When it comes to finding a new gig, there’s a big difference between value and values. Value is essentially the return on investment for the employer hiring you. It’s how you help the organization reach its goals and achieve its mission. Values are the standards and beliefs that determine how you live your life and make decisions on a day-to-day basis. Organizational values guide a company’s thinking and actions. They lay the framework for employee behavior and become the foundation for company culture. Values may also be the driving force between who does and doesn’t get the job.
In prepping for an interview, many of us spend time reviewing our resumes and becoming masters of the “tell me about a time when” questions. We prepare answers in advance that will show the interviewer the value we’ll add to the organization if they hire us. We can speak about why we’ve moved from job to job. We can reiterate our objective statement. We can make sure our suits are on point, that our shoes are shined, that our heels allow us to stride with confidence, and that we arrive for the interview 10 to 15 minutes early.
But how much time do we spend refreshing ourselves on the organization’s values and how they align with our own? How much time do we spend practicing the articulation of the things that make us, us? Your ability to answer these questions could be the difference between a new cube and the return to forever. Word to Big Krit.
If there’s one question you should be prepared to answer directly or indirectly, it’s “Why do you think you’re the best fit for the job?” This question is a huge opportunity not only to show how you’ll add value, but how you will fit within the company’s culture over the long term. Some interviewers will listen to see if you answer it without provocation. Others will ask you directly.
You should note that it’s not all in the words that come from your mouth. It’s also in the enthusiasm that seeps from your pores. When something resonates with our values, it draws out our passion and creates an emotional connection. Our fervor is evident and it becomes infectious. That’s what interviewers want to see and hear. They want to be reminded why they work for the company themselves.
When your values are similar to their own and the organization’s, you become a better fit, which is a big factor in determining your ability to succeed in the company long term. Values should also play a big role in why you want this job and not just any job. Let me provide a brief story to illustrate the importance.
Two and a half years ago, I was living in Boston and working for an organization with which my values ultimately didn’t align. I wanted to move to New York City…during the recession…when there were already tons of people there that had more experience than me and certifications to back it up.
A friend living in New York forwarded me a job description that raised my eyebrows. Turns out it was exactly the type of role I was looking for and in an organization I was genuinely excited about.
So what did I do? I researched like I had never researched before.
I went to the website, found their mission statement, company values and examples of their work to see what their customers and partners had to say about them. I made sure that I could identify specific examples that resonated with my own values. I found examples in my experience that resonated with theirs. I was confident that I could convey my enthusiasm in the cover letter and speak passionately about in an interview. And guess what? I got an interview. Then a second. Then a third. Then I got an offer for the job. I started a week later.
After a month at the new job, I asked my boss what made him choose me. His answer was simple:
“Your values alignment and fit within our culture. You weren’t the most experienced or skilled candidate, but you were the type of person I and the rest of the team could easily work with. You were just as passionate about the work as the rest of us.”
Rich Jones is a Pathfinder for Professionals with a knack for helping the wayward determine the next steps of their careers. He’s also a certified professional in Human Resources with for-profit and non-profit recruiting experience. Check Rich out on his career blog. I Am Rich Jones.