The Importance of Values (Plus Benefits and Tips)

Updated June 9, 2023

Values are the basic, most fundamental beliefs a person can have. They help to determine what a person prioritizes, who they want to be, how they live their lives and how they interact with their community. Understanding more about values can help you identify what's most important to you in your future career and help employers to determine whether your values align with theirs. In this article, we define what values are and discuss their importance and their benefits, in addition to tips for discussing your values with an interviewer.

What are values?

Values are the beliefs that motivate people to act a certain way. For example, people who value honesty tend to be on time and like to spend their time with other honest people. Values help to guide an individual's behavior and can help companies to determine whether they're achieving their goals. People often prioritize their values based on a number of different factors, including their socioeconomic status, their environment and their upbringing. Some people may value freedom over comfort, while others value comfort over freedom. Here are some of the different categories of values:

  • Personal values: These are the values that people exhibit in their own lives and what they consider to be most important. These might include creativity, humility, integrity, compassion, selflessness or friendship.

  • Relationship values: These values demonstrate how a person relates to others in their life, including their friends, family, peers and colleagues. Trust, generosity, empathy and communication are a few examples of relationship values.

  • Societal values: Societal values depict how an individual or an organization relates to society. Accountability, environmental awareness, fairness, dignity, individual rights, community and social responsibility are all examples of societal values.

  • Organizational values: An organization's values help to provide it with a purpose, so it can manage both employees and customers more effectively. Some examples of organizational values include teamwork, productivity, innovation, volunteerism and passion.

Related: Examples of Core Company Values From Top Employers

Where do values originate?

Values originate from the source of your beliefs or attitudes, like your environment, your past experiences and your family. Beliefs often develop when you're young and can differ depending on your culture and where you live. Many beliefs come from authority figures like parents, relatives, teachers, mentors or religious leaders. They may also come from your own personal experience and change as you get older.

As you gain additional life experience, different things may begin to influence your beliefs and you may add new values, while other values become less important to you. For example, you may value fun above all others when you're young, but as you get older and begin to have more responsibilities at work, you may value achievement over fun.

What is the importance of values?

Values help to inform your thoughts, actions and beliefs. They help you be authentic and conduct yourself properly in a variety of social settings. They differ from short-term or long-term goals because they're not specific to a single situation. While you may not always be aware of your values, knowing what you believe and why can help you make the decisions that make the most sense for you.

Knowing what your values are can also help you find job opportunities that most align with your deeply held beliefs and can help you feel more confident in an interview. If you strongly believe in security, you might look for a position where your duties are unlikely to change too often, you work the same hours each day and your work environment stays the same. If you value stimulation, you might look for a position where you can get to travel a lot and your duties vary from day to day.

Related: Core Values: 84 Powerful Examples for the Workplace

Benefits of identifying your values

As you enter adulthood, understanding more about your values can help you become more prepared to make decisions for yourself and inspire you to become the person you'd like to be as you begin your career. There are several benefits of identifying your values:

Values can improve your problem-solving and decision-making skills

Understanding the things you value most has the potential to help you better handle stressful situations that can sometimes impair your ability to solve problems and make decisions. When you're in a challenging situation, consider how you can use your values to make a choice.

It may be tempting to quickly react to a certain situation, but spending a few minutes reflecting on your values instead can help you ensure the choice you make is the most practical and truly matches what you value. For example, if you strongly value selflessness and see a person who needs help, helping that person can help you feel good about yourself because you were able to directly demonstrate your selflessness.

Values can help you realize what's most important

By identifying a few of your most important values, you can better focus on what matters most to you and remove the things in your life that aren't as meaningful to you or don't really depict who you are and what you want to become. To identify what these things are, you can pay extra attention to the choices you make every day and take notes of the things that are most important to you. As you begin to understand your values better, you may find that your time becomes more meaningful.

Values can help you increase your self-confidence

Self-confidence helps to prepare you to perform your best at job interviews and in the workplace after earning the position. When you understand who you are and what you believe, you can gain more self-confidence because you're more likely to make the right decisions. Having self-confidence can enhance your ability to solve complex problems, overcome obstacles others may present to you either during an interview or at work. It can also help you communicate with others around you in a more natural way, including peers, colleagues and supervisors.

Related: How To Become More Confident in 8 Powerful Ways

Values can help you enhance your career choices

Over the course of your career, you're likely to make many choices, all of which may have differing impacts on your personal and professional life. Understanding your values can help you to not only choose the career you truly want but also help you make better choices while at work and make your transition easier if you decide to accept an entirely new role.

If you value a high degree of independence, you may decide a career in freelancing or entrepreneurship is best for you. If one of your values is lifelong learning, you might decide to go with a career in academia. Starting your career may also help you recognize your values by allowing you to transition into a position that better reflects those values.

Tips for discussing values in an interview

Employers often like to see that your values are similar to their own, and being able to articulate your values may help to increase your chances of progressing in the application process. Many employers now recruit based on the degree to which your values match that of the company. Discussions about values in an interview may be situational, behavioral or broad. Here are some tips you can use for discussing values during your interview:

Read over the company's values

Right before the interview, it's important to look over the values of the company that you're applying to so you can see if your own values are similar. Many companies list their core values on their website. This is a great way to see what traits the company prioritizes and what they're looking for in prospective applicants.

Select a few of your values to describe yourself

During the portion of the interview where your interviewer asks you to talk about yourself, choose a few of the values that matter the most to you and use them to describe yourself. Try to be as authentic as possible and make sure your answers are relevant to the specific position to which you're applying. Having a few specific examples ready can also be useful because it helps demonstrate to your interviewer that you're thoughtful and prepared.

Related: Values Interview Questions: What They Are and How To Answer Them (With Examples)

Work your values into situational or behavioral questions

Interviewers ask behavioral and situational interview questions to gauge how you respond to certain situations. They may also ask you about your experience, like your time working in a team. These questions present a good opportunity to talk about your values, what your responsibilities were and what the outcome was. For example, if the question is about a team project, you can mention what your specific role was on the team, the achievements the team made and how much you value teamwork.

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