How to ask questions to determine a candidates Integrity & Honesty!!

Determining the honesty and integrity of a candidate is very tough. Especially if done over the phone. Below are some ideas and questions you can ask that will help you to determine a candidates honesty and integrity

  • Describe a time when you spoke up even though it was unpopular.
  • Describe a time when you admitted a mistake to a co-worker.
  • How do you earn the trust of others?
  • Would those you've worked with describe you as a person of integrity? Why did they reach that conclusion?
  • Can you describe a time at work when you brought bad news to your manager?
  • Discuss a time when your integrity was challenged. How did you handle it?
  • Have you ever experienced a loss for doing what was right?
  • What is the worst professional obstacle you've ever had to face and how has it helped you to grow?
  • What three skills will you need to continue to develop to be "the best you can be?"

Each of these questions is designed to determine the honesty, integrity and ability of a candidate to take a stand.

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Comment by Saleem Qureshi on February 12, 2010 at 11:54pm
Well addressed questions, but Dean how much you are sure that asking such questions would ensure the integrity and honesty of an individual? I think an individual can lie or present stories to answer such questions...Why recruiters don't implement technological advancement to check out the honesty of an applicant...
Comment by Dean Da Costa on February 13, 2010 at 12:13am
Using technology to determine honesty and integrity is hard. Unless you are trying to use an online personality assessment, how would you do it? Hook them up to a lie detector. That is not practical and in most cases is evasive and hard to do, especially in a phone interview. Not to mention can cause other issues. These questions if asked properly can do the job. But you must not only listen to the answers but listen to how they are said, the words used, the pauses, and inflections in their voice, how the answers really go with the situation they described they were dealing with. In other words you need to use a skill I call listenology. Listenology is the art or skill of not just hearing what is said, but listening, to what is said , how it is said, and all the things I mention above. Trust me the more you do it, the better you will get at listenology, and the easier it will be to determine how honest and how much integrity a candidate has.
Comment by Paul Alfred on February 13, 2010 at 5:55pm
Dean your forgot to add the killer question if you were offered a Counter offer for $25,000 more from your current employer would you accept it. I Love adding this question it really starts to drill into how much you can trust the candidate and covers integrity on real reasons for leaving current employer.
Comment by Dean Da Costa on February 13, 2010 at 6:59pm
Perhaps, it is not a bad question, but that type of question is one that can also leave you more unsure, and also goes under the presumption that people are governed by money. Which is not true. What it really will tell you is, if the candidate is looking for job content or is it all about the money. What are his motivations? Weather it will help you discern honesty and integrity is questionable. But I can see why you would ask it. For me when I joined Microsoft, I had other offers some were for much more money. I chose Microsoft, because of job content and then of course it is Microsoft. However I am sure if I was asked the question and stated it was not about money some would have thought I was not being truthful. So that question can leaving you with more questions then you started with. I can see using that question once you have decided the honesty of the candidate, to see what motivates them. But to determine honesty and integrity, I am not sure it is the best choice. But I can see where it could fit within the interview process.
Comment by Saleem Qureshi on February 14, 2010 at 3:34pm
@Dean, I like the word "Listenology" :)
It shows that you are true master at identifying talent. But you have to admit that Listenology take a lot of time to develop... but as an individual is developing his/her listenology skills, I think it would be a good idea to have candidates take assessments and you the results as a gauge to build the art of Listenology
Would you agree?
Comment by Dean Da Costa on February 14, 2010 at 3:42pm
As long as assessments are not used a the sole determining factor to evaluate a candidate yes, they can be used to help augment a recruiter who is not advanced enough or does not know how to utilize listenology. Listenology is a skill mastered by few, and it is that few that are true "Recruiting Masters".
Comment by Saleem Qureshi on February 15, 2010 at 7:05am
@Dean, I run a very successful talent assessment company, and the first thing I tell my clients is that an assessment is only an assessment, it should be used as a tool to facilitate in the hiring decision. So you are absolutely right that assessment tools should not be used exclusively, rather as a combination.
Comment by pam claughton on February 15, 2010 at 9:34am
Assessments can be very helpful to all recruiters, regardless of how advanced their listenology skills are. My brother-in-law uses them for every position he hires for (he is the CEO of a company). They actually saved him from making a hire he and everyone else was ready to move forward with. They liked the guy, felt he'd fit in well, had industry experience, etc. Then, they gave him the test and the results came back 'do not hire'. He pushed back because they all really liked the guy, and the person who did the assessment explained that while they all liked him, and he'd definitely fit in, he was just bringing 'more of the same'. They were looking to hire a salesperson who would be a hunter, go out and open new accounts. The test showed that this individual was much more of a farmer, one who liked servicing existing accounts and growing them. When they thought back to their conversation they realized that was the case and they just hadn't picked up on it because they found the guy so personable.

It's very interesting and my brother-in-law has found it extremely helpful for all recruiting as he has also put together profiles for positions he hires regularly such as customer service and warehouse help and when those openings come up, he can search his database for people who applied and tested and did well in either area, and he'll call those people in for an interview.

So, agree you don't want to use assessments on their own, but they can be very useful as an added resource...regardless of your recruiting skills. :)
Comment by pam claughton on February 15, 2010 at 9:38am
Also, meant to add in reference to your listed questions, that I think these are great ones to ask when checking a reference. I've found that you often get a clearer picture of an individual's integrity through a reference rather than directly from an individual.
Comment by Dean Da Costa on February 15, 2010 at 10:34am
As I stated assessments are a good tool, when utilized with other tools. On their own, not so much. I think we are all in agreement on that. As for references determining a person integrity, to a point yes, but let's remember references are given by the candidate, in most cases that means they are already pre determined to say positive things, weather true or not. Also remember that there has been case law of references and companies being successfully sued over the information they provided via a reference or prior company check. Asking the questions I listed to the candidate and then listening carefully to the answers will tell you much. Also remember that some references may not have all the detailed info as it relates to the questions I listed. The candidate will and if asked properly and you listen to the answers carefully and see how the answers correlate to the resume and background. You will gleam the needed info. I have been doing this for many years and this method has not failed me yet.


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