Victoria Sambursky

Most HR managers agree integrity is a crucial trait in employees. But can you truly measure integrity? SUM took a poll to ask HR managers what integrity means to them in the workplace. Below, we share the insights and answers to this question. We also expose the limiting factors HR managers face when screening employee integrity. Don’t forget to stick around for expert tips to deal with these hiring issues!

How Do You Define Integrity?

Indeed describes integrity in the workplace as showing your core values in all efforts. This means anything from being dependable to owning up to your mistakes. SUM looked beyond the standard definitions of integrity in the workplace. Instead, we took polls on social media to see how HR managers felt about this trait. We asked, “What does integrity really mean to you when hiring potential candidates?” We also asked what words they felt were synonymous with integrity. The answers, in order of importance, included:

  1. Trustworthy

  2. Honesty

  3. Authenticity

  4. Reliability

Other words/phrases included:

  • Ethics

  • Having a strong moral character.

  • Doing what’s right, fair, and legal.

Interestingly, the word authenticity received a lot of buzz. Some participants felt that being authentic leads to trust in the workplace. But without integrity, authenticity really can’t exist. Others felt honesty and trustworthiness are signs of integrity. But again, they felt authenticity is the true indicator of the trait.

When asked what integrity means when hiring a candidate, answers varied. HR Director Karen Oakey states, “Getting to the root of someone’s integrity is no easy task. When hiring, you need to build out your interview questions to be well-rounded. You need to work hard to gain these insights.” We know integrity is tough to define. So how do HR professionals measure it when hiring? Personality tests seem to be the gold standard when assessing this trait. But the real question here is – are they accurate?

Can Personality Tests Really Show if Someone’s Honest?

According to SHRM, employee personality tests measure attitudes, emotional adjustment, and motivation. But these tests have limitations that leave HR managers with a sour taste in their mouth. Critics claim that candidates can interpret the questions’ intent. This allows them to provide politically correct answers. Workable notes research finds that employee integrity tests result in honest people being labeled dishonest. This weeds out more candidates than necessary.

For example, a standard personality test might ask, “Have you ever lied to your manager?” If the candidate’s answer is yes, most tests fail to explain the “why” behind the response. They are too black and white. Standard tests won’t reveal that the candidate lied because they thought they’d lose their job. Or show that the person fears public speaking and avoids conflict. This talented candidate was rejected because of inaccurate testing. Now the company is missing out.

How to Recruit Top Talent With Integrity

The first step in finding employees with integrity? Find an accurate screening tool. SUM’s assessment takes a granular look at potential candidates. It reveals the “why” behind the answer. By using robust personnel reports, SUM reduces costly hiring risks. It also maximizes the employees’ talents. With our assessment, there is no “right or wrong” answer – only potential. Determining if a candidate has integrity is essential. Discovering the “why” behind their answers – that’s powerful. Check out Indeed and Business Insider’s tips on screening candidates.

  • See if the person communicates openly. People with integrity know honesty builds trust and increases value.

  • Does the candidate hold themselves accountable?  People with integrity hold themselves accountable. And not just to their superiors but to their coworkers.

  • Ask questions regarding ethics and integrity during the interview. Ask questions such as when their integrity was challenged. Or a business situation when they felt honesty was inappropriate. Don’t be afraid to go deeper if necessary.

So, what does integrity really mean? The answers can be complicated. But finding the right fit candidate is always worth the time and effort. Remember what C.S. Lewis said, “Integrity is doing the right thing, even when no one is watching.”