How to Spot a Candidate with Personal Integrity

BY Austin Richards
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Hiring managers are always looking for the best possible candidate. Often, they’d like to fill an open position with a person who’s similar to the good employee who left. What would be even better is to hire an applicant with personal integrity.

Does Your Top Candidate Have Personal Integrity?

Definition: The Merriam-Webster dictionary declares that a person of integrity has “firm adherence to a code of especially moral or artistic values.”

It can be challenging to determine whether an applicant is a trustworthy person. Hiring managers often rely on their gut feeling when it’s time to select a candidate who deserves an employment offer. This situation is unfortunate because psychometric assessments based on a scientific framework can help employers make better hiring decisions.

Too often, hiring managers lack sufficient experience in interviewing to determine important aspects of an applicant’s suitability for an open position. Without the right tools and training, they fall back on what is familiar.

This familiarity might include bonding with a candidate over their mutual interest in tennis. When that happens, the hiring decision may be halfway made. In other cases, a hiring manager may be pressured by senior leadership to make an offer to a candidate who has a connection to the right people.

This kind of interview process is flawed. The manager may end up with a candidate who is poorly suited to the work, not motivated and is possibly not a person of high integrity.

Using Assessments

Psychometric assessments can reveal details about candidates – such as whether they are detail-​oriented or whether they’re happiest when working in an open floor plan.

While managers see the benefits of using assessments, we should ask whether it’s possible for these instruments to measure for integrity. Leslie Harrison writes that several companies currently give their employees and applicants integrity tests. They ask questions such as, “Have you ever called in sick when you weren’t.”

Most applicants will recognize these questions for what they are. Lacking integrity as a person, a candidate may find it easy to lie. They will have no problem answering questions in a way that will increase their chances of being hired.

According to our research, only around 30% of surveyed sales managers use psychometric assessments. They also use a variety of other tools, such as sales skills tests. However, few of these tools will specifically reveal whether a candidate has personal integrity.

How to Ask the Right Interview Questions

Managers who wish to hire a person of integrity should use effective and nondiscriminatory questions during an interview. For consistent results, managers should ask the same question of each top applicant. Examples of these types of questions include:

  • When was the last time you “broke the rules”? What was the situation and what did you do?
  • If you ever got into a bind with a client, would you be willing to tell a little lie to help your company out?

These types of questions force a candidate to explain their thinking and behavior in detail. They can’t wiggle out of revealing their personalities by giving a one-​word answer.

Hiring managers can review the candidate’s answers to detailed questions. When they combine that information with results from psychometric assessments, they have a better idea of who they’re speaking with. They’ll know whether the candidate has integrity as a person.

Using Internships as a Pathway to Hiring

Some managers prefer to get to know candidates in an environment that doesn’t require a long-​term commitment. An internship can serve as an ideal experience for the candidate and the manager.

After establishing the guidelines for the work experience, the hiring manager can watch for signs of success or failure. A person with integrity will arrive at work on time and complete tasks instead of interacting with friends online. If the intern deliberately falsifies their time sheet, the manager has an indication of a problem.

Hiring the Right Person

Employees who possess personal integrity should be at the top of every manager’s wish list. To screen for these individuals, the team members doing the hiring can benefit from using all the tools they have. This includes psychometric assessments, properly structured interview questions and the use of an internship program.

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