Career advice

Values-based nurse recruitment: what you need to know to shine at your job interview

Tips for showing you’re the right fit for an organisation – and it’s the right place for you

Tips for showing you’re the right fit for an organisation – and it’s the right place for you

Picture: iStock

Values-based recruitment helps employers recruit staff whose values fit with the those of the organisation.

This approach to recruitment in healthcare gained currency following the 2013 publication of the Francis Report – the public inquiry into poor care at Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust chaired by Robert Francis QC.

In the report on the inquiry, Sir Robert said: ‘Much of what needs to be done does not require additional financial resources but change in attitudes, culture, values and behaviours.’

The practice of recruiting for values is well established

I have worked in the NHS for almost 25 years and have interviewed well over 1,000 staff. I have also had interviews myself, the last one being 15 years ago for the position I still hold.

During the interview, I had to do a presentation under the heading: ‘What are the personal qualities required for the role of senior nurse, clinical practice development?’

If you substitute ‘qualities’ for ‘values’, you have values-based recruitment, so recruiting on values has been around for many years and you will likely have had an interview using this approach.

‘Employers may be desperate for staff but they still want the right people’

The important thing to remember is that values-based recruitment is not something to be afraid of.

A way to check the organisation wants you, and you want the organisation

Organisational values describe the culture, or the ‘way things are done around here’.

Values-based recruitment uses the organisation’s values to base the structure of an interview. The aim is to assess how you approach different situations based on your individual values and behaviours so that the organisation can ensure you are the right fit for it – and it for you.

Values-based recruitment uses a variety of methods, including:

  • A one-to-one interview with values-based questions
  • Assessment centres with role play, group activities, case studies and written exercises.
  • Psychometric testing using performance-based or self-assessment tests

How to prepare for a values-based interview

Picture: iStock

  • Do your research Most organisations publish their values or mission statement on their website. Some even produce interview guides, so make sure you research your chosen organisation. Otherwise, NHS Constitution is a great place to start.
  • Familiarise yourself with the person specification for the role Many interviewers will use the headings on the person specification to structure their questions. If headings include organisational skills, problem solving, situation judgement, teamwork and innovative thinking, you can pretty much guarantee you will get questions based on these.
  • Practice scenario-based questions Scenario-based questions are popular in values-based recruitment and you are likely to be asked several ‘what would you do if...’ or ‘tell me a time when you ....’ type questions. Don't panic if the panel starts asking extra questions or probing – their job is to get the best out of you and they may just be looking for additional information. Interview panels also use a scoring system and will often have a ‘model answer’. You can find examples of scoring systems online.
  • Know your supporting statement This got you the interview and panel members will often start by asking questions based on your supporting statement. Be self-aware, have insight into your personal and professional values, and showcase your knowledge and skills. Some people find it hard to sell themselves and have a natural tendency to be modest, but it is important to be bold and open in an interview.
  • Don’t be afraid to be personal The interview panel wants to see the real you, not someone who says what they think the panel wants to hear. Have an opinion rather than just regurgitating facts and figures, and have knowledge of the national and regional priorities and initiatives that affect your job or chosen organisation.
  • Consider a pre-interview visit This is an informal way of getting an insight into the organisation. It will help you assess whether it 'lives' the values described in its mission statement and give you a sense of whether the organisation could be a good fit for you.

RELATED: Preparing for a job interview: keys to confidence


Investing in the right person is better for everyone, including patients

The RCN estimates there are more than 43,000 nurse vacancies in the NHS in England, but don’t let this make you complacent when interviewing for a role – employers may be desperate for staff but they still want the right people.

Investing in the right person leads to greater employee satisfaction, improved staff retention and patient experience. Getting values-based recruitment wrong can be costly, with frustration and reduced productivity on both sides, neither of which are good for patients and service users.

If managers recruit for the wrong reasons and so end up with the wrong fit, the recruit may leave the organisation and the employer has to go back to the start of the recruitment process.


Claire Agnew van Asch is senior nurse, clinical practice development, University Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trust

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