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Are you ready for the character interview?


Increasingly, employers are looking to hire candidates who reflect the character and values that are a good fit for their company. They know that hiring staff with certain characteristics is key to help them avoid costly recruitment mistakes. This is not to say that employers aren’t focused on ensuring candidates have the right experience of course, however that is really just the beginning.

Employers and hiring managers will look hard at a candidate’s character, particularly in instances where they find they need to choose between equally qualified candidates. So, with this in mind, are you prepared for a character interview?

I have all the right skills and experience, so why is character so important?!

Hiring candidates who have the right type of personality and values will raise an organisation’s retention rates and productivity, because employees who fit with the company’s culture will be more likely to be happy working for them, making them much more productive as a result. They also:

  • Stay longer in their positions
  • Are more focused on their work
  • Have lower sickness and absence rates
  • Are more motivated and believe that they’re achieving their potential

You need to show employers that your character and personality is aligned with the company culture and purpose. Employers will want to hear about your life experience, attitude and values.  Taking a purely competency-based approach to job applications and at interview is becoming insufficient to stand out. Your values and beliefs can be the key differentiators.

Top Tip for Interview Preparation:

Can you outline the company’s corporate culture, purpose and values?

Remember that the interview process works both ways…

What are the most important factors when jobseekers are choosing a company to work for? Salary and reward package? Job title? Growth potential or progression opportunities? These things are all important, yet today’s jobseekers and candidates are seeking out companies that not only have strong mission statements, but the ones that live out their mission statements.

Jobseekers are also doing much more to make sure they’re identifying a company culture that will suit them. People are also more willing than ever to leave their current job for a company with a better reputation or culture, even if that means their pay will stay the same or even lessen.

What today’s jobseekers want from employers:

There is a growing trend for employees (particularly millennials) to want to connect to the work they are doing and the meaning behind it. Jobseekers are looking for employers who show that they operate ethically, are fair and who appreciate the importance of their employees’ work-life balance.

Employers or interviewers should be prepared to answer questions about the company’s culture, vision, and values. Don’t be afraid to ask what these company values will mean to you as an employee.

Prepare yourself for the character interview

Employability expert David Shindler came up with this very handy ‘WISH’ strategy to help guide candidates prepare for character and values based interview questions.

(adapted from David Shindler’s ‘Learning to Leap’)

What not to say in the interview:

Try and avoid cliché responses that could easily come across as being false, such as:

“I‘m so passionate about…. XYZ/your industry/your business.”

Instead, show your passion in conversation. Give real examples of your passion being implemented through your work and past achievements. When you give real examples, you’ll naturally show sincerity and conviction through your body language and tone of voice.

Have you experienced character based questions at interview? How did you get on? What do you think about employers assessing your personality and values? Should the selection process be purely competency based? We’d love to hear your thoughts, tweet us @S2Recruitment.

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