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How to be successful in a values-based interview

Planning job seeking activity and getting a new job - useful blogs

A value-based interview, therefore, will seek to establish whether your own ‘values’ coincide with those of the employer – and those who work there. The vast majority of organisations now tend to focus not so much on your ability to out-sell your competitors (internal and external), but more on how you might fit – and contribute – as an individual; or how your perceived behaviour might impact on others with whom you work or have contact. Consequently, the ‘Value-based interview’ is increasingly common and you should prepare accordingly.

Oscar Wilde once famously described a cynic as being “someone who knows the price of everything, and the value of nothing.” Wise words which, these days, (if you were being particularly vindictive) might be applied equally to the advertising or marketing sectors. However, these days companies and organisations are increasingly interested in your personal values – and how they may influence others.

Our values in life are formed first as children when we might expect to adhere to the general values of our parents. Then, as we grow older, we form our own values, often based on our specific life experiences - some of which may even run counter to those of our parents. However, they remain our values, we hold them dear and, most important, will direct our behaviour.

A value-based interview, therefore, will seek to establish whether your own ‘values’ coincide with those of the employer – and those who work there. The vast majority of organisations now tend to focus not so much on your ability to out-sell your competitors (internal and external), but more on how you might fit – and contribute – as an individual; or how your perceived behaviour might impact on others with whom you work or have contact. Consequently, the ‘Value-based interview’ is increasingly common, and you should prepare accordingly.

A value-based interview (vbi) sets a benchmark that’s so much higher than a straightforward competency-based one. The ‘cbi’ will investigate – often quite thoroughly – your past experiences and achievements as they relate to a specific role, whereas the vbi will investigate – equally thoroughly – you as a person. Ouch! But then totally understandable when you consider the criteria.

Just as people buy from people, so people have to work with people. The past 18 months has seen much of that face-to-face engagement eroded as we all experienced the effects of the pandemic, but then the values by which you live can be evidenced on a Zoom call. Why not?

The values we hold – whether they be: kindness to others; empathy (with their problems or issues); reliability; honesty; willingness to try new methods; calmness – can often point to one attribute: leadership. And being able to voice this fact as a basic principle during interview could be very powerful.

Like any interview a vbi calls for extensive preparation (what, exactly, are they looking for?), even to the point of identifying the credo by which they operate, which may include many aspects, from a moral code (oh yes) to basic beliefs. Consequently, knowing what these are before you even apply for the role allows you to become comfortable with it and the prospect of working for them.

If you know anyone within the company or organisation, it will do no harm to gently pick their brains over a coffee before the interview, and so prepare yourself for the interview itself. Establish how long the interview is likely to take: 30 minutes is fine; 90 minutes, however, can be something of a marathon and calls for much greater preparation. Again, if you can, speak to past interviewees (successful or otherwise – it doesn’t matter).

Finally, prepare for the “Tell me about a time when…” question. The forms these questions can take are limitless, but imagine answering, for example: “Tell me about a time when you gained the all-round acclamation of your team for how you handled a difficult situation.” You’d want to focus straight away on the personal values you brought to bear in addressing that issue, and how they led you to success. The more you can ‘answer’ these sort of questions in your mind beforehand, the easier you will find it to tackle the same sort of question at interview. Know. Your. Subject.

 

Key Points

  • The value-based interview (vbi) shares many of the characteristics of a competency-based one; “Tell me about a time when….”
  • A vbi is potentially much more incisive, asking you to, essentially, ‘bare your soul’ to the interviewer.
  • Your ability to succeed by ‘flexing your muscles’ is far less important than your ability to empathise and engage with your co-workers. And your interviewer.
  • The vbi offers you the opportunity to demonstrate fully just how your (proven) values – as someone who can be trusted to perform either as a team member or leader – will coincide with their own established norms.

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