What’s the most important soft skill in the workplace? Communication, teamwork, adaptability and conflict resolution all rank high on the list, but most employers put integrity near the very top. Let’s look at what integrity is and why it’s so highly sought after in all areas of life.
More Than Simple Honesty
People with integrity are honest, but there’s much more to this soft skill than just telling the truth. Basically, everything about them lines up.
When they say they will do something, they do it. Their actions are consistent with what they say they believe. Their choices and activities are driven by a strong moral character. If someone said that person lied, cheated or stole your first reaction would be disbelief because to do so would be completely out of character for them.
Examples of Integrity
Integrity can be difficult to define, but you know it when you see it. Someone who has integrity does things like the following:
- If he forgets to pay for or breaks something, he points it out and asks to settle up.
- She keeps promises even when unforeseen circumstances make it hard.
- He would never consider letting a co-worker take the blame for his mistake or taking credit for someone else’s work.
- She doesn’t gossip or start drama.
- He doesn’t take shortcuts that would compromise quality.
- She works when she’s supposed to, even if she could get away with using company time for personal use.
- He feels personally responsible for making efficient use of company resources.
Integrity Matters During These Professional Life Stages
Integrity makes a difference throughout the career cycle. During job seeking, candidates show integrity by being straightforward on their resumes and during interviews. When they do, they’re more likely to find work for which they’re qualified and company culture into which they fit. When candidates stretch the truth at this stage they may think they’re just trying to get their foot in the door, but they could destroy all chances of future employment.
Integrity makes all the difference when workers are establishing themselves in a new role. When they show up ready to work day after day and do what they promise, they quickly begin to stand out. Co-workers depend on them and managers trust them.
When people step into leadership roles and continue to demonstrate integrity, their team finds them worthy of respect. They have a track record of honesty, approachability and taking pride in work well done. Because leaders with integrity hold themselves to high standards, they can ask staff to do the same.
Can You Develop Integrity?
People with integrity often credit role models who shaped and inspired them very early in life. If you didn’t have the perfect upbringing, you can still develop integrity by connecting your inner values and external behaviors.
Ask yourself where your morals and ethics come from and identify the ones on which you refuse to compromise. Find people you know who consistently act with integrity and spend more time interacting with them.
Stop making promises altogether, except the ones to which you can be 100 percent committed. If you’re not sure about something just be honest. It’s better to say no to some things than to encourage someone to count on you and not deliver.
If you make a mistake, address it immediately. Admit what you did and apologize, then take steps to reimburse losses or undo the damage. If habits like speaking impulsively or overcommitting keep you from demonstrating integrity, find ways to change those behaviors.
Interview Questions About Integrity
Recruiters and hiring managers can spot candidates with integrity when they ask questions like:
- Can you tell me about a time you experienced failure at a previous job?
- What do you do when you make a mistake at work?
- Have you ever experienced negative consequences for doing the right thing?
- What do you see as the difference between company rules and company guidelines?
- Can you give me an example of a time when your integrity was challenged, and how did you handle it?
- Would your previous boss describe you as trustworthy? If so, why?
Everyone makes mistakes, the key here is to uncover how the candidate responded. Candidates with integrity will answer honestly even if the questions are uncomfortable or the situation could show them in a negative light.
Brelsford Personnel is committed to the highest standards of excellence in screening and selection for our clients. We can help your company hire candidates with the tangible and intangible skills you need. Get in touch to find out more.