Expert Advice of the Month: Match your hire to your company’s values

This month we talk with Walter Pranke, vice president, human resources at Lee Valley Tools, a chain of tool and gift stores based in Ottawa.

Getting the right people for your company means more than matching up work experience and job skills. The values of a potential new hire must align with your company’s.

“It’s very important, first and foremost, for an organization to really define and articulate the values and goals it holds corporately,” says Walter. “You have to ask the question, ‘why do we exist.’ Then, line up what type of person and kind of personality is best suited to fit that.”

In the hiring process, that can mean landing on specific interview topics. For example, says Walter, if your company’s values include a passion for your customers, some of the questions can address the candidate’s own relationship with customers at their current position. If they indicate a similar enthusiasm here, that will be a good sign. If they tend to bring up the challenges of working with customers and dealing with their concerns or complaints, you might consider that a warning sign that this individual’s values won’t align with your company’s—even if they possess the right skills and experience.

Another example, says Walter, may relate to your company’s team environment. If your company embraces a culture that prizes teamwork, there are things to watch for during hiring.

“If the person keeps using ‘I’ to describe their past work experience and achievements, they may lack the capacity to work with others.” You have to ask, ‘Are they more focused on promoting themselves?’

There are ways to proactively stream the interview process to get at the underlying values of a candidate to determine whether they align with yours. “But it all comes down to identifying just what your company’s own culture and values are.”