• 14th June 2006 - By proteman

    In the film Meet the Parents, Robert DeNiro’s character is a parent/ex-CIA agent who is known as a “human lie detector.” Although he had a real polygraph machine in his basement, he didn’t need it. He could just tell when people were lying by talking to them. He would have made a great interviewer.

    It seems to be getting harder to find job candidates who have strong integrity. Candidates who are “integrity-challenged” don’t necessarily have criminal records, shifty eyes or sweaty palms. They may be normal-looking (even highly skilled) employees who hide mistakes or blame others, take credit for other people’s work, violate copyrights intentionally or sabotage others when upset.

    In our company’s Selection in Action training, managers often ask us, “What can we do as hiring managers to select for integrity and weed out those who lack it?” The easy answer is…there is no easy answer.

    The best we can do is set up an effective selection system that has validated, built-in assessments for integrity, including psychological testing, behavioral interviewing and simulations.

    However, even the best selection system can suffer from human error. Think about it. Well-built cars don’t have accidents. Drivers have accidents. The same goes for selection systems. Well-built selection systems rarely make mistakes. Hiring managers who use selection systems have accidents. The biggest “accident” a hiring manager can make in the selection process is ignoring the objective data that a strong selection process provides.

    If your selection system is set up properly, candidates who lack integrity will give clues throughout the selection process. They won’t come out and tell you that they lack integrity – they probably won’t admit to lying, cheating or sabotaging others. Here are some examples of what you might see and hear during a selection process, that are clues to a candidate’s questionable integrity:

    - Denying that they’ve made mistakes in the past or that they’ve had failures. When candidates consistently make comments such as, “I haven’t ever had a big failure or disappointment,” or “I haven’t had a conflict at work. I always get along with everybody,” you know they’re not telling the truth. If you hire them, don’t expect them to own up to mistakes in the workplace.

    - Showing up late for phone calls and interviews, rescheduling appointments, not following up as promised…and making excuses. No matter how much you love these candidates or how “perfect” they are for the job, don’t ignore how they behave during the selection process. This is your best clue as to how they’ll actually behave when you hire them.

    - Telling stories about how they achieved a positive result, but cut corners or “fudged the truth” to get the result. As hiring managers, it’s easy to be blinded by candidates’ stories of making customers happy, saving the company money or making a sale. Don’t ignore how they got those results. For example, a sales candidate who closed a million dollar contract at her last job may make a sales hiring manager salivate. But don’t forget to ask how the candidate got that million dollar sale. Did she have to overpromise deliverables to get the sale? Did the sale actually cost the company money because the margins weren’t high enough? Did she exaggerate her company’s capabilities, or sweeten the deal with unauthorized “freebies”, to close the sale? Dig deep and pay attention to the whole story.

    Of course, none of this is a guarantee that you’ll hire the perfect candidate with impeccable integrity. Like motivations or personal values, integrity isn’t something you can see easily. But you can become more like DeNiro’s “human lie detector” by engaging your integrity radar and paying attention to the clues candidates drop during the selection process. Chances are, candidates who are lacking integrity will subtly reveal themselves if you pay attention to the signs.

    And remember, most people are good. Assume that people have integrity until they show you otherwise. Try to be smart and objective when hiring…without being cynical or prejudging.

    ©2006 The Loyalty Group. All Rights Reserved. www.TheLoyaltyGroup.com

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