Personal Values drive First Impressions

Two months ago I wrote about interviewing a candidate. The post was titled “Of Being Scary” and told the tale of a double surprise.

  • First, the candidate was surprised of being offered the job because he thought he ruined it.
  • Secondly, I was surprised hearing that as I thought the interview went well.


Now the gentleman accepted the job offer and started with us recently. After he settled in I used the opportunity between Christmas and New Year to talk with him about our so different impression of the interview.

He explained to me the situation where he felt it went wrong. I had asked him about service quality and ongoing improvements. The usual answer people give is along the lines “There is always room for improvement.” and ” I’m doing the best for the customer’s experience.”. To understand his attitude better I had added a twist wanting to know how this fits with his life / work balance by using an emergency task coming in just before he was going home. His answer had been, he would question the urgency and evaluate quickly if the issue could wait til tomorrow. In doubt he would leave it for the next day.

That last bit he thought was stupid to have said.

I knew his wife was pregnant and they were expecting their first child. Naturally, I expect a family issue always closer to the heart of anybody then a work issue. I actually would question strongly the values of a person who’d do it differently without checking with the family. It is also part of the company culture and why I like working there.

Explaining that to him was not even necessary anymore (albeit I did) as his experience during his first few weeks at work showed him exactly that.


This reflective discussion was very important to me. It highlighted that my personal values are in congruence with the organisational values. That’s why I like working there. But, I took this for granted in the interview and his experience was quite different. Hence his first impression of me was “scary”. So, I should be very conscious that my values drive my questions and this might not be clear or obvious to the other person.

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