Whether an applicant's values match those of the hiring company is often taken into account at job interviews, but few studies of this topic can be found in literature on the subject. Foreign companies hiring personnel in Russia look for value congruence as one of their selection criteria. "This practice is still rare in Russian companies, but mainly characteristic of international companies," note Professor Kabalina, Head of Department of Human Resources Management at the HSE Faculty of management, and Anna Pakhomova, graduate of the HSE Master's programme 'Human Resources Management', in their article 'Influence of value congruence on personnel selection' published in Organisational Psychology.
Their study has shown that value congruence is a key factor in recruitment decisions. The researchers examined findings from interviews conducted by HR managers in the Russian branch of a major international company in 2014, focusing in particular on interviews conducted by ten recruiters who assessed job applicants for existing vacancies. Kabalina and Pakhomova built a random sample of 127 interviews with 71 women and 56 men aged 21.6 on average and applied correlation and discriminant analyses to examine the data.
The researchers found that in addition to value congruence, recruiters also paid attention to applicants' dress and appearance, which mattered even more to them than the candidates' work experience and skills.
The company in question has adopted corporate values shared by all employees. Corporate values materialise in competences understood as behaviours consistent with the corporate culture.
Both values and competencies are manifested in employees' behaviour. "By assessing competences, we can probably assess values," note Kabalina and Pakhomova.
The authors explain why companies need to know about a job applicant's values before hiring. "According to texts, no amount of socialisation within the company can change the employee's established system of values; thus it is necessary to select applicants whose values match those of the company at the recruitment stage."
Kabalina and Pakhomova explain the method which recruiters use to assess applicants' competences. "The recruiter asks the interviewee to describe how they handled a particular problem in a previous job and decides whether or not the described behaviour matches the company's values," the researchers explain. However, while values were addressed in job interviews, it was unclear to the company management to what extent value congruence influenced the decision to hire.
Kabalina and Pakhomova’s hypothesis that value congruence revealed in an interview made the applicant more likely to get the job was confirmed by the data analysis.
The researchers also found that value congruence was indeed the key factor in the recruiter's decision to choose an applicant for the next round of the selection process. In fact, it is one of the main reasons why hiring the right people can take time. "Recruiters are not looking for just someone with relevant training and work experience; they want people with competences and values likely to support their success in the company in the long run," the authors explain. Based on the study's findings, the company implemented a values awareness program for its line managers.
In addition, the study determined a number of factors influencing recruiter decisions and the relative importance of each factor in personnel selection process. The full list of factors influencing the hiring decision is as follows: education, work experience, appearance, knowledge, abilities, skills, English proficiency, competences, values congruence, references, gender, age, motivation to work in this company, and the recruiter's personality.
In order of importance, the least significant were factors such as the applicant's knowledge, skills and references, and the recruiter's personality. This was not overly surprising, since the company was prepared to hire people with little or minimal experience relevant to the vacancies available. Similarly, recruiters had no interest in hiring someone for personal reasons, since their performance was assessed on the basis of their hires' long-term success, plus the company had clear guidelines for conducting job interviews which minimised the human factor.
In contrast, the factor of appearance, i.e. being attractive and dressed according to corporate standards, came high on the list next to the education factor. The authors refer to international research findings that the applicant's appearance does influence the hiring decision, but suggest that this issue needs further study as to whether or not neat and attractive appearance and following the corporate dress code are associated with better workplace performance in the long run. Kabalina and Pakhomova believe that their findings can be used to train recruiters.
The researchers also believe that information about corporate values should be made accessible to job applicants beforehand to avoid wasting both their time and that of the recruiters.