How to Hire Employees with Integrity

How to Hire Employees with Integrity

March 11, 2019 6:22 am

If you have a vacancy in your company, your first instinct will likely be to scout out a candidate with the skills to fill the position well. While skillset is one key factor in the equation, there are many other things to consider—including a potential employee’s ethics. Hiring someone with poor ethics can hurt your business significantly. At very least, they may exhibit a poor work ethic and fail to give you your money’s worth. In a worse scenario, they could steal proprietary information that could sink your company.

Unfortunately, evaluating a person’s character through the hiring process can be difficult to do. Resumes may contain exaggerations, embellishments, or even outright lies. People can present well in a casual interview, disguising their weak character. Even honesty tests aren’t foolproof, and many people have learned how to game them.

While there’s no way to be 100 percent sure about what a person is made of, there are some ways to improve your screening process. Here are just a few ideas for better assessing a person’s integrity:

Ask for ethics. When you post your help wanted announcement, make it clear that you are looking for someone with integrity. You can also let employees know at the outset of the interview that their on-the-job performance will be evaluated, in part, on how ethical they are. This may be enough to scare off some people who don’t have a strong commitment to honesty and integrity.

Target ethics in your interview. Free-wheeling, superficial interviews are rarely enough to get the job done. Plan your questions strategically so that you can target the ethical standards that you care about. For example, you can ask candidates about an ethical dilemma that they have been faced with and how they resolved it. If they can’t think of one, consider giving them a scenario and ask how they would react. For example, you could ask, “What would you do if you saw another employee repeatedly cutting out of work when they were still on the clock?” or “How would you react if a manager asked you to falsify customer feedback reports?”

Administer personality assessments. Some companies give personality tests to potential applicants. This can help you see how their personality might gel with your current staff. It can also expose the qualities at their core. Studies show that being prone to guilt is an excellent indicator of strong morality. That’s not to say that you need to hire the most guilt-ridden person in the room, but do look for qualities like conscientiousness that show an elevated feeling of responsibility.

Check on employment history. Go to the effort to speak to former bosses to verify employment dates and ask about an applicant’s integrity. If past employers gush with adoration, you’re probably looking at a quality candidate. If you see any gaps in employment, address these with the candidate so that you can rule out any red flags.

Moral conduct can be contagious. If your core employees espouse a high degree of honesty and integrity, they can motivate others to do the same. It takes a little more time and effort to find candidates with rock-solid integrity, but when you do, it can raise the bar for ethical behavior company-wide.