Using Values-Based Hiring to Tackle Digital Transformation
By Laura Mather, Founder & CEO, Unitive

Today, every industry is being affected by digital transformation – none more so than the media. HBO started a streaming service, HBO Now, Netflix began producing its own content and SNL is releasing made-for-Snapchat shorts. Companies with previously solid and predictable business strategies need to be able to make creative and unorthodox moves if they want to stay relevant and profitable.
 
To make these pivots, companies need to have solid, aligned and effective teams. They need employees that bring together a wide range of experiences, and they need to look beyond their standard measures for who will be successful. Media companies need more than experienced TV minds: they need software developers, engineers, creative thinkers and fresh perspectives.
 
What’s more, the risk of making a bad hire just went up. Bad hires are costly in normal business environments, but in climates like our current one – where every company is racing to keep up with technological advancements and evolving customer expectations – bad hires are exponentially detrimental.
 
Many hiring teams still use traditional processes where hiring managers rely on their “gut feeling” about a candidate to make a hiring decision. Unfortunately, research shows “gut feelings” are frequently inaccurate and based on unrelated (and non-predictive) factors like appearance, educational background or gender. If you want hires who will drive your company’s digital transformation, then your hiring teams will have to step out of their comfort zones to consider a broader, more diverse array of candidates with different backgrounds, skills and experiences.
 
So how can your organization implement hiring best practices, eliminate unconscious biases and align your entire hiring team? The answer is technology supported, values-based hiring.
 
Aligning Teams and Your Hiring Process with Values
Many companies looking to make consistently great hires attempt to achieve that elusive “culture fit.” Unfortunately, hiring for fit often just becomes hiring for the most familiar applicant or the applicant who looks the most like everyone already working at the company. This approach yields homogeneous teams — which studies show are less effective than their more diverse counterparts — and lets great candidates get away. Using values to guide your hiring process allows you to hire diverse teams while creating a cohesive culture that shares a unifying set of goals and principles. Here are the 3 steps you need to implement values-based hiring at your company:
 
1. Clarify the Values that Matter Most  
Your values may not be printed on your website or hung in your organization’s lobby, but every company has a unique set of values that define their approach to work and workplace culture.
 
HBO was able to weather huge changes in the television industry because they have a strong company culture. While that culture was never codified into a defined set of values, it was clearly affecting their hiring success. While some people thrive at the organization – often staying for decades – other, perfectly promising candidates would flounder and leave because they didn’t understand the culture or felt they didn’t quite fit. So when we started working with HBO to improve their hiring practices, we knew we had to design something that captured the company’s distinctive style and set of values.
 
First, we discussed what worked at the company, what tone was set by CEO Richard Plepler and what kept executives at the company. From those conversations, we distilled a few important values including collaborative work, clear communication between employees and a strong emphasis on personal relationships.
 
Formalizing those values helps give employees a roadmap for hiring that’s focused more on the qualities that make candidates successful, instead of unrelated factors like where they went to college or what fraternity they joined.

“What became clear to us while working with Unitive was that assessing for ‘fit’ doesn’t have to be difficult,” says Stella Park, HBO’s VP of Talent Acquisition. “Our hiring managers can use this tool to augment a process that can all-too-often be a subjective assessment. The Unitive tool reiterates the core principles of identifying a successful candidate through objective measures.”  

2. Bring Your Core Values to the Interview
Once you’ve clarified the values that matter most for new hires, use those values to structure your interview process. Instead of asking generalized questions an applicant might hear at any interview, ask questions that demonstrate what’s unique about your company’s values and priorities and ask for a behavior-based response. Instead of just telling you what they think, applicants will be urged to give examples of specific actions or approaches they’ve taken.
 
For example, if personal relationships are an important part of your company culture, instead of asking, “what are your greatest weaknesses?” try something more specific like, “give an example of a time you struggled with a coworker? How did you resolve the situation?”
 
3. Integrate With Technology
While it’s easy to think about structuring your interviews, it’s harder to implement that change consistently across an entire company. Software can help structure your hiring process from start to finish: operationalizing the best practices you always hear about but may struggle to incorporate into your process.
 
Using a single platform gives everyone involved in the hiring process, from the HR director to the recruiter, the same tools and guides. This approach emphasizes a set of practices and codifies interview and resume review techniques, ensuring that every hiring manager writes better, more accurate job descriptions, that every recruiter uses the same, structured interview questions and that every member of the team is aligned and driven by the same set of priorities and practices.

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