Honesty and Integrity Job Interview Questions & Answers
The greatest skillset and top-notch degrees cannot make up for lack of honesty and integrity in the workplace. A reputation of questionable honesty and integrity will not get you far as a professional. Professional relationships are built on trust, and of course, trust requires integrity.
Interviewers use carefully composed interview questions to assess candidates on how they value integrity and if this matches the view of the company. The answers you give to interview questions about honesty and integrity should come across naturally, and real, not rehearsed.
There are different kinds of honesty and integrity questions. Some questions will regard you and your personality, and some will regard your work behavior. The questions about your behavior are called behavioral interview questions.
Examples of honesty & integrity interview questions about your personality and you:
- How do you think others would describe you?
- How will you earn the trust of your colleagues?
Behavioral job interview questions are often used by interviewers during job interviews. These types of strategic interview questions require you to provide the interviewer with an example situation that you experienced in professional work environments. Behavioral job interview questions focus on work situations that you experienced in the past and how you responded to them. The way you respond to these questions tells the interviewer more about your work methods and ethics.
Examples of honesty & integrity behavioral interview questions are:
- Tell me about a time you had to admit a mistake to your coworker(s).
- What was the hardest challenge you faced in your career, and what action did you take to solve it?
In this article, we discuss why the interviewer is asking you honesty and integrity interview questions. Also, we show you how to prepare for these questions and how you should answer them. Furthermore, read more about frequently asked job interview questions here and check our job interview preparation checklist.
Why the interviewer is asking honesty and integrity job interview questions
For employers, establishing mutual trust with their employees is a great goal. Furthermore, it’s the key to maintaining their company culture in the organization. This is also the reason why interviewers try to assess your transparency and if you’re honest, accurate, and factual in your work behavior.
Integrity can be described as doing the right thing even when nobody else is around. Employers, for instance, mention this in their mission statements, such as ‘we act with integrity in everything we do‘ or ‘Honesty and integrity are our guiding principles.’
Interviewers try to gauge your ability to act with honesty and if you’re consistent in whatever it is you do, based on your moral value compass. They look for whether or not your values and beliefs match those of the company where you’re applying for a job.
During a job interview, interviewers ask you questions to discuss your honesty and integrity. They know that everybody faced integrity-based choices in a professional work environment. Some examples of these situations during work are do you tell your client that you made a mistake? Or do you tweak facts during a client meeting to suit your position? Do you make promises that you can’t keep? These are all examples that require personal judgment. Of course, the answer to these questions is no. At least not if you want to be in business for a longer period of time.
The goal of the interviewer
The goal of the interviewer is to find out whether or not you just follow the corporate responsibility and to see if you take responsibility on a personal level as well. For example, when you’re applying for a managerial position, the interviewer expects you to give examples of how you apply and discuss your integrity values within your team. You could, for instance, explain to the interviewer that you discuss the thinking behind individual decisions. Think, for instance, of basic principles such as if you make a promise you should keep it, or when you make a mistake, own up to it, but also leading by example.
The bottom line for you as a candidate is showing the interviewer that you understand that you’re part of something bigger than just yourself. It’s up to you to demonstrate that you’re aware of your duty to carry out your job duties with the best interest of your employer and clients in mind.
The reason behind hiring for ethics, honesty, and integrity
Employers are looking for candidates whose values and beliefs match those of the company. This is also why there are several reasons why they want to assess your honesty and integrity in a job interview. Hiring the right candidate is their number one objective. Instead of just hiring the candidate that they like best, interviewers need something better to find out whether or not the candidate is the right fit for the job.
They can do this by asking questions that go more in-depth into your personality or by asking behavioral interview questions. Through the analysis of your past work behavior in situations that are similar to the ones you will encounter in the position that you’re applying for, interviewers try to assess your job suitability.
Interviewers try to include the working ethics and policies of the company to create questions to assess whether or not candidates consider the rules and regulations a mandatory aspect of their job that they should strictly follow. Also, these interviewer questions are used to find out if a candidate will try to break these rules on the job when a dilemma or difficult situation occurs.
It’s likely that the interviewer will inquire about your previous jobs and the activities you have done to support company ethics. Honest candidates will answer questions in a way that demonstrates that they understand the difference between a guideline and rule. It’s therefore important that you discuss example situations of how you acted according to company ethics in the past.
There are several elements that employers consider when asking you these kinds of interview questions.
The costs of making a bad hiring decision
If it turns out that a hired candidate does not fit the position well or does not share the same values and beliefs, this can be a costly mistake. These costs are not limited to just losing money. Making the wrong hiring decision can also lead to decreased productivity. Furthermore, hiring the wrong person that does not share the same honesty, integrity, and beliefs can leave a bad impression on clients, customers, but also with coworkers.
Another issue is that the company will lose time if they need to search for another candidate after a bad hire. This is the reason why employers do anything in their power to avoid making bad hiring decisions. Analyzing your personality and asking behavioral interview questions are considered as a preventative way to ensure to hire the candidate with the right fit for the company.
The interviewer wants to uncover specific details of your work behavior
Interviewers are not just interested in your resume, personality, and how you and others look at yourself; they also want you to explain your work behavior through examples. These examples should include you discussing handling work situations in a way as required for the job that you’re applying for. Through these behavioral interview questions, interviewers get a better insight into your professional behavior. Make sure that when you get asked a question about honesty and integrity, you give a straightforward and come across sincere.
Behavioral interview questions give the interviewer the ability to get more in-depth information during a job interview. They already got your resume already and maybe even a motivational letter or letter of recommendation. This means that they have a basic understanding of your background and education. However, they want you to elaborate more to uncover specific details of your professional behavior.
The interviewer can only assess your hard skills and educational levels based on your resume and motivational letter. Soft skills are better to assess during job interviews with the help of behavioral questions. This is also the reason why you should include scenarios in your answers that demonstrate how you handle daily tasks, how you approach challenges in the workplace, and what you learned from mistakes.
Past behavior is the best predictor for your future performance
By asking you to give specific examples of your past behavior, interviewers try to determine your future success in the position that you’re applying for. This interview technique gives them a more in-depth insight into your future work performance.
Make sure you prepare for these questions and expect related questions about, for instance, your strengths and weaknesses too. Prepare example answers with scenario’s that you’ve encountered in which you used the required competencies, skills, and abilities of the job. You can find most of this information in the job description. This allows you to provide concise and to-the-point answers that directly relate to what the interviewer is looking for, for instance, demonstrating honesty and integrity.
The interviewer can avoid making the wrong decision
By using behavioral interview questions, the interviewer can gauge your future job performance and make a better hiring decision. A perfect resume, motivational level, or cover letter is not enough to impress seasoned interviewers.
The way you answer interview questions about honesty and integrity says a lot about you and your personality. The information you give in your answers gives interviewers a better insight into your approach to critical situations and if your approach matches the ones required for the job.
By preparing the right way, you can ensure that the example answer situations include aspects of the most important requirements of the job. Interviewers specifically look for candidates that fit the job description, so make sure that your answers relate to the job requirements.
What the interviewer is looking for in your answers
If you fail to answer questions about company ethics or if you can’t bring up examples of how you handled situations in the past, an interviewer could get a bad impression about you. If you’re not able to state the specific ethics and guidelines of your previous employers, this can be interpreted in different ways.
The interviewer could conclude that if you’re unaware of the different guidelines, policies, and rules that you’re bound to get into malpractices during your work. If your answers indicate that you are aware of the company policies and ethics, it’s likely that the interviewer will ask you to provide situations where you had to apply such guidelines to make effective decisions.
In short, the interviewer wants to gain knowledge about your work approach. That’s why we can’t emphasize enough how important it is that you’re able to come up with example scenarios that include you making decisions according to company ethics, protocol, guidelines, and rules. Solid preparation will get you there.
Interviewers are looking for you to demonstrate that you understand and have worked according to company ethics, protocols, guidelines, and rules successfully before. This is basically them analyzing whether or not you are able to demonstrate that you can take on the daily tasks and responsibilities required for the job plus that you have growth potential.
For instance, how you deal with stressful situations and if you can handle these situations while still working effectively. In this case, you need to demonstrate how you can adapt and how you work under pressure. These types of questions give the interviewer a better insight into your attitude, honesty, motivation, and work ethics.
Who you are and how you approach your work
Employers want to get a better insight into who you really, how you approach your work, and if you understand what’s required for the job. Basically, the interviewers want to get the following questions answered:
- Do you consider rules and regulations as mandatory aspects that you should follow?
- Do you act with integrity in everything you do, and can you give an example of how you did so in the past?
- Are your honesty and integrity your guiding principles?
- Have you ever broke the rules or regulations during work when a dilemma occurred?
- Do you know the difference between guidelines and rules?
- Do you act according to company ethics? Can you give examples of how you did so in the past?
Red flags for interviewers assessing your honesty and integrity
There are several elements that interviewers consider warning signs when gauging your honesty and integrity during a job interview. Establishing trust with employees is a great company goal and is also key to creating the company culture they want to achieve in their organization.
During the interview, it’s up to you to show that you have the integrity to resolve ethical dilemmas in a skillful manner. You can do this by using concrete examples from your work experience and referring to how you handled situations by abiding, for instance, ethical codes, company rules, regulations, and laws.
Interview questions about your honesty and integrity are a great opportunity for you to show that you can take the right course of action in unclear work situations. You can expect the interviewer to ask you about actual situations as well as about hypothetical issues and how you would handle situations.
Avoiding questions or not providing enough details to convince
If you can’t answer interview questions about honesty and integrity or if you’re avoiding giving answers about how you handled such situations in the past, this can be considered a warning sign by interviewers.
When the interviewer asks you a specific question, and in your answer, you claim that you have worked according to ethics, rules, and regulations before, you better be able to back this up through clear examples. If you fail to do so, this could lead to a quick elimination of your candidacy for the position. If an interviewer has trouble verifying your statements or claims, this could be a red flag.
Failing to respond effectively (to follow-up questions)
Effective responses to interview questions are crucial. If you fail to do so, this could come across as weak. Therefore, when you’re preparing answer-scenarios to questions that you’re expecting during your interview, also think about possible follow-up questions the interviewer might ask based on the information you provide them with. Because you already know what the details in your answer scenarios include, you can anticipate follow-up questions that are likely to be asked.
For instance, if you are preparing for a question such as ‘Have you ever expected unethical behavior at work and have you confronted it or chosen not to get involved?‘ you can expect the interviewer to follow up with ‘Why?‘ and ‘Would you do something differently next time you encounter such a situation?‘.
Not taking responsibility
Honesty and integrity questions revolve around taking responsibility. If your answers don’t demonstrate that you take responsibility for your actions or certain situations regarding work ethics, this can be considered a red flag.
Being self-aware and being able to reflect on the situation are important characteristics to possess in the workplace. Employers look for candidates that can explain and demonstrate how they think and act in situations.
It’s good to realize that the interviewers know that making errors and mistakes is part of human nature. They understand that you make or have made mistakes, just like everybody else. Making mistakes is a crucial part of the learning process and also ensures growth and development. Ensure that your answers demonstrate that you take responsibility for situations and describe the actions you took to repair any problems or challenges.
Not taking or giving credit
Interviewers usually check if candidates are actually truthful about their work, experience, but also if they try to give credit that is deserving to other employees and colleagues. An essential feature of an honest employee is that they give the rightful credit to others.
It’s not an ethical thing to take credit for something that you’re not responsible for. Besides it not being ethical, it’s also not a professional thing to do in a professional organization. Interviewers will ask you questions to verify and double-check, so make sure you’re prepared for this.
Negativity in your interview in any form is considered a red flag. This can be talking inappropriately about previous colleagues or employers, but also work experience situations in general. Negative undertones never impress interviewers the right way. Therefore, focus on yourself, put yourself in the best light possible, and give credit when credit is due.
Frequently asked honesty and integrity job interview questions
Below you can find commonly asked interview questions about honesty and integrity.
General honesty and integrity interview questions:
- Do you always do what you say you’re going to do?
- What is a thing you would change if you were made manager in your current position?
- If you were overpaid on your paycheck, would you speak up?
- Tell me about your ideal company culture.
- Tell me about your ideal position in a company?
Behavioral honesty and integrity interview questions:
- Tell me about a time when you paid the price to maintain integrity.
- What would you do if you were given credit for something a colleague was actually responsible for?
- Tell me about a time you went out of your way to get something completed.
- If a colleague needs to leave work early and the boss does not know about this, would you cover for them?
- Would you cover for a colleague in general?
- What circumstance do you find justifiable to break professional confidence?
- Can you describe a work incident where you were totally honest, despite a potential risk or downside for your honesty?
- Tell me about a time you had to adapt to a new situation at work.
- Why did you leave your last job?
- What would you do if you were given criticism for something a colleague was actually responsible for?
- Have you ever called in sick when you were not?
- Tell me about a time you went above and beyond to help a customer or colleague.
- Would you cover for a colleague who’s taking home office supplies?
- Describe a stressful work situation and how you handled it.
- Tell me about a time you were in a situation where your honesty was tested.
Preparing answers to honesty and integrity interview questions
There are a couple of important steps you can take to prepare for honesty and integrity interview questions.
Do your homework and research
Doing your homework and research on the position and company, in general, is the best way to start your preparation. By thoroughly studying the job description, you can identify the needed competencies, skills, and abilities.
Make a list of the required competencies, skills, and abilities
Questions about honesty and integrity are perfect for demonstrating your experience, competencies, and results. Based on the identified competencies, skills, and abilities, you can make an educated guess on what kind of interview questions you can expect. Next, based on the questions you think you will most likely get, you can prepare answer scenarios.
A lot of companies look for skills such as teamwork, leadership, flexibility, attention to detail, adaptability, creativity, responsibilities, etc. Rank the skills on importance in relation to the requirements of the position that you are interviewing for.
Create a list of your past experiences that relate to the job you’re applying for
The next step is preparing the actual examples of work experience situations in which you actually show your suitability. Make a list of these past experiences and highlight successful situations where you demonstrated behavior related to the competencies, skills, and abilities required for the position. Focus on delivering concise and to-the-point answers. The most efficient way to do this is by using the STAR interview technique.
Prepare successful example situations and challenging ones
Being able to discuss successful situations is just as important as being able to discuss challenging situations. Ensure that you have some examples ready of work situations in which you faced a challenge but came out on top. Explain to the interviewer what you did in that particular situation, why you did it, and what the result was. Furthermore, discuss what you learned from the situation.
Focus on demonstrating problem-solving ability, adaptability, and ability to professionally approach and handle situations that require integrity. It’s likely that the interviewer will ask follow-up questions. They do this to assess your self-awareness by asking how you might handle a similar kind of situation differently now.
Use the STAR method to structure your answer
If the interviewer asks you a behavioral question such as ‘Tell me about a time you went above and beyond to help a customer or colleague.‘ he or she wants you to provide them with an example of a real-life situation in which you actually went above and beyond to help a customer or coworker.
The STAR interview technique allows you to concisely provide the interviewer with an answer that’s logically structured. It’s a step by step method that logically walks the interviewer through a situation.
STAR Interview Technique
The most efficient way to answer behavioral interview questions is by providing structure answers according to the STAR interview technique. This way, you ensure that you directly answer the question and give the interviewers exactly what they are looking for. STAR is an acronym that stands for a situation (S), your task (T) in that situation, the actions (A) you took, and what results (R) you got based on your actions. These are the basic steps you take in your walkthrough.
If you follow the steps below, you make sure that you provide a to-the-point answer about how you acted in certain work situations.
Start your answer by briefly setting the scene. Detail the background and provide context around it. What situation were you facing? Where? When? Make sure to include relevant details.
Next, describe the challenge and expectations of the situation. What needed to be done, and why? It’s important that the interviewer gets an understanding of your task.
Discuss your specific actions. What did you do to resolve the challenge you were facing? How did you do it? Walk the interviewer through the process of taking action.
Explain the results you got from your actions. Examples of results are accomplishments, recognition, savings, etc. If you can quantify the results, this is even better because it gives more weight to your story.
Also, provide the interviewer with information about what you learned from the situation. Focus on positive results and positive learning experiences.
General elements to consider when structuring your STAR answer:
- Give the interviewer an answer in the form of a ‘story’ and structure this story logically. Use the STAR interview technique to do this.
- Display the skills and abilities that are needed for the job you’re applying for and that the interviewer wants to see. Match your qualifications to the job and skills, as mentioned in the job description.
- Be honest. Interviewers will notice if you make a story up. Also, they will ask follow-up questions to go more in-depth into the situation you provide them with. Make sure to prepare several example situations of skills and abilities that you think will be discussed based on your research.
Sample answers to honesty and integrity job interview questions
Below you will find some example honesty and integrity questions and answers. The examples are already written in STAR format so that you can see how you can structure your answers. However, these are ‘general’ examples. Do not forget to structure your answers in a way that includes enough detail to convince the interviewer that you’re the right person for the position you’re applying for.
STAR-Method Example 1: ‘Tell me about a time you failed at work. How did you fix the situation?’
‘In my previous position as a developer, I was responsible for optimizing an important piece of code that I created. During the process, it became more clear that I hit a wall and was not able to figure it out alone. I suppose I could have come up with a quick solution and work my way around the problem to save face and all the hard work that I put in the project.
However, I realized that would be a temporary solution that in my opinion, was not optimal. I decided to talk to my team and explain the problems that I ran into. After a brief discussion and brainstorming session, we decided to rebuild the code in such a way that it would allow us to quickly expand on the product whenever needed.
In hindsight, we really got something good out of the experience. I was pretty nervous to talk to my team and admitting my failure and biting of more than I could chew. However, I knew it was the right thing to do and it turned out a success.’
Why this is a strong answer:
- The provided example is related and relevant to the workplace, plus it directly answers the question of the interviewer.
- The answer demonstrates honesty and integrity.
- This answer shows important skills such as being pro-active, growth potential, and problem-solving skills.
- The new situation eventually led to a better product. This gives more weight to the scenario in which you had to adapt.