Values-based Questions

Lesson 2: Topic 9 of 14

An example would be to pose the question, “Tell me about a failure on the job you’ve experienced.” Answers will fall into one of three categories: “I’m not the type that makes mistakes/It’s never happened;” “This is what happened, and as a result I will not attempt that again;” and “I did this, here’s how it fell flat, and here is how I handle it differently now.” Someone who gives the first reply is either lying, or horribly lacking in self-awareness. The second reply indicates an employee who’s been badly burned and/or is extremely risk-averse. Either of the first two answers could indicate this prospect is prone to blame others and not be a collaborative employee. 

The third reply shows the greatest potential for a good new hire, one who accepts responsibility and shows an ability to learn.

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Values-based questions, and the resulting feedback, will yield the most critical insight if answered thoroughly. Here are a few more you could ask:

Could you give me an example of how you have dealt with a steep learning curve in a work situation? In their answer, the applicant may reflect determination, flexibility, and resourcefulness. They might relate a story of learning or creating a new system, or solving a problem. Ask them to elaborate on the details if they do not offer enough information. If the candidate presents themselves as incapable, not given enough resources, or another scenario which prevented them from completing the learning task, you most likely have a dealbreaker response. 

Tell me about a conflict situation you needed to engage at work. This is an opportunity to hear about mature responses toward others when there is disagreement or failure.

There are many people who are smart enough and skilled enough to do the job, but lack the “soft skills” needed to get along with coworkers.