Hiring for “culture” is commonly held as a positive approach when it comes to attracting new employees in the animal health field. Yet that approach can be a double-edge sword that limits diversity since many people take that to mean hiring someone they’d like to hang out with (which usually means someone from a similar socio-economic and racial background.). Also, “company culture” is used to describe how organizations work, but business practices change over time. Hiring based on values can be a more effective approach that is consistent and won’t hinder diversity.

Clearly Define Values

Where do you begin to hire based on values? The first step is to clearly define what your organization’s values are. You can’t just list the values and expect employees to work according to them. Everyone interprets values differently. You have to clarify what behaviors go along with each value. Having clear values and behavioral expectations will allow you to shape interview questions to identify candidates who have the kind of behaviors you want in an employee.

Prioritize Values When Hiring

Many employers try to find candidates whose skills and experiences match the position, but finding candidates who have the right values is even more important. People can learn new skills easily; changing values and behavioral patterns is much harder. Interviews should focus on assessing values. You can learn about the candidate’s skills by reading their resume. But to understand how they will perform in the job you have to ask questions that provide you insights into how the candidate behaves. Can they communicate to other team members in a way that is easily understood? Can they understand problems and find clever solutions? These are the types of questions that will tell you if a candidate is a good fit for your company.

Take Advantage of Onboarding

Once you have hired a candidate who is a good fit, the next step is to demonstrate the behaviors that go along with the organization’s values. Your company’s onboarding process should emphasize the company’s values and what those values look like in practice. Have an open-door policy so new hires will feel comfortable asking any questions about the values and expectations. They should finish the onboarding process with a clear understanding of what behaviors they need to exhibit if they want to succeed in the company.

Although the recent trend has been to hire for cultural fit, this approach can be limiting due to the evolving nature of company culture and the potential for it to diminish diversity. Instead, take steps to find employees who have the deeper values that fit with your organization.

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