Interviewing for Company Values [Integrity & Honesty, Collaboration, and Motivation]

We reveal the three best values-based interview questions that will enable you to probe candidates for cultural fit based on the most common values shared by successful organisations.

Imagine this. You’re about to interview two candidates running for a position in your company. On paper, both are skilled, intelligent, and knowledgeable candidates with a ton of work experience, which matches the job description perfectly.

Now, one of them — we’ll call her Hannah— will become a torch carrier in your organisation making a huge impact on the bottom line. The other — Emma — is going to punch the clock for one year before calling it quits.

How do you tell which is which?

Enter values-driven hiring.

In this post, you’re going to learn how to vet candidates for cultural fit and create a high-retention environment that boosts employee happiness and ultimately your profits.

First things first…

Hiring for cultural fit has become one of those buzzwords in a way.


Probably because most companies no longer just look for people with the right soft and hard skills.

Corporations like Starbucks, Zappos, Patagonia want someone who would match their DNA.

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The reason being that these hires would gel match better with team members, get up to speed faster and provide more value to the organisation.

These hires won’t rock the boat. They’ll fit like a glove into the culture and stay for the long haul sparing you a $550 billion loss in productivity as a result of poor employee longevity.

In theory, this sounds fantastic.

But how can hiring managers possibly vet candidates for the intangible quality given that an interview is like a blind date where the candidate is trying to look their best?

That’s what you’re about to find out.

Value-based interview questions

All candidates have a set of core values, which dictates their priorities and behaviours in the workplace. Same goes for companies.

Now, if you want to know whether a potential hire’s values would mesh or conflict with your organisation, you want to ask values-driven interview questions.

For the purpose of this guide, we’ll stick to the most common values that companies stand by:

  • Integrity & Honesty;
  • Collaboration;
  • Motivation.

So without further ado, let’s jump right in.

Integrity & honesty

If you want to get a sense of the candidate’s transparency, here’s a good question you can ask:

What’s your greatest professional failure?

Anyone who’s been punching the clock for some time failed at one point in their career. And this is especially true for execs.

Good answer

I’d say my biggest failure is when I was a project manager at Adobe. My team and I failed to get one million dollar project from Adobe’s existing customer. We took it for granted that the project would be ours, but we didn’t push hard enough.

Looking back, I can say that we didn’t go the extra mile to wow the customer and that enabled our competition to steal the business. What I’ve learned from that experience is that you should never take a customer for granted and settle for a mediocre pitch.

Why is it good?

Most importantly because it shows that the candidate is willing to be raw. And that they had a transformative, first-hand learning experience backed up by evidence.

Bad answer

Well, to be honest, I haven’t had any serious failures. I guess I’ve been pretty lucky in my previous jobs, right?


The success of any organisation depends on those who can rally around and deliver on a shared project. Here’s a sweet question you can ask to probe the candidate for teamwork.

Can you describe a time when you had to work as part of a team to complete a task?

Good answer

I was working at Bank of America and we had to roll out a new banking platform for our corporate clients. I was responsible for managing the external communication with the clients, which meant working with a lot of people from our Operations and Customer Service departments.

We all had different roles to play, but we all worked in concert as if we were an orchestra to deliver on the company-wide project, which was super important to get right.

Why is it good?

Rather than trying to fluff up their answer, the person is describing how they worked in concert with other teams backing it up with real-life examples — that’s when you know you’ve struck real gold.

Bad answer

Once my team lead brought in a Rubik’s cube and we all tried to solve it…

interviewing for company values

Image: Stock Snap


People who’ll give you all day in and day out worth their weight in gold. Here’s how you can evaluate that hardworking quality:

Can you think of an experience where you walked the extra mile to deliver on a task on time?

Good answer

When I was working at PDG+creative, my team members had a project that revolved around shooting a small video to see if it’d have any effect on the response rate when it came to sending pitches. They agreed to do the video on Friday, but the guy responsible for the shoot got sick.

Since I was pretty good at photography and videography, I offered to stay late on that day to help. In the end, my peers managed to finalise the project on time.

Why is it good?

The person can paint a picture describing a time when did more than was expected of them going above and beyond.

Bad answer

In all honesty, I think that people should stick to the job description and not go beyond that.

In Summary

There you have it.

Three of the best values-based interview questions that will empower you to probe the candidate for cultural fit based on the most common values shared by successful organisations.

When there comes a time to step into an interview, make sure you ask these question to drill down into the candidate’s work value system before pulling the trigger.

About the Author

Max Woolf is a writer. He’s passionate about helping people land their dream jobs through the expert career industry coverage. In his spare time, Max enjoys biking and traveling to European countries. You can hit him up on LinkedIn or Twitter.

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