Values-Based Interviewing: Five Steps to a Great Internal Hire

As our internal team grows, we’ve been doing a lot of candidate interviews. Even though we’re in the business of interviewing and assessing talent all day long for our clients, doing it for ourselves can still seem difficult. Rather than being a separate third-party working on behalf of your client, this is closer to home. You’re more personally invested; it’s harder to be objective.

Here are five steps that have helped us conduct better internal interviews:

1. Clarify Values. First we had to get very clear about who we are and what we stand for. Our leadership team took a critical look at the company’s internal values and mission, and updated them to be more in-line with the business we are today. Having this level of clarity about who we are and what we’re here to accomplish gives us a solid benchmark to assess internal candidates against.

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2. Develop Questions. We created set of interview questions that help us assess candidates against our values. By using the same few open-ended questions, we give each candidate the opportunity to talk about things we care about and can evaluate them consistently.

3. Interview for Values. Our leadership team does a values interview with each final candidate. The hiring manager has already assessed skills, background and other requirements of the job. At this point we are looking for clues as to how well this person will fit with our culture and expectations.

4. Be Exclusive. We view each candidate through the clearly defined lens of our values. Our internal team is an exclusive club with strict requirements for entry. We know one bad fit can tip the delicate balance; you have to be just the right person to get invited in.

5. Check Your Network. We do ask candidates for references, but I always assume those are carefully chosen people who are sure to say good things. In this interconnected world it’s not hard to find someone who knows the person I’m interviewing. I always reach out to a few people I trust to get their input and perspective on the candidate.

To me there’s nothing worse than hiring the wrong person, whether it’s for our client or for ourselves. No hiring process is perfect or foolproof, but this values-based interview process has given us another way to assess whether a candidate might be a good fit for our team. I encourage you to give a try; to measure candidates against what’s important to you and your company.

MORE: Hire for personality, not skills

Kristen Harris

Kristen Harris
Kristen Harris is co-founder and owner of Portfolio Creative, an Inc. 5000 fastest-growing firm for the past four years.

Kristen Harris

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One Response to “Values-Based Interviewing: Five Steps to a Great Internal Hire”

  1. Akraya says:

    This is excellent advice, Kristen!
    Yesterday, our  team had a strategy meeting to discuss the interview of our next VP hire. 
    Ironically, we hit all of the bullets on your five-step list in that meeting.
    I’m expecting our interview planning to be truly successful now with a coordinated effort. 
    But it’s nice to know that these strategies are already working well for your company.

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