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Values Based Hiring

Why play a game of chance when you don’t have to? I was casually reading the results of a survey on the topic of hiring methodologies last weekend when one particular survey question really caught my attention: “When considering a new hire, what is the one characteristic or attribute of the candidate that would most influence your hiring decision?” The “right” answer seemed quite obvious to me, but in reading the respondent’s (100 hiring managers, executives and HR types) answers I was truly amazed at what I saw…It is no wonder that companies struggle with talent management when they hire based on the “wrong” evaluation metrics. In today’s post I’ll share my observations and conclusions drawn from the information gleaned in reviewing the survey…

Let me start by sharing some of the representative answers (not mine) that were put forth in response to the survey question above:

  1. “Leadership ability”;
  2. “I would have to say being a good communicator”;
  3. “The ability to think outside the box and eagerness to learn”;
  4. “The ability to make a good first impression”;
  5. “Intelligence”;
  6. “Commitment to invest long hours”;
  7. “Being a team player”;
  8. “Excellent time management skills”;
  9. “Enthusiastic attitude”;
  10. “Strong analytical abilities”;
  11. “Solid technical skills”;
  12. “The ability to execute”;
  13. “The ability to follow process”
  14. “That the individual is a nice person”;
  15. “That they have a degree from a good school”;

Okay, I think you get the point by now…Again, keep in mind that these (along with the other answers posted) were given by senior managers and executives. Here is what I’d like you to consider…While the answers noted above all point to admirable traits, when you evaluate them based upon the context of the original question posed they are nothing short of mystifying…Out of 100 answers provided only two respondents answered with what I believe is the correct answer: “Integrity and Character.” You see, any of the traits identified in the 98 other answers absent character and integrity will eventually lead to some type of disconnect or debacle. Values based hiring increases performance, enhances collaboration, reduces turnover, increases morale, and creates a stable culture. The fact that character and integrity showed as poorly as they did in the survey, is proof positive for why the corporate workplace struggles with talent management.

What should be jumping off the page here is that based upon the above referenced survey only two percent of the companies surveyed appear to utilize a value based hiring methodology.  Moreover, one might conclude that 98% of these companies have the wrong people doing the hiring. I strongly suggest that whomever is doing the hiring within your organization utilize a values based recruiting model. This doesn’t just mean hire a top producer, or the candidate who graduated from the best business school, but rather hire a quality individual that is a person of integrity & character, whose values are in alignment with the organizations core values, and who also happens to be talented.

The simple truth of the matter is that you can have your cake and it eat too if you’re willing to hold-out for the right person. It simply isn’t necessary to compromise on core values to get talent. A new hire should desire to be part of your company for more than the ability to maximize immediate earning potential…they should be interested in your company because there is a sincere alignment of values and vision.

Don’t be quick to hire based upon gut feel, but rather take time in the interviewing process to let the prospective new hire get a feel for your culture and your company. Never oversell the company, but rather disclose all the problems and weaknesses of the organization so that the candidate can make a good decision that won’t later be unwound by inconsistent messaging or practices. Above all, don’t be seduced by qualities that while they may be attractive on the surface, won’t ever make-up for a lack of character and integrity.

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    April 14, 2010 at 12:04 pm

    Thanks Mike, great post.

    My question is: How do we know if the candidate has character and integrity? Are there certain tools one can utilize?




    April 14, 2010 at 12:05 pm

    Hi Ahmad:

    Thanks for the kind words. In answer to your question, there are any number of diagnostic tests (personality profiles, psychological evaluations, etc.) that can be administered as part of the hiring process. In addition to testing, developing a solid set of interviewing questions to sniff out any character flaws is also a good idea. Lastly, conducting a background check and thoroughly vetting references is also something that should not be glossed over.


    Holly Munn

    April 14, 2010 at 11:01 pm

    Getting the right person is challenging. I often find that HR is more interested in what a candidate has done than who they are…
    I wonder if this is why people say you are more likely to find a job through networking than through sending out resumes — networking gives you a chance to let your future employer (or colleagues) find out who you really are, not just what your job title has been.



      April 15, 2010 at 6:20 am

      Thanks for sharing the great observations Holly. I agree with your conclusions and thanks for sharing.



    April 15, 2010 at 12:06 pm

    Great article Mike. Companies don’t go out of their way to hire someone that will not work out yet it happens each day. Tools are available that generate meaningful and relevant information which can greatly augment the present interviewing processes. Identify problems upstream and spare the organization a lot of stress and expense.



      April 15, 2010 at 3:02 pm

      Hi Joe:

      Thanks for your comment. I don't know anyone who hasn't made a bad hire, but it should definitely be the exception and not the rule. You are correct about the abundant supply of interviewing resources available to companies, which if used will help mitigate the risk of a bad hire. You might also enjoy a post which address the more human side of the hiring process:https://hub.n2growth.com/who-should-do-the-hi

      Thanks for stopping by Joe.


        Mike Anderson

        May 13, 2010 at 3:51 pm

        I think this is a great point and is in line with the concept of "First Break All the Rules" . The hard part is getting at the true talent of the individual and their fit for the job in a half hour to hour interview. Thanks for sharing this information.


    Montarious Usher

    February 14, 2013 at 11:30 am

    I Know this post is three years old however, I enjoyed the
    content none the less, very insightful.

    I believe companies should be intentional in recruiting and hiring based on Values.

    Although for profit organizations can benefit from value based hiring, my assumption is that non-profit organizations can greatly benefit.
    Thanks for sharing!

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