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How to answer value & accountability-based questions

June 25, 2024
James Cracknell

Current conditions have meant that the job market has become more challenging for candidates than it has been previously. The outcome of coronavirus so far in the UK means that the job seeker market is saturated, and recent figures from ONS reveals that between March and July of 2020, the number of payroll employees fell by 730,000 people. 

With so much competition around, the businesses that are hiring will be honing their interview techniques, making sure they are getting the best candidates into their business. This means finding the individuals that have not only the necessary qualifications and experience but also the vision, values and personal qualities that will bring untold benefits to the company.  

In this post, we will explore the importance of value and accountability-based questions, show examples of these interview questions and demonstrate how we have factored this into our company processes. 


Why are core values important? 

Core or personal values are a set of fundamental beliefs that underpin your commitment to your work, performance, contribution to your environment and the way you make decisions. 

Most businesses have a set of core company values that guide how employees interact, execute their work and own their responsibilities. For example, The Sterling Choice company values are: 

  • Enjoy the ride 
  • Support beyond recruitment 
  • Excellence 
  • Shared Success 

Core values help to provide structure and consistency and are demonstrated in all that you do. 

For example, if honesty were one of your core standards, then you would base all decisions, conversations and interactions on honesty. You would accept that this may lead to challenging discussions and potential disagreements, but you would display integrity to your core values, delivering honest feedback appropriately. 

If you have a strong sense of self, you may be able to quickly identify your core values, while others may need to be patient before determining theirs. Our advice is to reflect on what is important to you; what drives your decisions, what do you respect in others and what motivates you? Curate a list of five personal values, and be sure to highlight these in your CV, using brief examples where relevant. 

To achieve job satisfaction and have the opportunity to progress, it is essential to find a company that is aligned with your core values. 


Accountability, it’s kind of a big deal in the workplace 

Being accountable means being responsible for your actions, behaviour, decisions and performance. In the workplace, this means job performance and interactions with colleagues, customers and suppliers. Accountability also means that you are committed to achieving outstanding results and performing at a high level – you take ownership and initiative, demonstrating pro-active, rather than reactive behaviour.   

Workplaces that hire accountable employees thrive. That’s because communication is open and collaboration is high; people are following through on their commitments, being resourceful and innovative when making their decisions, taking responsibility for results and actively learning from mistakes.  

Accountability in the workplace means taking ownership and not passing the buck. Not all people are accountable and find it challenging to work in such an environment, seeking clarification rather than making decisions. This is often down to feeling uncomfortable about being reprimanded or being unconfident. 

Accountability requires a top-down approach too. If employees see leaders admitting fault, recognising great work and following through on commitments, it influences their behaviour also. A lack of accountability leads to toxic work culture, low morale and low productivity. 

If accountability is important to you, stress this on your CV and ask the questions during an interview that allow you to determine if responsibility is highly valued in the business.  


If you are enjoying this, you might enjoy our in-depth interview guide too. You can find it here – How to Prepare For An Interview.  


How you can demonstrate your core values and attitude to accountability in an interview 

The interview is absolutely critical when it comes to highlighting your best and most relevant features. While traditionally, hiring decisions were based solely on qualifications and experience, forward-thinking employers will be asking questions to uncover your values and accountability. 

To help you prepare, we have put together some questions that you might get asked during an interview. 


Examples of value-based interview questions  

Your values should contribute to the company’s vision, mission and long-term objectives. To identify if you are aligned with the company values, you might yourself asked interview questions such as the following: 

  • What would you do if you had to work with a person you didn’t get along with? 
  • What would you do if you saw a colleague stealing from work? 
  • What you ever faced an ethical dilemma in the workplace? 
  • What does success look like to you in both your personal and professional life? 
  • Tell me about a time you had to adapt your approach at work to complete a project? 
  • Describe a time that you had to develop your skills or learn a new one. 

 It’s essential, to be honest, and true to yourself when answering value-based questions. Answering disingenuously will be easily identified. You will be able to respond more authentically when responding with considered answers; this alone will be a positive sign. In doing so, both parties can make an informed decision about whether they are aligned and a good fit. 


Examples of personal accountability interview questions 

  • Tell me about the last time you made a mistake 
  • Tell me about a time you received negative feedback 
  • Tell me about a time you failed to meet a deadline or a commitment 
  • Tell me about your biggest failure in your career 
  • Tell me about your greatest weakness

Interviewers are not looking for excuses, justification or deflection. To make a good impression, explain the example, your reaction, what you learnt, and how you use this information and experience now. 


Looking for help with an interview on Zoom or Teams? Our 14 Top Tips for Video Interviews will help!


How can The Sterling Choice help? 

As part of the process, we conduct value-based interviews. Meaning we can play matchmakers when it comes to candidates and employers, asking questions that uncover candidates’ personal values to make sure that they are the right person for the role at hand. 

If they aren’t, then we match them to the role and company that is right, because we want to see career progression, not unfulfilled candidates that end up job-hopping. 

Going for an interview at a company that isn’t quite right can knock a person’s confidence – in themselves, and us as recruiters. We don’t want to see that happen – ever. 


We hope this opened your eyes to the importance of personal values and accountability, along with the need to highlight and demonstrate these qualities when job-seeking. If you would like to discuss any aspect of the job-hunt process further, we would love to help! You can get in touch with a member of the team, using our Contact Us page. 

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About The Author

James Cracknell

I joined The Sterling Choice in 2016, taking my first step into the world of recruitment. After a successful 6 years servicing the UK market, I’m now helping lead our growth across the pond in the USA.

For me it’s all about finding businesses the right people both in terms of skillset and cultural fit, whilst simultaneously finding individuals the right employers for their career. Truly understanding the needs of both parties.

The pace of the food industry is what keeps me so engaged. It’s an industry that is constantly evolving and providing new challenges on a daily basis!

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