how to retain employees, employee retention, employee retention technique, employee retention method, employee retention

How to Hire for Values and Retain 87% of Your Employees

Picture this. You have shortlisted 2 stellar candidates running for a position in your company. On paper, both have a great deal of relevant experience, solid education, and some...

Picture this.

You have shortlisted 2 stellar candidates running for a position in your company.

On paper, both have a great deal of relevant experience, solid education, and some praiseful references to back things up.

One of them will soon become an A+ player introducing all sorts of initiatives making a tangible impact on the company’s bottom line.

The other will join the company’s ranks, do an OK job and leave soon after they hit the 12-month mark. And that will manifest in attrition.

The question is how do you separate the wheat from the chaff? How do you tell which is which?

This is what this guide is designed to address.

Today, you will learn how Zety went from a retention rate of 67% to 87% and how you can do the exact same thing through value-based hiring.

Hire for Culture Fit & Train for Skill

Values-based hiring is about identifying how a person’s core values align with those of the company.

Basically, what this means is looking for people who are not necessarily seasoned workers with lots of skills and accomplishments but who are smart, motivated to learn and who could one day become the carriers of your culture.

Now, you might ask: Isn’t it better to hire someone who already has the skill set and experience you need?

Well, not exactly. At least not according to companies like Starbucks, Zappos, Patagonia, which make values-driven hiring decisions only.

You can always train a person to do their job, but it is much more difficult to teach a person to share your organization’s core values.

Not only are the risks associated with poor cultural fit arguably higher, the ability of the company to address and correct cultural disconnects is typically less than its ability to address gaps in skill   Mike Cox, President at Cox Innovations.

This is particularly true if you are scouting for talent with rare skills.

Here is an example.

Several months ago, Zety started looking for outreach specialists. In Poland, hardly anyone knows what outreach is. We couldn’t just collect a bunch of résumés and use AI for keyword matching.

Instead, we had to come up with different positions — most of which were PR and sales  — that required people to handle outreach-related activities.

We then zeroed in on candidates that could potentially cater to our needs based on their previous experience as well as their work values. Essentially, it enabled us to find hidden gems and have homegrown talent who soon became start players.

If you go for a cultural fit over skill in your recruitment process, you will hire people who will perform a fantastic job in their role, which will help you drive growth as well as prevent rockstar employees from jumping ship.

Besides, you won’t be part of 87% of companies dealing with culture and engagement issues in the workplace.

So how do YOU start attracting your next superstar employee?

(Also read – Why employees switch job and how to retain them)

Put Across Your Company Values in the Job Openings

Make sure your job openings communicate clearly your company’s values, objections, and goals to job seekers. This will help you reduce the candidate pool by stating upfront your expectations.

  • Integrate your company’s mission statement in the intro or the footer.

E.g., We want to create the best career advice website on the planet connecting employees with job seekers.

  • Describe your company’s culture along with its core values.

E.g., We work in a collaborative environment where everyone is willing to offer a helping hand. And transparency is a value shared among all of our people.

  • When listing qualifications for the job, make sure you include the competencies that you value the most.

E.g., Entrepreneurial spirit, accountability, and flexibility etc.

Know What You’re Evaluating with the Right Interview Questions

During the interview, put across your values and ask open-ended questions revolving around the values of your company.

This will help you understand:

  • If the candidate’s priorities align with your culture;
  • What the candidate’s priorities are in the workplace;
  • What drives their behaviors at work.

Let’s say your company’s values are transparency, teamwork, ownership, and commitment.

Here are some examples of value-based interview questions:


  • What was the biggest failure in your career?

Inevitably, any candidate who has a certain deal of work experience failed at one point or another.

If the candidate has difficulty talking about major missteps, this is typically not a good sign. Because talking about one’s professional failures shows how transparent they are willing to be.

On the other hand, if the interviewee can admit that yes, they made a mistake in the past but they had a transformative, firsthand learning experience backed up by evidence that followed that, that’s definitely a good sign of integrity.


  • Could you tell me a bit about your experience working on a team?

This one is architected to be an open-ended question because it doesn’t give away the right or the wrong answer.
However, you need to keep in mind is that different companies perceive teamwork differently.

Here’s an example:

Let’s say there is a Company A. They mostly have teams of 6 people who are used to operating under a conflict-based management style. It is common for the team members to compete with each other with individual recognition being a huge driver of the staff performance.

There is also a Company B. They have tightly-knit groups of people that work in concert to deliver on the shared project. It’s quite common for the team members to go out as a group to do something for fun together.

See the difference? What works for one company could be a total disaster in another.

With that in mind, let’s get back to the question: Could you tell me a bit about your experience working on a team?

If you hear the candidate say that they can’t think of a particular experience or they give you some fluff about what it’s like working on a team in general, you are facing a low performer.

Consider ending the interview because nothing good will ever come from that.

Also, if your line managers don’t exercise conflict-based management and the candidate mentions that team competition is crucial for them, they might not be a good fit either.

However, if the person gives you his experience of working in a team that’s aligned with your definition of teamwork backing up each statement with their individual experience, you know you’ve struck real gold.


  • Tell me about a time you went above and beyond

This is a good question to probe the candidate’s leadership skills and whether or not the person is willing to do everything it takes to get the job done.

Now, if the candidate can paint a picture to you adding as many details as possible about a time when they did more than they were supposed to do — great! You are on the right track.

If the person hesitates and tries to fluff up their answer, that’s clearly a red flag for you.


  • What aspects of the job do you think you will like and dislike?

This is a tough question but it will give you some insight into whether or not the candidate will enjoy the position they want to fill. If the person is excited about the aspects of their work they will be the most involved into — that’s great. It means they’re passionate about it.

But if they say they’ll be OK or even dislike some crucial parts in their day-to-day responsibilities, this could be a major problem — a paycheck is what matters to them.

Run a Thorough Reference Check

Now, you have successfully interviewed your candidate and developed a strong understanding of their fit.

Next, you need actual data to prove what they said in the interview was actually true. And this is when backchanneling comes into play.

You want to reach out to 2-5 people from the candidate’s past to learn primarily about their contributions and how well they worked with others.
Here are some questions you want to ask:

How was this person perceived by others? Essentially, this is a better way of asking what they think of the person. Because the reference on the other side will have permission to be more honest to talk about potential red flags.

If you were me, what would you like me to know about the person? This gives your reference the freedom to share whatever it is on their mind about the candidate. It is a good question to ask at the beginning of the conversation because it can unlock more unexpected conversations.

If you were to work with this person again, would be you be more or less excited? This particular question puts the reference in the hiring position, which potentially can make their answer more honest.

If I were to convince myself that this person is the best to hire, who do you reckon I should speak with? This will help you build a set of references and have a cumulative picture of the candidate.

Importantly, the point behind asking these questions is not to dig for dirt. Everyone has something they wish they could change. The point here is to understand the spectrum of the bad and the good.
In the end, running a thorough background check will help you make sure that the candidate is actually a great fit before you actually pull the trigger.

(Also read – How emerging technologies can improve hiring and employee retention process)

Bottom Line

We have shown you some actionable strategies used by Zety that you can leverage to hire employees for fit.

In the end, people who embrace their values will go on to become your culture ambassadors. This will allow for more productive teams, more cohesiveness and higher employee longevity.

Remember, hire for culture first, and skill second.

Download Free eBook – 9 ways to hire developers

How to Hire for Values and Retain 87% of Your Employees
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How to Hire for Values and Retain 87% of Your Employees
How to retain employees? This guide talks about on how to hire cultural fit and then train them. Asking write questions in interview and evaluating teamwork
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