What makes for a good employee? When you see hundreds of resumes and meet multiple candidates for a quick 50-minute interview, how do you know if they are the ONE? Hiring a new employee can be a critical decision that can be the difference between your organization flourishing or floundering. 

It is not unlike any other relationship. Whether it is a personal or professional relationship, the success or failure is based on values. Shared values, the ideals and principles held in common, are at the root of every meaningful relationship. They are the glue that bonds two people together. A successful marriage is a result of a having shared values. That doesn’t mean that a couple must be a carbon copy of one another, but the values that are most significant to them are almost always the ones held in common.

When you are hiring a new employee, you don’t have the luxury of dating and learning about each other over a long courtship. So, is there a way to tell if your prospective colleague has the qualities that will make for a meaningful relationship? There is. And it is all based on shared values.


First, you need to make sure your organization has a set of distinctive values. Many companies have a set of values, but they are often very vague and common or compliant values like Excellence, Quality, Honesty, Efficiency, etc.  While these may be important to your company’s operations, they don’t set you apart. Virtually all companies want to be Excellent and Honest.  Your values need to be distinctive. They need to differentiate you by expressing your vision and philosophies that delineate your reason to be – and ultimately characterize the culture or the organization.

The values-driving marketing agency Amusement Park states their values as Fearlessness, Diversity, Imagination, Belief, Joy and Character.  That certainly defines the culture in a way that sets them apart from the typical Madison Avenue agency that speaks about themselves as simply Creative, Collaborative and Integrated.

Once you have these truly differentiating values identified, you can then begin to look for candidates that possess similar and complementary values. Most of the time hiring managers are obsessed with hiring someone that has very specific job qualifications. And frankly, it is easy to look at a resume and find out if a candidate has the experience and category knowledge that will help them excel in the job. But having the right experience is generally not the best predictor of a candidate’s success.

Success comes faster when a new employee is a good fit with your culture and is immediately engaged, motivated and has a sense of belonging.  They will get that from feeling a sense of shared values. We know that historically, companies whose employees are engaged have 18% higher productivity, 16% greater profitability and their customers are 12% more satisfied.1 


Finding a candidate that shares your values starts with how you present yourself. If you express your values in your public outreach, you will attract people who identify with your values. Is it any wonder that most Patagonia employees care deeply about the preservation of the planet?  Yvon Chouinard’s mission and values are all about using business to inspire and implement solutions to the environmental crisis. This company clearly uses their values to serve as a catalyst for corporate and personal actions but also acts to attract people who are the right fit.  


Your interview process should refrain from strictly being about their experience, and instead focus on unearthing the candidate’s personal values. If you can suss their values out, you can better assess their suitability and likelihood of being successful.   Beyond that there are professional tools, like the renowned Harrison Assessments that can help you identify how well a candidate values align with those of your organization. 

When there is the right fit with a new employee, you get so many benefits. When they feel connected by values statistics show that you will have 25% less turnover, 37% less missed days, 49% fewer safety incidents and 60% reduction in quality defects and errors.1 When you find the right employee through a shared-values process, it is like finding your company’s soulmate.


1 Sources: Greenberg & Arawaka, Seligman, Joyworks, Gallup 2014, Forbes