What is a values based interview?

Employers continuously look for better ways to identify applicants who will make the greatest contribution to their business over time.  Some major employers are now using ‘values’ interviews to achieve this.

What are they?

To understand values based interviews, let us compare it to other interview types:

Competency interviews ask candidates to provide evidence of their skills and experience, using examples of when they have successfully demonstrated the skill (i.e. getting candidates to talk about actions and behaviours in certain situations). 

Strengths interviews aim to understand where a candidate’s strengths lie, to see if they align with the fundamental elements of the job – i.e. if employees will be more productive if they spend time doing what they are good at.

Values interviews on the other hand look at the values and motivations that drive behaviour.  

What do they involve?

To do well at an interview, it’s important to think about what employers are looking for. Employers who focus on values are trying to get to know applicants as individuals and understand why they behave in the way they do.

Expect questions such as:

What excites you about working in the industry?
What challenges do you think there would be?  
What would be the main rewards for you?
What parts do you think you would most enjoy?
How do you motivate yourself when faced with a task you don’t enjoy?

How to prepare

Start by thinking about yourself, what is important to you and what your motivations are for wanting the job.  Think across your WHOLE life i.e. personal, academic, work and come up with examples of when you have behaved in ways that demonstrate your claims. Don’t be afraid to use examples of skills and experience gained in your personal life.  If your passion for reading caused you to set up a book club, or you never miss 5-a-side football training, or if you have a black belt in Karate earned over 10 years of practice… these things are all really interesting to a potential employer and in whatever type of interview, you can use your interests to your advantage as a way to also stand out from the crowd and be memorable.

However proceed with caution and definitely be honest… do not say ‘world peace is important to me’ if you cannot evidence that interest… as the next question will surely be “Tell me what you have done to promote world peace…”.

Read the organisation’s mission statement and core values and look for links with what’s important to you. Be prepared to talk about and reflect on your experiences and question your behaviours and decisions. Don’t forget the basics of interview preparation – re-read your application form/CV, re-read the job spec and research, research, research the company and it’s sector. Read our previous blog posts about interview preparation here.

Good luck!


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