How to answer the Interview Question: What are your Core Values?
Job applicants think of all kinds of questions while preparing for an interview. Many of them prepare for normal traditional interview questions. Quite a number of them go further even prepare for behavioral-based questions, as well. However, most of them would not be ready for this question ‘What are your core values?’
What are Core Values?
Core values are a set of fundamental beliefs, ideals, or practices that influences how you compote your life, personally and professionally. Businesses also have core values that can help them determine how to allocate resources, make important decisions and grow.
People and companies normally select a fewer core values to influence the ways they hire and maintain staff, approach daily business practices, conduct communications, etc. These values can inform how people interact with others, the focus of a person or business work, or the individual responsibilities one will hold.
Identifying your core values and that of your organization can provide some sort of structure and guidance, especially when dealing with a challenging decision or dispute. If a core value of yours is honesty, you would always refer back to it when deciding whether or not a certain piece of information should be kept confidential.
Core values are ethics or ideals that guide you when making decisions, building relationships, and solving problems. Identifying the values that are useful and meaningful in your life can help you to develop and achieve personal and professional goals. It also can assist you in finding jobs within corporations that align with your ethics
Nowadays, core values are becoming a major issue during the interview process, for both job applicants and organizations. This is because they often signify whether or not a very compatible fit exists. If everything about a new role, its job description, the salary and benefits, the company culture all fall into place, and the company’s core values are in synergy with yours, then it’s a win.
But if you’ve never done an evaluation of your core values, the standards by which you like to live and work, it’s not too late to do some thinking and know exactly what your core values are. Once you’ve done that, you’ll compare them to that of your present or prospective employer in order to determine your compatibility.
You may be asking yourself what constitutes your values and if your professional values are different from your personal values. You’ll find that if you create an inventory comprised of both types, more likely than not, there’ll be many overlaps. That’s because it’s impossible to keep them separate; your personal values have a huge impact on what you value professionally.
Here are some examples of core value principles:
• The desire to build long-term relationships
• The need to treat others with respect and to appreciate their time
• Placing an emphasis on effective communication
• A healthy work-life balance, which includes adequate vacation and recovery time
As you can see, the majority of these apply to both the personal and professional realms. It makes perfect sense that would be the case. People practice their core values consistently across the various areas of their life.
So what are the core values of your current employer? Are the values apparent? Can you tell what they are just by observing the organization in operation? It’s very important that an employee’s values align with that of their employer. If that’s not the case, it will be difficult for that employee to be fulfilled in that organization.
The core values of a workplace vary from one company to the other. An employer, for instance, may value honesty above everything else and go about their business accordingly. Another may consider efficiency/productivity as the pinnacle of their business’ hierarchy of values.
The bottom line is that no two organizations share the same values or are cut from the same moral cloth. The values that you might have admired at your previous job could be completely absent in your future workplace. On the other hand, the values you found to be conspicuously lacking in your previous work might be considered a top priority in your next one.
Once you’ve done a complete assessment of your core values, take a close look at where you stand with your current company. If an acceptable alignment doesn’t exist, then perhaps it’s time to find a new place that values the same things that you do.
Why is it important to pay attention to core values?
Core values should always play a major role in any of your job searches. When you find an organization whose work values are in synergy with yours, you’ll be far more likely to enjoy job satisfaction, stability, and productivity.
There are many reasons for this, but the most important one is this: Your core values serve as the guide to your behavior and when your core work values align with those of your employer, you’ll be able to arrive at work each day with a strong feeling that you’re doing something beneficial for yourself, your community, and the world also.
Here are some common samples of core work values that you may see on a job posting or on an organization’s website. As you go through this list, take some time with each one to pause, reflect, and ask yourself: How much does this matter to me, to my own life, and to my personal career goals?
Having integrity in your workplace means you try to do the proper thing, even if nobody is looking. You value honesty, transparency and you have a commitment to do what’s best for your clients, teammates, and company.
The ability to think of creative ways to solve difficult problems and take calculated risks. Find new ways to move the organization you work with forward.
The ability to figure out a way that’s most conducive to doing your best and as an employee, you’ll want to feel empowered to be decisive and take action. Many companies will want to give you the flexibility to work at your own pace and in your own way as long as you continue to meet satisfactory performance standards.
Many people and corporations believe that the expansion of a corporation comes with the professional growth of the team. Valuing growth means that you have to continuously improve both yourself and the business. Growth is based on mutual success, so if you value growth in the workplace, you might want to look for a company that makes the career development of its staff a priority and provides an environment that fosters personal and professional development.
Being service-minded means that you care about providing a quality/meaningful experience to the people you serve and support. This value includes supporting your community and your team.
Honesty includes abstaining from lies, falsehoods, and cheating.
Philanthropy is aimed at helping others and making a positive difference in the lives of those who are less fortunate.
Financial success involves striving to make a large amount of money and material wealth.
Work/life balance includes prioritizing a healthy and happy medium in one’s professional and personal life.
Creativity is an ambition to become more original and innovative at work.
Environmental sustainability involves reducing one’s impact on the environment and increasing public awareness of environmental issues.
Fame is doing all you can to be a star and to have a well-known name.
Health and wellness as a core values involve prioritizing the upkeep of one’s physical, psychological, and emotional wellbeing.
Independence is striving to achieve greater degrees of autonomy and creative freedom in the workplace.
Responsibility is placing a high moral value on the importance of completing one’s work duties, to the best of one’s abilities, every single day.
Ambition as a core value helps you aim at excelling at the very top of one’s field.
Leadership is a desire to be a mentor to others, motivate them, help them grow, and achieve greater levels of success.
Below are more examples of core values employers look to when building and maintaining a successful workplace:
• Hard work
• Meaningful work
• Work ethic
• Time management
You can use this list as a guide when choosing your own core values, planning answers to interview questions, or understanding the core values of others.
So what the hiring manager wants to know when he/she asks what your core values are, they just want to learn if you’ll provide solutions to their problems.
To answer this question you are going to relate your work experience, professional qualifications, and achievements to the requirements of the job.
Here are some simple steps you can use to help prepare your answer:
Step 1: Research the company
A great answer to this question will include matching your own career goals and values with those of the hiring company, so it’s essential to learn as much as you can about the company.
Once you understand what is most important to the company and learn about its specific needs, you can then state in your answer how you will contribute to the company’s mission and meet its needs.
You can learn about the problems the company is trying to solve by visiting their product or service page, and carefully observing how they talk about their clients.
Also, review the company’s presence on social media and also see what sort of content or feedback their staff post. Try to find similarities between the content they publish and yours.
Step 2: Review the job description
The job description will go into detail about the duties and responsibilities of the role. The idea here is to match any requirements for the position with your own professional work experience.
Step 3: Putting it all together
Your answer has to include any achievements in your previous jobs that are related to the position you’re applying for, along with details about what you want to accomplish if you’re hired for the job.
To help structure your answer you would definitely need to use the STAR method. STAR stands for Situation, Task, Action, and Result.
• Situation: Briefly talk or describe the situation you were in. This should be clear and concise.
• Task: Outline or explain the task you had to complete and what exactly you were liable for.
• Action: Highlight or describe what steps/ actions you took to make sure the tasks were completed.
• Result: What was the final result of the situation? Talk about your ultimate accomplishment. If you can, look for ways to quantify your success with numbers.
How to Identify your Core Values, Work Values, and Career Goals
We have an understanding of why work values are so important, so let’s see how job-seekers can identify their work values. After all, it’s not possible to identify an employer whose work values align closely with yours if you don’t first make efforts to articulate your core values.
Remember, your core work values are those principles that matter most to you which you’ll ultimately use as a guide to all or any of your future professional decisions and actions.
At first, many job applicants assume that identifying their core work values might be difficult because of the sheer number of values to choose from. But it’s much easier than you might think. It might be helpful to take time to think about what’s important to you, so be patient and attentive to what motivates and drives your thoughts and decisions.
To get an idea of what your core values might be, ask yourself these questions:
• What is your ideal work culture?
• What fulfills you about your job?
• What qualities do you admire in organizations?
• What’s important to you?
• What motivates/inspires you?
• What kind of culture do you want to work in?
• What settings or resources are necessary for you to do your best work?
• What qualities do you feel make healthy relationships?
• What qualities do you admire most in your role models?
• What motivates you?
• What qualities do you want to develop professionally and personally?
• What are your future goals? What qualities will it take to achieve them?
• What are the principles that matter to you the most?
Consider these and other questions that might inform what key values you want to prioritize in your job search, on the job, and in your life because if you think about any of these questions for even a flash, you’ll probably have a long list form in your head.
However, when it involves identifying core work values, it’ll be necessary to narrow that list right down to a manageable number. That way, your core work values are going to be numerous, but brief enough to remember easily.
Another practice you might try is printing out a physical copy of the list of core values above and sorting them into these categories: very important, important, and not important. Then, try selecting your top three very important values. Don’t think too critically during this activity, just go with your instincts and see what you come up with.
You can also use them as a guide to work toward your goals and advance your career.
Using your Core Values
Once you’ve defined a couple of core values to prioritize, you can use them in these ways:
1. Include core values in your resume
If you are updating or creating your resume, it will be helpful to list your core values that are relevant to the role you’re applying for.
2. Align your core values with companies when checking out job postings
Search for jobs at an organization that aligns with the type of work you want to do, the culture you want to be in, and the mission you want to work toward. Carefully go through the job description to see how your core values would be relevant and useful in the role, plus if the company’s mission and core values align with your own.
3. Discuss your core values during interviews
Many employers will ask questions about the qualities which are most important to you during interviews. These might be questions like, what motivates you? , what type of employee are you? Or why did you choose to apply here?. You can use your core values to answer these questions.
4. Use core values in the workplace
If you’ve got a job, you can use your core values to continue advancing in your role. Defining your goals clearly can help you make important decisions about your career like which industry you would like to be in or what short-term and long-term goals you ought to set.
Traits other than Work Values You should pay Attention to During a Job Search
As mentioned earlier, there are several factors that each job seeker should take under consideration while searching for a job. And as we’ve seen, personal core values are very important, and job candidates should carefully reflect on their core work values and also those of a prospective employer before submitting any job application.
There are some personal qualities that job candidates look for in a prospective employer and vice versa.
Take workplace culture, for instance. This is a vital aspect of any job opportunity, and yet it’s frequently overlooked. The culture of a workplace actually consists of the attitudes, rituals, behaviors, and intangible feelings that imbue an office or workplace with a specific feeling. It’s the overall quality or lack thereof of the employee experience.
For job applicants to take the time to find out more about a prospective employer’s workplace culture is as important as learning about their core work values. In fact, those two elements actually overlap and influence each other a lot along the way. If an employer values a healthy work/life balance, they’re less likely to oversee an organization that places unfair or unreasonable demands on their workforce.
In addition to core work values and workplace culture, job candidates should take their interests under consideration during any job search. Most times, a job candidate might accept an offer that pays well, and which aligns with their core values, but has nothing to do with their interests or long-term career goals. Someone passionate about automobiles, for instance, might accept a job as a store manager at a clothing store because she gets along well with the owner, and she needs a way to pay her monthly bills.
Now, there’s nothing wrong there because at least once, almost everyone has had the experience of working at a job more out of necessity than passion. But in the ideal scenario, you have to get a job that will provide you with good company and financial security, and knowledge with the skills you’ll need in order to excel in your chosen field. So before you accept any offer, ask yourself: Will this job allow me to develop the skills I need and will I be able to create the professional network that I’ll need to land my dream job or will my energy, time, and attention be better spent elsewhere?
In summary, finding the perfect job opportunity is about landing a good salary or gaining prestige. It’s also about finding a position where you can be your truest and most genuine self – a position where you can confidently express your core values and count on those being shared, at least to some degree, by your colleagues and managers.
To make this a reality, any job candidate needs to commit the time and effort well ahead of time to identify their core work values. Your core work values make you who you are, so don’t compromise them. Rather make them a priority because working for an employer whose core values do not align with your own is virtually guaranteed to lead to greater amounts of stress, anxiety, and dissatisfaction at work.