How to Determine If Your Values Are in Line With a Potential Employer

So you hit the spot on your job search when you were asked to interview a potential employer. Considering how many applications are either ignored or filtered out before they reach the real person, interviewing is a win in itself.

By now, you are probably familiar with the concept of using job interviews to not only express why you are suitable for the position, but also find out if the organization is right for you. Usually, the focus is on figuring out if the corporate culture is right for you, and this is certainly important. But it’s the same with company values, ”wrote Christie Hedges , a senior leadership coach who specializes in executive communications, in a recent article in the Harvard Business Review . Here’s how to determine the values ​​of an organization and whether they are the same as your own.

Culture versus values

What is the difference between company culture and their values? Hedges explains it this way:

Culture defines how work is done, but values show how companies prioritize, make decisions, and resolve conflicts. Culture may welcome innovation, but values ​​determine what is sacrificed to achieve it.

Learning the values ​​of an organization is a three-step process, Hedges says, including the following:

1. Define Your Own Values

First, you must determine which values ​​are most important to you. As Hedges explains, in this context, your values ​​are “principles that are central to who you want to be in this world. If they are hurt, you will feel it acutely. ” A few examples include honesty, decency, positivity, quality, service, and trust.

2. Make a list of questions.

Before the interview, Hedges suggests asking a few questions to help identify the company’s priorities. “These are usually open-ended questions that ask the interviewer for specific examples,” she writes. “The goal is to get information that you can compare with your own values, not ask for confirmation.”

This means refraining from leading questions such as, “I value honesty. Can you give me an example of how honesty is valued here? ” courtesy of Hedges :

  • Who has excelled in a role like this? What makes them so successful? Who has yet to speak and how?
  • What are the qualities promoted here? Who was recently promoted at my level? What qualities did they demonstrate?
  • What behavior is not allowed here? What was the situation when they were violated? What happened?
  • Describe the culture. How has your perception changed over time? Can you share a time when culture surprised you?
  • What is an example of a conflict in a company over strategy or direction? What led to the conflict? How was this resolved?
  • When you were in my shoes, what were you told that helped you succeed here? What could you tell me that you would like to know?

Feel free to ask clarifying questions, including asking for details.

3. Rate the interview.

Once you finish the interview and have a moment, take a moment to evaluate the company’s responses to each of your core values ​​questions. Hedges offers a scale of 1 to 5 for evaluating interviews:

  1. The value was never mentioned
  2. Value was mentioned but not demonstrated
  3. Value has sometimes been demonstrated
  4. Value has been clearly and often demonstrated
  5. This company models value

When you’re done, you should better understand if the company is right for you based on shared values. Unfortunately, this is not a guarantee that everything will always be the same, but at least it should help to minimize surprises.


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