Skills for Care

What is values-based recruitment?

13 Sep 2021

Kerry Cleary

  • Recruitment
  • Retention

Values-based leadership and wellbeing coach and trainer Kerry Cleary talks to us about what values-based recruitment actually means, and how this can be embedded through each stage of the recruitment process.

I’ve spent all my career in recruitment and resourcing, starting out in the private sector working in retail, insurance and accountancy companies. All these organisations used an element of values and behaviours recruitment.

Then in 2002 I joined the NSPCC to deliver a project to develop a values-based interview approach to recruitment as a response to a number of inquiries into professionals who had abused children in organisations. Having developed this approach there I then took it to other social care and health organisations including charities, NHS Trusts, and local authorities.

Following the Francis Inquiry into the failings at the Mid Staffordshire Foundation Trust in 2013, we had the opportunity to take this further into social care through a project with Oxfordshire County Council and then Skills for Care. I’ve since developed different workshops and resources specific to values-based recruitment in adult social care.

What does values-based recruitment mean?

Values-based recruitment is a way of getting to know people, their motivations, passions, interests and whether they’ll be a good fit for your organisation and for the roles you’re recruiting to, so you can make the best possible recruitment choices for those who you provide care and support for.

It’s so important to me as it goes back to 20 years ago when I started work in safeguarding and saw the impact recruiting people with inappropriate values and behaviours could have on the lives of children and vulnerable adults. When I share the approach with organisations it allows me to help them keep the people they support safer and ensure they can deliver the care the people using their service deserve.

Values-based recruitment in social care

Values-based recruitment gives organisations the ability to look wider than the usual pool of recruits to find people who may not have any previous experience in care but who have exactly the sorts of values and behaviours that would make them an asset to any care organisation.

Skills for Care has an excellent values mapping tool which can help organisations to both identify their values and to map any existing values onto the values framework we developed with social care employers.

The important thing is to involve staff and people who you support. Ask them what they feel about your organisation, what your staff do that makes it such a special place to work and receive care, and what’s important to them. Then you can develop values which have come from staff and people who you support and are meaningful to them.

Some of the key values relevant for social care employers which can be found in the framework are dignity and respect, working together, commitment to quality care and support, and learning and reflection.

I’d recommend that social care providers look at Skills for Care’s website for resources on how to get started. Be aware, there’s no shortcuts, it’s a journey but one that’s well worth the effort in ensuring you get the right people for your organisation.

I’ve worked across different studies which have shown that valued-based recruitment is a successful way of appointing people who will perform well in their role and who will be happy there, and as such are more likely to stay.

There’s also lots of anecdotal evidence from conversations with employers who say how values-based recruitment has changed the culture and feel of their team or organisation as the people recruited are motivated, committed, and passionate about what they do, and you can tell they’ve been recruited using values-based recruitment.

The real benefit comes when staff are not just recruited for values, but when the values also play a big part in their induction and training, performance management and supervision, and day-to-day conversations.

Embedding values throughout the recruitment process

Job description and person specification

Look at your organisational values and behaviours and think which are most important in this role, what would make someone successful in this role and what behaviour would you not want to see. Include these details as points in the person specification.

Job advert

Include the values of the organisation in all adverts and explain that you’re a values-based organisation and want people to work for you who share your values. This should act both as a way to attract people who may not have considered a role in care before and also put off people who don’t have an alignment with your values.

You could include phrases which would ask people to connect their values and yours e.g. Do you want to work in an environment where every day you work together as a team to make people smile and enjoy being their best selves through the care you provide?

Application process

Once the values are included in the person specification, you can ask people to address them in the application process, so they show how their values align with yours. This could be done by asking them to send in a covering letter explaining why you’re the right organisation for them and why their values and your values match up.

You can also include this on your application form in the section where you ask for a supporting statement and specifically ask them to give you examples from their personal or professional life where they’ve demonstrated the values.

Interview and tasks

Throughout the rest of the application and selection process give candidates the opportunity to demonstrate their values and behaviours to you. This could be through:

  • values-based interviews
  • activities involving the people you support
  • written activities where candidates demonstrate how they’d make decisions or prioritise using their values
  • presentations discussing what candidates think the role is about and why and how they share the values of the organisation.

Job offer

Ensure all job offers are conditional to all relevant checks being complete, which includes references, and use the reference to ask previous employers or other referees about the character of the individual and whether they would be suitable for your role. Ensure referees have a copy of the person specification and the organisation's values so they can give an informed and relevant reference.

Post job-offer

Staying in touch with candidates and ‘keeping them warm’, so they want to join your organisation in a competitive job market is so important. One way you could use values to do this is by sending them information about your company culture, telling them about what you’ve planned for them when they start and maybe sending any newsletters or other information which staff receive so they have a sense of what it will be like to work for you before they start.

First day and induction

Use the values and behaviours as a core part of the induction process to set expectations of the sort of behaviour you want to see and don't want to see from staff. It’s helpful to include your values and behaviours within the staff code of conduct. Also take the opportunity to deliver training and workshops based on the values and behaviours, including using the values in conversations and how to provide the best care and service in line with the organisation's values.

Probation period

Use the probationary period to notice not just what staff do but also how they do it - how they demonstrate the values and behaviours that were important to you when you recruited them.

Where they’re demonstrating positive performance and behaviour in-line with the organisation's values use the probationary period to recognise, praise and reinforce this behaviour. Where there are concerns, use the probationary period to highlight those concerns, offer them an opportunity to develop and improve their behaviours and if that doesn’t result in the performance you expect to see, use the probationary period to exit unsuitable staff from your organisation early on.


The values of your organisation should underpin every interaction and every action within your organisation, they should be lived and not just be wallpaper in the reception of your buildings.

To do this staff should talk about the values in their one-to-ones and in everyday conversations. In team meetings it’s a great opportunity to ask staff what they’ve done over the past few weeks that they’re proud of that demonstrated the values. You can have team and individual awards linked to the values, and ensure you include the values in more formal supervision and in the appraisals you do with your staff so they know what’s expected of them and are motivated to live the values in their work every day.

Find out more about values-based recruitment and other recruitment advice, on our #RecruitmentReady spotlight.

Have a look at out new Values Based Recruitment toolkit.

Topic areas

Interview: what values-based recruitment means to us

Fantastic social care candidates and where to find them