Mastering the Art of Values-Based Hiring in 6 Steps

There are companies who attract 20, 40, 60 or even 100 inspired candidates per open position. They can choose the right talent for their culture and create teams that perform 8x better than the average. What’s their secret? These companies implemented an approach that’s called values-based recruiting.

Values-based hiring or values-based recruitment is nothing new, but highly neglected. It is the most important approach to win top-talent of any generation. That’s because everyone is searching for meaning in their work-life and thus companies’ cultures. Values have become the key differentiator for employer attractiveness. Values-based hiring is the key to even activate people to change their jobs that are actually happy with their current employer.

Most companies still approach hiring with methods of the millennium. Values-based hiring helps to completely stick out of the mass of exchangeable talent marketing and uninspiring jobs. In this guide you’re going to discover how to move to values-based recruitment so that you win the best talent now without having to make major investments and make your recruitment process ready for 2023 and beyond.

Let's get started with the 6 steps.

1: Define Your Organization’s Core Values & Vision

Many companies have compelling values pinned to their lobby walls. For example integrity, respect, communication, excellence. So had Enron whose leaders went to jail and their company bankrupt from fraud.

I’m not talking about defining empty values that sound good. I’m talking about cultural values that are aligned to the company’s strategy and are lived proactively and are celebrated by employees. So here is what to do:

Get a narrative coach and uncover the life stories of the leaders of your company. Include the company management, the management of the departments and key individuals in the departments, employer branding specialists, recruiters and other HR functions. A big mistake is ONLY involving HR. Please, don’t do that! You need all functions engaged, especially the top management. 

From the life stories you deduct the shared values and vision of the company.

The run a values workshop with 3 steps

  1. Define the vision, purpose and the strategy
  2. Define the status quo - which values are lived today
  3. Deduct the target values from the company strategy - find out which behavioural patterns do you need to make the company strategy successful

Knowing the Now and the Future is very important for recruiting. High performing individuals love to see that they can contribute to a real transformation. And that involves culture as well.

Make sure that the values can form a culture that is exclusive. It needs to be not for everyone, only then it unchains its power [Forbes 2018].  

2: Define Vacancy Values

You already have your organizational values. But there is another step in values-based hiring. Think about it. Take two fresh graduates from university. One has studied law, the other informatics. Both of them will have different values, just because they studied in different fields. That means talent marketing always needs to adjust to the different target groups.

Your task is now to deduct the values needed from the business strategy for the law position. What do candidates for the specific position have to bring to the table to support the business strategy best. For the informatics position you’ll come up with a different set of values.

You also want to consider the team’s composition. What kind of character is it that the team could use to further optimize its collaborative skill. This requires an in-depth understanding of the current employees. Tools like the Predictive Index Behavioral Assessment that helps teams to understand its dynamics can help miracles.

3: Create a Vacancy Value Proposition

Fruit-basket, table tennis and flat hierarchies as benefits, really? When I read those things the first time over a decade ago, this evoked emotions in me. The wrong ones. First disbelief in humanity, then pity for the people that worked at those companies. But yet, even though these benefits were never a USP, they regularly pop up in today’s job ads. 

The reality is that no one finds them to be “benefits”. This shows that there is a lack of understanding of nowadays’ candidates. Companies need to understand better what candidates truly desire and then make one or several individualized job offers for each vacancy, depending on the candidate personas. This is the foundation of any kind of marketing as it is for talent marketing.

But what is it that ideal employees really want? The answer is, it depends. And that’s why listening is key. Here are 4 things you can do to gain more clarity. Conduct interviews with people that are close to the reality of the vacancy you want to fill and get inspired what advanced new work companies are doing:

  • Ask your best employees what it is that they really love about working in your company and what is missing? 

  • Ask the candidates in your next interviews what it is that is important to them in their life and in their work?

  • Ask best candidates of the past who you wanted to win but did not accept your job offer, what their goals, wishes and aspirations are?

  • Make a competitive benefit analysis, researching the job ads of new work companies

Now take this valuable knowledge and brainstorm and design company benefits that fit to the true aspirations of employees and candidates and that fit to the values of your company. But be careful, these benefits will be explosive! And I bet the good old fruit-basket will not be one of them.

4: Let the Magic Happen

Now we have everything we need to let the magic happen. The core values, the vacancy values, the vision, an understanding of the reality of the target-groups and an attractive vacancy value proposition. What’s next? We need to transform the knowledge into catchy content and publish it. And we need to do it in a way so that this can happen:

This video is an example of successful pull-marketing. When ideal candidates feel that you know who they are, they identify already with the job description and with your company. As a consequence you don’t have to spam their inboxes to get an audience. Instead, they will come to you. Candidates will invest their time and energy to get the possibility of what they imagine is a big chance for the work-life. They will even take time to do assessment tasks that you give to them before they apply.

That’s the power of understanding the reality of the talent you are targeting and offering them a value-proposition they can’t resist. And surprise, it’s actually not magic. It’s just thorough and methodical marketing that leads to a better perceived employer attractiveness and higher performing squads.

When you communicate your values in talent marketing content and job ads, candidates can faster assess if the culture is a match to them. That means they pre-qualify themselves and you have significantly more applications from people who might be a value match and less from those who don’t.

Existential Tip for Values in Talent Marketing

Never communicate values like this: “Our company values are honesty, excellence and balance”. That’s close to the wallpaper of crappy workplaces. Convey values through stories, imagery, tone of voice and moods. Design your recruiting process so that it fits your company's values.

5: Start Selling

Applications are piling up and after pre-evaluation you’re inviting the first candidates to interviews. What do you do? As a modern recruiter you adopt the mindset of a sales expert. Not a sales expert of the 80s doing hard selling. Instead be an empathetic sales expert that listens to what the candidate really wants in life and then connects it to the employer value proposition. 

Inspire candidates with a vision of how his life will develop if she starts working in your company. And most importantly. Build trust. Let your opponent subconsciously know that you are sincerely interested in her wellbeing and that you want to find out together if the position and company fit the candidate.

4 Essential Tips for a Candidate Sales Call

  • Have a deep understanding of the position
  • Be able to talk in the language of the candidates’ world
  • Explain honestly where the company is right now and how the vision looks like (strategically, culturally and in the team)
  • Communicate on eye-level, always. Never below and never above.

6: Assess the Values-Match & Add

So, your recruiting pipeline is already full with amazing candidates that love and identify with your talent marketing content. But how do you determine, aside from skills and expertise, if a candidate is a true values-match and -add? 

Here are 3 essential ways for values mapping:

  1. Deduct a list of values-based interview questions from the company values. They will help you determine if the candidate lives individual values you are looking for. 
  2. Use personality assessment tools which help to get the deep talk started. However, avoid pseudo scientific tools like the Meyers Briggs that comes close to a horoscope. You might check out the Predictive Behavioral Assessment.
  3. Listen to your intuition. If on paper everything seems fine, but it doesn’t feel right, don’t proceed with the candidate. You have enough applicants anyways and you want to find the best fit.


Want to turn your company into a talent destination? Secure the Espresso Booklet, "The Surprising Recruiting Mistake That Costs You 95% Applicants". Discover the pivotal mindset shift that enhances your recruiting, without spending extra on job ads. Unleash your full talent-attracting potential!
The Author
Marc Eichner
Founder VALUED
  • Serial-Entrepreneur & Talent Marketing Specialist
  • Featured in Washington Post, Sueddeutsche Zeitung
  • Founder of the Monetizing Individuality Community

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