How to Build a Team with Shared Values: Hiring for Personal and Company Alignment

Hire better and keep the team together with these tactics to ensure a good fit

An important part of building a cohesive team is making sure everyone on it fits the company culture. Whether that means hiring new talent or reaffirming that a current team’s personal values align with the company values, having this cohesion forms a team that is passionate about the work they do and more likely to stay with a company long-term. At Yakkety Yak, we put our core values—authenticity, curiosity, commitment, accountability and kindness—front and center. Not only do they shape our work but they also keep us on the same page as a team. Here’s how to hire smart and bring a successful team together, plus five interview questions to always ask to ensure a good fit between personal and company alignment. 

Why Does Company Culture Matter?

While company culture comes from many things—like benefits, job perks, attitudes shared by team members, a company’s mission, values and organizational structure—it is ultimately a reflection of the work environment. Work culture is based on perceptions, feelings and beliefs shared throughout the organization by people at every level. Does the team feel empowered to do their jobs and communicate their ideas honestly? Are they driven by the company’s mission? Do they feel respected, valued and included as part of the team? Is there room for them to grow? Even if employees work remotely, culture is still communicated in meetings, emails, benefits and expectations.

The bottom line: Company culture helps bring quality talent to a company and keep it there. 

35% of American workers would pass on a job if the company culture didn’t feel right and 47% of active job seekers listed company culture as the motivating force behind their job search. Company culture needs to be developed and maintained, and should adapt over time. In the wake of the 2020 social movement for racial justice, companies across the U.S. and beyond responded to the demand for increased diversity, equity and inclusion by actively working on their company cultures and hiring practices. Companies like LinkedIn, Asana, General Motors and many others evolved their missions and values statements in order to bring the benefit of diverse perspectives to the table. 

Cultivating Company Culture

Communicate the company’s core values and mission clearly. Not only does a central mission unite a team and help them feel more connected to their work but it also draws new talent and customers who share the same values. Then, be sure those core values are integrated into the work environment, organizational structure, benefits and culture. For example, if openness and honesty are something your company values, build a structure that values everyone’s ideas—from intern to CEO. 

Also, reevaluate the company’s mission and values as often as needed. A company’s values may change over time. At the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, Yakkety Yak added a new value to ours: kindness. We realized that this was something that drove our interactions and the way we presented ourselves, but we hadn’t put it down in writing. While adding it didn’t change the way we worked, it brought a new focus. Ultimately, the real purpose of company alignment is to articulate what’s important to the company as a whole.

Attract a Wide Talent Pool

Hiring for shared values starts with the job description. Applicants typically spend under one minute reading a job posting before deciding the company or position is not a good fit. Job descriptions often provide someone’s first impression of a company and a distillation of its culture. From the words used to describe the position and ideal applicant to the list of must-have skills and experience, certain language subconsciously affects whether or not qualified people even fill out the application form. 

In job postings, make sure word choice reflects work culture and be sure to avoid anything that may unconsciously exclude qualified applicants. It’s best practice to analyze the language used in your job postings with a Gender Decoder Tool to check for and eliminate unconscious gender bias in advance. But be aware of descriptors too. For instance, words like “hacker,” “guru,” or “strong” tend to code masculine while words like “supportive” and “collaborative” tend to subtly code female. Jargon, whether company or industry-specific, and class indicators, such as references to top-tier universities or advanced degrees that aren’t necessary for success on the job, also communicate a sense of exclusion to applicants from different backgrounds. When crafting the posting for a new job, focus on the qualifications that are truly required for success and communicate them clearly and concisely.

Hiring the Dream Team 

Putting together the perfect team takes time, energy and resources. When hiring a team that aligns with the company’s core values and connects with its mission, look at more than what’s written on their CV. Rather than focusing just on applicants with all the ideal skills and experience, also consider: Do their interests, values and tone seem to fit with your other employees? Would they make a good addition to your team outside of their practical skills? Remember, people can learn new skills, so even if they aren’t quite as experienced in one aspect of the job, don’t write them off right away. Every new hire requires training and not having experience with a particular skill or program doesn’t mean they won’t excel at it after onboarding.

Consider each applicant as an investment in the company as a whole. If they are a good fit and their personal values align with the company’s values, they’re more likely to stay on long term, grow with your company and drive its success. Remember, retention, in addition to saving time, money and valuable onboarding resources, also boosts team morale and culture.

Five New Hire Interview Questions to Reveal Applicants’ Values

After narrowing down potential candidates by resume, be sure some of the interview questions target alignment with company values and culture. Here at Yakkety Yak, we have a list of questions we always ask. Aside from the typical, “Tell us about yourself” and “Why are you here today?”, some questions we never forget to ask include: 

1. What do you love about your current company culture that you’re looking for in your next opportunity? 

This question presents an opportunity for the candidate to state their values and provides a great segue into why (or why not) they may be a good fit for the team. 

2. What’s something you hope is different?

Following up with this gives the candidate a chance to explain how their current employer may have not aligned with their values—and where a new company can potentially fill a gap. 

3. What is one piece of critical feedback you’ve received that was really difficult to hear? What did you do with that information?

This is a great opportunity to get to know more about how the candidate works with a team and specifically a manager. Receiving criticism is never easy, but the way a person reacts to it says a lot. If the candidate cannot think of a time when they received even mild criticism, it may be a red flag. When they answer the second part of this question, listen for a candidate who responded to criticism seriously and applied it to their work. They will have learned and grown from this experience. Their answer can also help determine how they collaborate and communicate with others.

4. What are you better at than most anyone else? What are you terrible at?

Even if it’s not work-related, hearing what a candidate finds to be their best and worst abilities is a chance to understand what they do with those abilities as well. For example, if a candidate is great at guessing the number of marbles in a jar, it may seem innocuous and completely unrelated. But then they may add, “It means I have a great sense of perception. I can look at the small details and understand the big picture”—a response that relates to their work life. 

At the same time, if a candidate says they’re terrible at math, listen for how they try to make up for that if it comes up at their job. “I always make sure to triple-check any work that involves data to make up for this,” would be a great addition to that kind of response. 

5. When was the last time you changed your mind about something important? 

Changing your mind or viewpoint about something is never easy. A person has to be open-minded enough to accept that they were wrong and then concede to another point. If a candidate cannot do this, it may mean that they won’t work well in a team environment. For jobs that require a lot of collaboration, this could be a potential drawback. 

Ensuring that applicants’ personal values align with company values from the get-go is a surefire way to cultivate a company culture that benefits everyone—from the team to the business to the clients. Think Yakkety Yak might be a good fit for you? Check out our career page to find out who we’re looking to bring onto our team.


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