Hire for integrity

“Somebody once said that in looking for people to hire, you look for three qualities: integrity, intelligence, and energy. And if you don’t have the first, the other two will kill you.” – Warren Buffett

Over the past month, we have explored the importance of cultivating integrity in yourself and modeling it for others. As leaders, we also have a responsibility to hire others with integrity. But how can you recognize such an important quality during the interview process?

First, ask good behavioral questions that elicit examples from a job candidate. Behavioral questions are based on the premise that past behavior is a future predictor; in other words, if someone has behaved a certain way in the past, they are most likely to repeat that behavior in the future. Examples of good behavioral questions that can elicit responses from candidates include:

  • Tell me about a specific time when you were confronted with a potentially difficult situation which challenged your sense of fairness or ethics. What did you do?
  • A strong sense of ethics and integrity are critical to the success of any leader.  Tell me about a situation that tested your ethical and moral foundation. What was the challenge and how did you respond to it?
  • Tell me about a time when you kept commitment even when it was difficult to do so.
  • Discuss an instance when you could not honor a commitment or a promise.  How did you manage the situation and communicate with the affected individuals or group?
  • Give an example of how you became informed of relevant laws, rules and regulations in order to accomplish a specific initiative or goal.
  • What actions have you taken when you observed or were made aware of someone breaking rules or acting without integrity?
  • Tell me about a mistake you have made on the job. What did you do after you made the mistake?

In addition to the interview, be sure to check with a candidate’s references, where you can ask additional questions.

Anita Rios


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