Let’s face it. Interviewing is a lot like speed-dating. You have a limited amount of time to spend with a potential employee. You ask all of the questions you can possibly think of. They pass a background check. References are glowing. You cannot find a single reason not to hire the person. Then, once you have hired and integrated them into your company, there is a slap in the face. They may have misrepresented themselves or your company to clients, stolen confidential information for their own benefit or attempted to damage your business in other ways. At that point, you are scratching your head wondering what you could have done to avoid this disgusting situation. The answer is screening candidates. 

One important factor is training your existing employees to interview properly. There are the standard interview questions, which are essential to qualify someone’s skill set, but the deeper dive on an individual’s personality might help identify some red flags. Below is a list of questions, but we recommend splitting these up between multiple interviewers so that they are not overwhelming to the candidate in one meeting.

Questions:

  1. Are there any jobs you have had which are not listed on this resume?
  2. For each title listed on this resume, are these all official titles given by the company? If not, please provide me with your official titles.
  3. Ask why the candidate left each job and make sure you know if s/he was terminated. If s/he was laid off, ask why.
  4. We are often in a situation to chose doing what is right for the company and what is right for the company’s client. Could you please provide me with examples of how you’ve had to handle a situation like this in the past to make it a win win for both sides?
  5. There are times when a client could take advantage of a company and keep driving prices up, etc. Have you ever been put in a situation where you’ve had to tell a client ‘no deal’? How did you handle it?
  6. Has your client ever asked you to bend the rules to keep their business? How did you handle it?
  7. How committed are you to get the sale? For example, have you ever been in a situation in which you had to oversell something? Please explain.
  8. How do you feel about process? Has there been an instance when you’ve had to go against company guidelines or procedures in order to get something done.
  9. We have all been in situations where we wished we handled a situation differently. Give me an example of your experience.
  10. How do you handle co-workers talking about other colleagues and gossiping?
  11. If someone wants to simply vent about a co-worker, how do you handle that?
  12. How would you feel about taking your current customers with you to a new job?

Most candidates with low integrity will simply say that they have not been in any of these situations – which may not be true. On the other hand, studies have shown that people with low integrity tend to think that everyone else has just as, if not lower, degrees of integrity.1 Thinking their behavior is normal, some will readily admit to it during the course of the interview.2 That being said, you might be able to pick up on key information with these type of questions.

Train your interviewers thoroughly. During the interview, look for behaviors and read body language as the candidate responds to questions. Make sure each and every employee signs a non-disclosure agreement and a non-compete agreement. Additionally, create a company handbook which lists out all of the company rules and make sure each and every employee signs something confirming their receipt of this handbook.

Best of luck with your interviewing!

Sources:

1 & 2 “Can You Interview for Integrity?” by William Byham from The Conference Board, No. 91 March 2004

“Spotting Lies” by Pamela Babcock from HR Magazine, October 2003

“Employment Screenings: Understanding Legal and Effective Ways to Prescreen Candidates” by Lisa DG Harpe, Ph.D. from Peopleclick whitepaper, July 2004