How to Create Values-Based Interview Questions


Why conduct a values-based interview?


Hiring the best talent for startups is hard enough in itself – how do you ensure your next hire is a good one, and also the right fit for your company?

Using values-based interview questions will effectively maximise your chances of welcoming someone onto your team who shares your company vision. But how do you actually do it?

We’re here to save you some time and help you conduct effective value-based interviews that hire talent that aligns with your company values in three steps:

  1. Distil your values to traits to identify in candidates.

  2. Consider how these traits translate to action.

  3. Come up with (or use our!) questions to assess behaviour from the candidate.

These all add up to…

Effectively assessing your candidate against your company values and vision.

How to effectively test candidates against your values

Whilst every startup has its own set of values, naturally, many business owners are looking for similar traits in their candidates.

For example, Amazon’s mission statement is ‘To be Earth’s most customer-centric company, where customers can find and discover anything they might want to buy online, and endeavours to offer its customers the lowest possible prices’. Seems a lot, yes?

If you look at this in detail, Amazon is looking for potential employees to be creative in finding solutions to providing a range of items at low prices, have a growth mindset to contribute their part to being Earth’s most customer-centric company, and the ambition to achieve all the superlatives Amazon places on itself where they are the most customer-centric company, and customers can find anything at the lowest price.

Breaking these far-reaching and impressive mission statements down to key traits is a practical way of establishing some behavioural questions that Amazon, or your startup, might use to test for these in candidates.

This works far better than just putting a mission statement in front of a candidate and asking, ‘do you agree?’.

Don’t worry, we have done the hard work for you and distilled common values that drive startups and businesses into nine integral characteristics that you might be looking for in a candidate:

  1. Integrity,

  2. Growth mindset,

  3. Transparency,

  4. Ambition,

  5. Collaboration,

  6. Perseverance,

  7. Excellence,

  8. Creativity,

  9. And Humility.

Naturally, you might be more specific, putting more emphasis on creativity versus humility for a design position, for example. For each of these, we will take you through how these traits translate to more general company values and the kind of values-based interview questions you can ask candidates to test for these traits.

Conducting value-based interviews

Let’s go through each of the key traits we have identified, and how to ask questions that compare these to the corporate values you are looking for:

1. Integrity

Being honest and having strong moral principles

  • Have you ever experienced a difficult ethical or moral dilemma in the workplace? How did you approach the situation?

  • Can you tell us about a company policy you did not agree with? Why did you not agree with it?

  • Have you ever noticed another employee acting unprofessionally or unethically? If so, what did you do?

  • What causes or actions do you feel it is important for companies to support?

2. Growth Mindset

Anything can be developed – in themselves or in the business – with dedication and hard work.

  • Has your boss ever given you a large task at the end of the day? What did you do?

  • Describe a situation where you were particularly successful. What do you think contributed to this success?

  • Tell me about a time you have undertaken independent, or extra learning. How did this contribute to the task you were set?

  • How risk-averse would you say you were?

3. Transparency

Operating in such a way allows for openness, communication, and accountability.

  • How important is it to you that people are allocated clear tasks on a project?

  • Tell us about a time you improved efficiency in the workplace process.

4. Ambition

A strong desire to achieve success.

  • What is your vision for progress within the company?

  • What steps do you tend to take to ensure working relationships with those in your workspace?

  • How do you motivate yourself to do tasks you don’t find engaging or fun?

5. Collaboration

Able to work with others to achieve a common purpose successfully.

  • Tell us about a time you worked on an equal footing with someone to achieve a goal or project.

  • Can you give me an example of a time you have worked well in a team?

  • Have you ever had to deal with a difficult teammate or peer? How did you overcome this difficulty?

6. Perseverance

Continuing on a project despite difficulty or setbacks.

  • Have you worked on a difficult project? If so, how did you deal with it, and what was the end result?

  • Can you tell us about a time you encountered a severe setback at work? how did you deal with it?

  • Describe a situation where you successfully persuaded someone to see things your way.

7. Excellence

Achieving things to a consistently outstanding standard.

  • Can you tell us about a time made an improvement in your own work or the work of others in a team?

8. Creativity

Being able to produce original ideas and solutions to problems.

  • Describe a situation where you had to come up with an unusual solution to a problem. What was it and how did it work?

  • Can you tell us about a time you had to deal with unplanned demands on you or your team?

  • Describe a situation where you lacked, or initially lacked, the skills required to complete an assignment? How to you overcome this?

9. Humility

Promoting and acknowledging others’ work alongside their own.

  • How do you deal with both positive and negative feedback?

  • Can you tell me about a time you’ve made a mistake or error in the workplace? what was your reaction? what was the outcome? what did you learn?

The benefits of value-based interviews

These kinds of values-based interview questions are designed to help you establish why and how candidates make the decisions that they do in the workplace.

By working out how the operational values of your startup translate to attributes you can actively seek out in candidates, you can ensure you are hiring the best talent that is also the best fit for you and your business.