Tag Archives: interview for values

Connecting Values to Behavior in the Interview

“We just had our annual planning meeting,” Kelly explained. “We talked about our core values as a company, and wanted to find a way to integrate that intention into our interview process when we recruit new people into our company. But how do you interview for values? You can’t just ask someone, if they have integrity.”

“You can interview for anything that you can connect to behavior,” I replied. “That goes for any critical role requirement. Connect it to behavior and the questions will follow.”

“Okay, integrity,” Kelly challenged.

“Here’s the magic question. How does a person, who has integrity behave? Then ask about a circumstance where you might see that behavior?

  • Tell me about a time when (my favorite lead in) you were working on a project, where something happened, that wasn’t supposed to happen, and you were the only one who knew about it.?
  • Tell me about a time when, you found out that someone took a shortcut on a project that had an impact on quality, but you were the only one who knew about it?
  • Tell me about a time when, you were working on a project, and someone confided in you about a quality standard or safety standard that everyone else had overlooked, and now, the two of you were the only ones who knew about it?
  • Tell me about a time when, you were in charge of quality control on a project, and in the final audit, you discovered something wrong, and it took significant re-work and expense to fix.

“Once the candidate has identified a possible circumstance, then ask about the behaviors connected with integrity.

  • What was the project?
  • How long was the project?
  • Who was on the project team?
  • What was your role on the project?
  • What went wrong on the project?
  • How did you discover it?
  • How were you the only one who knew about it?
  • What impact did the hidden problem have on the project?
  • What did you do? Who did you talk to? What did you say?
  • How was the problem resolved?
  • What was the impact of the re-work required in costs, materials and time?
  • Tell me about another time when you discovered something wrong and you were the only one who knew about it?

“Would it be okay to ask about personal dilemmas, secrets and betrayals?” Kelly asked.

“Everybody has personal drama. I prefer to stick with work examples. It’s all about the work.”

More examples in my book, Hiring Talent. Hiring guru, Barry Shamis also discusses in his book Hiring 3.0.

How to Create Interview Questions on Culture

As I walked through the entry way to the lobby, I noticed Miguel had posted the list of values in a cheap plastic frame next to the Mission Statement. I ducked into the conference room. Miguel sat up. “I know, I know,” he said. “At least it’s a start.”

I stared at him. “No impact. It’s not even a start!”

The rest of the management team huddled around, taking their places at the table. “Look,” I continued. “You have done a lot of work, but until you breathe some life into these values, communicate them as part of your culture, you might as well have stayed in bed.”

We worked the values list for thirty minutes, and in that short time, a series of ideas was constructed. There were details and accountabilities.

Hiring topped everyone’s list. That meant identifying behaviors connected with those values and constructing interview questions for those behaviors. We spent ten minutes brainstorming those questions. Interestingly, that ten minutes revealed more about the meaning of those values and how they would positively impact culture than any framed poster on the wall.

On teamwork, we asked ourselves, “How does a person behave, who values teamwork?” Then we constructed questions for those behaviors.

  • Tell me about a project you worked on, where teamwork was important?
  • What was the project?
  • How long was the project?
  • How many people on the team?
  • What was your role on the team?
  • What was the critical element in this project that made teamwork important?
  • When the team worked well together, what was happening?
  • When the team did not work well together, what was happening?
  • What did the team adjust to work better together?
  • What did you, personally, have to adjust to make the team work better together?

We amplified those questions by circulating an email copy to several other committees and groups in the company. We got lots of feedback and suggestions for more questions. Values are important, but you cannot interview for values, you can only interview for behaviors (connected to those values).