Why is it that so many companies continue to bring on employees with the perfect skills but fail when it comes to the perfect values? And what is really surprising to me is that this happens in both small and large companies. It seems that more often than not leaders struggle with developing a great performer to their highest potential. So often I hear leaders lamenting “He has such potential and I don’t understand why his performance isn’t meeting his potential”

Lost employee potential costs companies billions of dollars each year and yet executives continue to focus on the numbers more than their people. I can’t tell you how many conversations I have had over the years that have focused on performance shortfalls yet leaders don’t put the necessary energy behind getting the right people on the bus and in the right seats.

And one of the biggest mistakes made is the hiring of bright, skilled, successful professionals who don’t have the same values of the company. They have all the required skills and experience, yet the misalignment in values between them and the organization will never allow them to meet their full potential.

So how, during the interviewing process, can you figure out if there is a values match between the candidate and your company?  One way is to use a values assessment tool, which can highlight the values and drivers an individual believes and lives by which will influence work style as well as leadership style.

In addition to using assessment tools, a good set of behavioral interviewing questions can bring to light a candidate’s drivers and motivators that will lead to an employee’s success within a specific corporate culture.


For this conversation, you should have a clearly defined set of corporate values and your company culture will reflect your mission, vision, and values.

You will need all of these in order to develop sound questions to uncover the values aligned with your company’s values. So how do you start to create the questions?

1. Ask your current high performers AND those who have greater potential within your company the question “What are the values and behaviors that they believe make them successful in your organization?” Then ask those that work with the high performer/potentials how they would describe them.

When interviewing these star performers listen for the one or two-word descriptors of behaviors and values that help to demonstrate the values of the organization. Examples can include: dedicated, confident, transparent, friendly, learner, risk taker, etc.

2. You will then need to narrow the list to the top 3-5 behaviors that have the biggest impact on getting to your future vision and within your culture. Once you have narrowed the field then you can start to develop questions that would uncover past experiences that may demonstrate their friendliness, confidence, dedication, etc.

3. Define what would be potential good responses to the specific questions. What types of answers would an interviewer be listening for? It is important to have answers that the interviewer can use as a benchmark when interviewing.

4. The final step is to consistently integrate the questions into the recruiting process and train those who will be interviewing to actively listen for how the candidate responds to the questions. Even thought you have defined the “good responses”, there may be others you haven’t thought of before.

So the next time you hear yourself or someone else complaining that an employee isn’t meeting their potential, evaluate their values first.  But better yet, incorporate values based questions into the hiring process so your future potentials can reach their potential!