Most Important Issue In A Job Interview

“I believe that honesty wins. Not only the kind of honesty that keeps a man’s fingers out of his neighbor’s till, but the finer honesty that will not allow a man to give less than his best, the kind of honesty that makes him count not his hours but his duties and opportunities.” ~ J.C. Penney

I was thinking this morning about what I would want to see in someone the most if I had to hire them into my company. In my mind I went through the long list: proper skills, education, relevant experience, career progression, etc. And after about 30 minutes of thinking during my commute, I settled on integrity defined as “adherence to moral and ethical principles and values; soundness of moral character; honesty” as the most critical requirement. Can you think of any other as being more important? Would I hire someone who’s excellent at what they do but has no integrity? What about someone with thirty years of experience with low integrity? How about someone who is a PhD but has not flexed his integrity muscle? You get the point.

My next thought was if integrity is so important then why is it not the highest on the list in interviewing books and workshops. Why are tests to measure integrity not prevalent in everyday hiring? I am not aware of any school classes or college courses that specifically look into this subject in depth (aside from the standard ethics course). I propose that next to basic financial education in our school system (also currently missing), there must be systematic education and exercise of the integrity muscle. I further suggest that special parent education exist on upbringing of children with strong moral character. Today this effort is handled largely inside our families with little external support. Certain organizations also help but parents do not always participate and sometimes cannot even afford the time or the expense of joining these.

Perhaps with greater emphasis on integrity, politics would improve. I would go as far as saying that international relations would improve but that might take a generation or two. I am no saint but I try to adhere to my own rules and it’s actually pretty hard. I hope you can also see the many benefits of integrity all around you.

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