Values Statements: Mumbo-Jumbo or Interview Winner?

Aug 12, 2011 by

Values Statements: Mumbo-Jumbo or Interview Winner?

Have you been discussing ‘values’ this week?

The chaos that unfolded in the UK street riots seems to have led the nation into a big debate about the values – of individuals, society, the banks and the authorities – that make us all tick.

For sure there’s been a lot of talk about yobbish behaviour and basic human rights and morals, but how often do job-hunters think about values in the context of a job-hunt?

Not so often in our experience, so we thought it an apt moment to post a little something to get you thinking…

What values make you tick?

Most people I meet will usually maintain they have a set of values that defines them and what they do.

Just think about your own values for 5 minutes…

Can you articulate yours in 60 seconds?

We recently decided, with the help of a terrific company called Indigo Brave, to thrash out specifically what we all believed and agreed our own organisation’s core values were.

It took ages. An entire day in fact.

And it was very clear by the end that, although we shared broadly the same beliefs and aims, individuals working in our organisation articulated them in very different ways.

So, how should our experience matter to you?

Your values could get you hired!

Personality, people skills and values – both yours and those of a potential employer – is something that you’re more and more likely to have to articulate and comment on at interview – and you’ll probably have less than 60 seconds to capture a potential employer’s attention when you’re asked to do so.

5 Useful things to remember about values…

Below are 5 things we’ve learnt about values that could make the process of getting the right job easier for you:

#1 Preparation pays off

Invest a good few hours writing down as many different words, phrases and actions that seem to demonstrate what you think of as your values. Then distil those down into a few key words or statements that demonstrate your way – the way you want to conduct and be seen to conduct yourself.

#2 Know their values

Below are a candidate’s observations about a company he wanted to work for:

“My first impression of (X) is that it is a hard working, professional, ethical, market leader in it’s industry. This is clear from the simple and informative global website that demonstrates what it does, who it does it for and why you need it.

A company that clearly knows their customer base and moves with speed and agility, providing the customers with a solution and service they need and want and not just box shifters.

A culture of growing year on year and making a profit but doing so ethically. Demonstrating an environmental policy that not only states the company’s standing but also how (X) enable their customers to be more environmentally responsible by simply installing (X’s) products.

As well as making a profit, (X) gives back to the community with a Corporate Donations Program that supports worthy causes.

So if you’re asking what image comes to mind when I hear the name (X), I would liken it to the Worker Bee. A hard working powerhouse that knows what it needs to do, works as a team and conducts itself ethically and morally. No other can imitate it, many try but it’s clear they are unique, vital and the best at what they do.”

He got it spot on, but unfortunately many companies will have the same problem as you: When put on the spot, company employees and even senior executives will be unable to articulate exactly what grand company values statements really mean.

Reputation alone and the company website doesn’t aways say much then about a potential employer’s values. It is therefore worth getting the opportunity to meet people within the organisation and find out if they can articulate the company’s values and also if they believe that the company actually believes in and operates according to those values. Easier said than done but, in the latter stages of the recruitment process, you should be able to find a way to spend a little time with other employees.

#3 Values are subjective

There’s no ‘right’ or ‘wrong’.

Everybody has different values and different interpretations of the same values.

If you’re considering whether or not to work for a company, don’t rush to judgement but do hold people accountable. If a company state’s that ‘People are our most important asset’ and yet you find a high level of staff turnover and a state of fear or unhappiness amongst the employees, then it may be worth exploring further – if that really matters to you.

Likewise, don’t beat yourself up if you get rejected for a job on the basis that you don’t share the same values of the organisation you want to join.

#4 Values change

One company in the food industry continues to have a reputation for treating its employees in a particular way, long after it brought about radical cultural change within its organisation that transformed the way it treated staff. It is now a very different place to work by all accounts, but old perceptions of that business held by outsiders remain.   

Be aware of such changes – and review your own values regularly.

#5 Companies sometimes want to hire people with different values.

Don’t always assume companies are seeking candidates who share the same values.

A case in point is the company mentioned above who went out of their way to hire people with very different skill-sets and values in order to facilitate radical cultural change.

What do you think?

If you’re open to sharing your experiences and thoughts, or want to share what you’ve learnt with other job-hunters, why not get in touch or post your thoughts in the comments box below?


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