Picture this, you just finished your final interview at a company that you thought was your dream company, but something isn’t sitting right with you. On paper, it all works: Salary, location, the team structure…but what’s missing?
Perhaps this role isn’t aligned with your values. Values are an important part of making effective career decisions, and are often overlooked.
It’s likely you’ll find a role that fits most of your values, but there may be some values that you weigh higher than others. Values will also change over time! Let’s take some time to explore values as they relate to your career, and how you can make sure you are making aligned career choices.
What are my values?
Values are the beliefs, philosophies, and principles that help propel you forward. From the lens of careers, they help you determine where you want to work, how you get there, what you prioritize, and even how you act in the workplace.
Some examples of values:
How did reviewing this list feel? Perhaps it brought up memories of past roles, past leaders, or even interviews. If it helped you think of other values you are curious you might hold, write them down!
Reflection: Start to write down a list of what you think might be your own values. Give yourself freedom and flexibility to write down whatever comes to mind. This list is just for you and doesn’t have to be perfect!
Once you have your list, consider the following questions:
- Is this who I am at my best?
- Is this who I currently am at work?
- Is this who I want to be at work?
- Am I living out this value in my current role?
How values change over time
If you’re like me, perhaps you’ve had a friend or colleague in the past say something like this: “I’ll take any job, as long as I’m making -dollar value-”. Now, they may be in a role where they are not making that amount of money, but they are happy and fulfilled. What changed? Perhaps their values around money or finances.
Our values can be fluid and change over time. The values you held 5 years ago may be vastly different than what they are today. If they haven’t changed that much, that’s OK! As time passes, we may start to form different opinions about the places we work, the importance of different factors around work, and the field(s) we are a part of.
Reflection: Think back on your career 5 years ago (or as far back as you’d like).
- Can you identify any values you had that you still hold?
- Can you identify any values you had that have changed?
- Why do you think those values did/didn’t change?
Articulating your values to others (team members, interviewers, peers)
How many job descriptions have you read that include statements like this…
- Inquisitive by default, we explore every possibility, test every assumption, and develop creative solutions to the challenges at hand.
- We are committed to building and fostering an environment where our employees feel included, valued, and heard.
- Our company is more than just a business. We’re a tight-knit team supporting each other.
These are all instances of companies articulating their values to others!
One of the key things that interviewers assess is alignment on values between you and the company. This means that how you articulate your values to others can mean the difference between getting called back for an additional interview or receiving a rejection letter.
The best way to come prepared to answer any values based questions is getting clear on your own values! You might consider using tools like Values Cards to get crystal clear on your values before starting the job search process. Having a clear understanding of your values helps you:
- Seek out roles that are aligned with your current values
- Articulate your values in the interview process
- Determine what questions to ask/look for in the interview process to understand if a role/company is aligned with your values.
Next time you are searching for a new role, try this exercise:
- Gather as much information as you can about the company
- Look at employee’s LinkedIn profiles
- Review job descriptions
- Check out the careers page to learn more about company culture and benefits
- Based on your research, what are the top 5 values of this company?
- Do the values you were able to identify align with yours? Why or why not?
- Are you able to think of stories or instances of how you are living out your values at work?
- Having these stories on hand can be beneficial to help interviewers understand how you exemplify your values!
Questions to Ask in an Interview
Many of us prepare for interviews by creating answers to questions we think will be asked of us. We encourage you to step into the power that you have in an interview. While the company is trying to determine if you are a good fit, you are also in an interview to do the same of them.
The following are some examples for questions you can ask during the interview process to determine a company’s values. These can be asked to a manager or to other team managers about management/leadership teams:
|Can you share an example of how you ensure everyone’s voices are heard before making a decision that affects the team?
|How do you ensure the team is leaning on each other as resources to solve problems?
|What cadence of feedback can I expect, and what mediums are used to deliver coaching and feedback?
|Can you give me examples of how you foster trust and open communication?
However you choose to ask these probing questions based on the values that are important to you, it’s encouraged that you listen for the interviewer to provide concrete examples so you can be certain they share and prioritize your values.
Values are a dynamic facet of our careers, and having a clear understanding of them can help us find fulfillment and joy in the roles we hold. We hope you are able to carve out some time for self-reflection!
Pay it forward: Once you determine your values, share them with us! And follow us on LinkedIn to keep up to date on future blog posts about career transitions.