What’s the Value in Values-Based Hiring?: A Blog by Courtnay Sanderfer

As a Human Resources leader, I believe people are an organization’s biggest asset and are vital to the success of a company.  Based on this belief, it is extremely important to find the right people to help achieve the organization’s vision.  If someone asked me five years ago what I look for most when trying to hire the right person for a position, I would have said knowledge and experience.  While these two things are important, I have learned hiring for the organization by aligning them with our company’s core values has so much more of an impact.  Here is why:

Hiring to the organization’s core values:

  1. Aligns the workforce with company culture

You can teach skill, but you cannot teach culture.  The organization’s culture is built by the people, and it starts with core values and exhibiting behaviors aligned with those values.  After all, the saying is true; hiring is like dating.  For any long-term relationship to be successful, it is important for values to be aligned or there will be trouble in the relationship.  For example, if collaboration is a core value for your company and you hire someone that does not see the importance of working together, the relationship will not be successful or last for any significant length of time.  It could even cause discourse and heartache to others in the organization, which could have a lasting negative effect.  

Skills and experience are necessary, but the focus on those can come later.  Think of putting values first in the candidate vetting process. To successfully align your workforce with company culture, you have to make sure your culture promotes the long-term success of its employees. If a company sees employees as a short-term fix, your values will not align, and the full impact of values-based hiring will be lost. 

        2. Ensures consistency across hiring managers

Consistency is key! The only way to obtain consistent results is by creating consistency in your process. I like to think of this as the Chick-Fil-A method. Go to any Chick-Fil-A drive thru and you will see what I’m talking about – you’ll get through the line quickly and with your correct order before you can say “It’s my pleasure.” That is what we need to do for our hiring managers – set the standard in our hiring process to create a consistent experience for both the hiring manager and the candidate.  We have done this by creating a values-based interview guide with behavioral based questions linked to each of our values.  In addition, we provide managers with an evaluation tool to help them make the best hiring decision.  Not only does this keep the interview structured and focused on what is important to the organization, but it also helps decrease the risk of bias during the interview process.

        3. Provides better retention of talent

Collaboration is a company core value. You hire Bob because he comes with 10 years of previous experience as a customer service representative and interviewed well.   However, you quickly learn Bob likes to do things his way and does not like to meet as a team or assist his team members when they need it.  While Bob is great with your customers, he is lacking in your company value.  You feel it, and Bob feels it.  Ultimately, after several coaching sessions from his manager on the importance of collaborating and the behaviors expected from him, Bob decides after eight months to leave the organization because it is not the right fit.  If this scenario sounds familiar, you are not alone. We have far fewer of these situations after moving to values-based hiring because we can identify these gaps during the interview process and prevent them from occurring.  Identifying these gaps early saves monetary cost and the mental/emotional drain employees and management experience when training, then rehiring and training again. 

It is also worth noting that values-based hiring can have a tremendous impact on employee engagement.  Since my company has implemented this practice, we have seen a 10% increase in employee engagement over the past two years. Employees who know they are valued and in a long-term relationship will be more engaged! Implementing values-based hiring will be a mind shift for you and your hiring managers, but it will be oh so worth it. 


Courtnay Sanderfer joined USF Federal Credit Union in 2014 and has over 10 years of experience in the Human Resources field.  She has served the credit union in various HR positions and was most recently promoted in June 2019 to Vice President of Human Resources & Organizational Excellence where she oversees all aspects of human resources management, professional development, and organizational excellence, including project management and process improvement functions.

Courtnay earned an undergraduate degree in Psychology and a master’s degree in Public Administration from the University of South Florida.  She also achieved the designations of SHRM-CP and Senior Professional in Human Resources (SPHR) and serves as a Sterling examiner through the Florida Sterling Council.  Courtnay is also a board member for the Florida Diversity Council.

She has a passion for values-based hiring, employee engagement, and performance coaching. Courtnay was instrumental in USF Federal Credit Union earning the Florida Governor’s Sterling Award.