?

Poor preparation! The skill of conducting a VBI is in the line of questioning and the willingness of the questioner to dig deep. A laid-back approach will lead to ineffectual answers, defeating the whole object. If you're working as part of a panel, ensure everyone involved knows the process and knows what they'll be expected to ask.

When designing questions, ensure that they don't cross an ethical line. For instance, "What are the main lessons that you learned from your parents?" could be deemed unlawful on several levels (yet was a question recently asked by a government interview panel). See illegal interview questions for more examples.

Another critical thing to learn as an interviewer is to avoid asking hypothetical questions since these give the candidate a chance to spin a yarn. For example, don't ask: "How would you deal with a conflict with a co-worker?" since this is not specific. The candidate could wax lyrical without answering truthfully. Whereas if you asked: "Tell me about a time you had a conflict with a colleague?" it is far more likely to elicit a truthful response.

Finally, have structured scoring criteria so that you can assess 'Candidate A' against 'Candidate B' without bias. If more than one of you is conducting a VBI, then score independently and compare and contrast scores at the end of all the interviews to avoid 'confirmation bias' or 'heuristics'.

Other Relevant Interview Advice

Finally, if you're an employer in need of support with your recruitment process, please get in touch with Aaron Wallis Sales Recruitment.

Published: 7th July 2018

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About the author

Rob Scott

Rob is the Managing Director of Aaron Wallis Sales Recruitment, a national recruitment agency specialising in sourcing sales and marketing staff for businesses across a broad range of commercial sectors. Before setting up Aaron Wallis, Rob spent ten years at a specialist Sales and Marketing recruitment division of a £0.5BN recruitment group, leaving in 2007 as Marketing & Sales Director to establish Aaron Wallis.
With over 24 years of experience in sales recruitment, Rob is a History graduate with an MBA (Merit) and a PgCert in Management Practice.  In 2007, 2009 and 2013 Rob conducted the most extensive surveys of sales professionals in the UK and is a trusted authority in the sales industry. From guiding employers through the recruitment process to helping candidates find their dream job, Rob's advice has been quoted in leading publications such as Business Insider and The Independent, as well as OnRec, which host The Online Recruitment Awards every year.

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