Recruiting for values

CBB the not4profit people‘s first quarterly HR ExecNet event, held on 15 May 2014, focused on the challenges of recruiting employees who share an organisation’s values. Based on the successful networking and thought provoking Community ExecNet, the HR ExecNet event aims to bring together the usually isolated HR professionals from the not for profit sector to network and discuss issues of common concern.

The conversation around values was very interesting, with a number of opinions shared by both the audience and the panellists.

There was a range of views on why values are important in an organisation, and one shared by our audience is that values are about the ‘why’ of what we do, not the what. This is a definition close to CBB’s heart, as we have done a lot of work lately on our values and the reason why we engage in the activities that we do. In particular, CBB has listened closely to TED presentations by Simon Sinek, available on YouTube, which are well worth a watch.

From our perspective, values are important in organisations because they drive our decisions and our behaviour. As we increasingly rely on our employees’ ability to make good decisions and behave in a way that best represents our organisations, we are increasingly relying on them to value the same things that we value. Policies and procedures can’t adequately cover all situations that employees need to manage.

So how do you recruit for a values fit? Participants had some interesting ideas. Our panellist, Janine Lenigas, CEO of Lutheran Disability Services, seeks referrals from current employees. Her view is that people tend to associate with others who share their values, and so the best way to find people who share your values is to ask for recommendations from people who you know that also share your values.

The conversation also mentioned using videos in the recruitment process. Jane Coward, Organisational Development Manager at Central Adelaide Local Health Network, showed a video that had recently been filmed at the Royal Adelaide Hospital. This film can be found on YouTube (search under Central Adelaide Local Health Network), and shows users and employees of the health network what the health network cares about. Audience members also mentioned showing videos in the recruitment process and using candidates responses to help find employees that share the organisational values.

From our perspective, the best approach to recruiting for values is based in behavioural interviewing. Behavioural interviewing believes that the best predictor of future performance and behaviour is past performance and behaviour. In this case, we want candidates to share examples of situations where they have had to demonstrate a particular values, such as respect, integrity, service or empowerment (CBB’s values). In particular, asking for scenarios where these values are difficult to live up to (such as when faced with someone who you do not like or respect) will show how the candidates handle those situations.

Above all, it is important to be clear on what your values look like before recruiting for a values fit. Respect looks different between workplaces, such as a hospital versus a sales call centre. And it looks different in different cultures. It is important for your organisation to describe what its values look like before trying to find employees who share that value. Once you know what you expect from your employees when they exercise your values, you can look for these signs in the responses that your candidates give during the recruitment process.

If you’d like further information on values-based recruitment or anything else regarding managing and leading people, contact our Senior HR Consultant, Andrea Collett on 1300 284 364 or email