How do you hire great people & develop core values?

Hiring based on core values

Hiring great people that fit the organization and exemplify your core values is one tough code to crack. In the past, we almost always hired on skill, background, work history, or even went to the blast from the past, rolodex (we don’t recommend this option). Over time, we started to notice we needed to hire based on core values and years ago when we had this concept, we didn’t really know what core values were. I personally didn’t have a good taste in my mouth when I heard the word “core values” because it made me think of those cheesy posters in an office with an eagle flying and something like “integrity” written at the bottom.

The word “core values” never resonated with me because it felt so forced, or fake. But one day it hit me… core values are not something that you aspire to be, core values are something that ARE. These values already exist within your organization and are innately true to you.

This realization changed my outlook and then the culture of our business. We became stronger, more united, and we finally had a clear filter to measure every new hire against. To get to this place, you have to be honest with yourself and your team. So here are a few things to think about:

How do you develop core values?

Step back as a leader and think about what makes your company, your company. In our case, what makes MountainSeed, MountainSeed? If it’s just appraisals, well then that’s not really a core value. Is it that we have integrity? I think every company should have integrity as a barrier to entry, because you’re not going to hire a person that doesn’t show some form of honesty. If you don’t trust them, you won’t hire them.

For example, a core value might be sense of urgency. When you walk through the halls of an organization, you know if the company has a sense of urgency. I know of a great company here in Atlanta, called Kabbage, that talks about being self-aware. The theory is that you walk into an organization and you see people that all have these core things that are unique to them.

So how does this apply to hiring employees?

One of the things that we do at MountainSeed as a part of our hiring process is a core values interview. During this interview we have a team of people that aren’t associated with that job role see if there’s a culture fit or core values fit. For example, if we’re hiring a commercial appraisal reviewer this core values interview will have no reviewers in it but will have people from other departments that they may not interface on a regular basis.

In these interviews, our team asks a series of questions that point back to our core values. If one of our core values is to be a self-starter, we may ask something like “Give us a time in a previous job where there was something going on that you knew should be fixed so you went ahead and fixed it?” We are not going to come out and ask if you are a self-starter because anyone in an interview is, of course, going to say yes. We are going to lead with a question that’s going to start to nail down if this person has this particular core value.

We’ve found these core value interviews to be a game-changer. The people that we didn’t hire because they weren’t a core values fit was probably one of the greatest gifts to the organization that I as a leader could give the company. So often you hire people and then a few weeks in or even a few month or years later you think “there’s just something about that person that is bugging me, they just don’t fit here.” A lot of that obstacle can be dealt with in a core values interview because we believe at MountainSeed, if you can get someone who’s a core values fit, you can train technical expertise.

Plenty of people will have the technical experience you’re looking for, but if they don’t have the core values, you are setting yourself up for failure. When you make core values a barrier to entry into your organization, you’ve unlocked a primary key to hiring great people.

– Carl Streck, CEO and Co-Founder of MountainSeed