Let’s review tips for your answers and mistakes and dive into the ten most asked questions about integrity when you prepare for a job interview. Hiring managers and human resources will ask various integrity interview questions to find a good fit for the position.
An employer wants to make the right decision, whether for customer service or a sales job. The following questions, tips, and mistakes can help you address these questions successfully.
5 Tips for Your Answer
- Focus on your professional life and how it related to what you know about the position.
- Keep your answers brief and simple, without unnecessary details.
- Share any research you’ve done about the company during the interview through your questions and answers.
- Show a positive attitude and interest in the company’s goals.
- Be prepared to share specific examples of interactions and job experience.
5 Mistakes to Avoid
- Speaking negatively about your previous job or a difficult coworker.
- Discussing personal relationships and only discussing personal (non-work) subjects.
- Interrupting the interviewer.
- Giving vague or uncertain answers.
- Sharing confidential and private information.
Here are the 10 best answers to the following integrity interview questions.
1. Did you ever disagree with your boss or supervisor? Why did you disagree, and how did you handle the situation?
It’s not easy when a supervisor or manager tests your integrity, even when you make the right decision when faced with a difficult situation or ethical dilemma. You can respond with an example of how you disagreed with a decision and showed respect while following your former employer’s rules and regulations. It’s essential to explain how you used good communication skills by approaching the supervisor directly and any suggestions or ideas you provided to demonstrate problem-solving skills.
I had a situation where my manager wanted me to skip some steps in the security process. This scenario occurred in a retail store as we were closing the shop. When I disagreed with her, I explained that I felt responsible in my role for protecting the store so that she understood why I respectfully disagreed with her decision.
2. How would you define integrity in the workplace?
A potential employer will ask this question to find out how honest you are and if you would act with integrity on the job. A hiring manager asks this question to measure your understanding of integrity. He or she also asks this to understand whether you would gain favor with a coworker by telling a little white lie or would follow your employer’s rules consistently at all times.
At work, integrity means following the rules and guidelines consistently, even if it’s not easy, because it’s in the best interest of the company, customers, workers, and safety.
3. How do you respond if you’re asked to share confidential information?
Job candidates must explain how they would protect a company’s private information and confidential details about customers. It’s essential to safeguard customer files and company records and never share information unless there is authorization to do so. It’s always best, if possible, to provide a real-life situation where you were faced with the challenge of protecting confidential information.
If a customer asked me to provide information about a coworker or confidential details about the company, I would politely refuse. If they insisted, I would explain the importance of keeping the information confidential, including details about any purchases, their credit, their address, their name, and even whether or not they are even a customer in the first place.
4. Would you tell a little lie to a customer if there were an unexpected problem that delayed their order or an error that caused a problem?
An HR manager is looking for an honest candidate, even if it means they must deliver difficult news to a client. This subject is one of the most common integrity interview questions because it really asks two questions: how far are you willing to go to please a customer, and are you willing to lie to protect your employer, even if there’s a risk of being caught? A little lie may seem like the easy way to deal with a difficult client, but it could cause problems at a later time with that customer. From a larger perspective, a little lie could cause reputational damage to the company, which would have a negative impact for years to come.
An honest candidate understands that while an employer appreciates employee loyalty, displaying real integrity is crucial. It’s a trick question that requires a careful but well-prepared answer.
If I were faced with the moral decision of telling a small lie to a customer, I wouldn’t feel right about it. I would rather handle the customer’s disappointment and look for a way to settle the matter, either with an alternative product, service, or discount. I would also acknowledge and empathize with the customer and reassure them that I would do everything I can to resolve the issue.
5. Describe the biggest mistake you made in your professional experience.
Everyone makes mistakes, but not everyone wants to admit their failures, especially when it’s related to their career. While admitting to the worst thing you’ve done on the job may feel counterproductive in a job interview, the hiring manager is looking to establish whether a candidate accepts responsibility for their error. The interviewer wants to determine if a candidate is willing to discuss a past experience openly and understand how they took steps to improve. Improvement may mean reviewing company policies, studying a work-related document, or setting new milestones for future career goals.
The biggest mistake I made as a property manager was not delegating enough work to my administrative assistant. I overestimated how much workload I could handle, which created a stressful work environment, and left my coworkers feeling confused. When I realized this error, I met with my staff, including the administrative assistant, at a team meeting to discuss everyone’s skill set, ability to take on new projects, and expected the results.
It was an important lesson that could have negatively impacted my career, but I overcame this obstacle and improved my performance at my last job with proper communication and responsible decision-making.
6. Tell me about a time when you made the right decision and it had a negative impact on your job. Looking back, do you wish you have done something differently?
These types of questions show the candidate’s commitment to making the right choice, even if it means experiencing a setback. While a candidate’s honesty is essential for the potential employer, how you handle a potential problem that may arise can indicate whether you have strong interpersonal skills and display your core values of integrity, especially in stressful, fast-paced situations.
I worked as a team leader in a production facility, and when we discovered an error in one of the product lines, we had to stop immediately, then restart the process once it was corrected. I always aim to be honest, even if it means I am blamed or there is a delay in meeting a team goal. E
ven though we didn’t achieve our metrics for the project, I still felt comfortable with my decision, as it prevented a possible faulty product from making it to the retail store, which could have resulted in dissatisfied customers and reputational harm, or maybe even worse (such as a lawsuit).
7. How did you benefit from consistent performance and resilience on the job? What were the results?
For this question, the interviewer is looking to understand whether the candidate would be an essential part of the team over time and through a changing company environment. One way to demonstrate this, as well as the candidate’s commitment, is to discuss a time when they set and achieved milestones on the job despite setbacks or problems that may have challenged their efforts. When you bounce back from a problematic situation or help facilitate a turn-around by improving sales or customer service, this also demonstrates how you would be a critical long-term part of a team. When a company goes through a merger or a small business expands to include new services, adapting to a new work environment, going through a training program, and being flexible with changes to your job will all be critical elements to have.
In my previous role, I was transferred to a new department because the company merged and some positions became obsolete. The new job was challenging and required working with new coworkers. I also needed to master new software and procedures. I decided that if I wanted to succeed, I needed to keep my work ethic consistent, as I did previously.
So, I asked my supervisor how I could learn more about the new procedures to improve my performance, and also asked for advice on goal-setting for my position. Because of my past success with goal-setting, I knew that a similar process would set me up for success in my new position, and it worked out well.
8. How would you handle a coworker or manager if you saw them commit an illegal act?
An employer must ensure that a potential employee understands and follows the rules in accordance with laws and regulations. It’s also crucial for staff to show integrity when they witness an illegal act and do the right thing, even if it impacts a professional or personal relationship. This is a good question for law enforcement jobs and other common industries, such as finance, healthcare, public service, and retail services.
It is crucial to abide by local laws and rules. Still, it’s also essential to ensure coworkers, managers, and subordinates do the same and notify the proper authorities if illegal activities occur. Many employers also require a background or reference check to ensure you are a good fit for the company.
My position as a healthcare administrator means I must protect confidential information for patients and ensure that proper procedures are followed when documents are filed and stored. If I witnessed a breach of confidentiality or illegal behavior, I would be compelled to report it, as it could negatively impact patients, their families, and staff.
9. How would you handle the situation if you were overpaid or given a bonus that you weren’t eligible to receive?
When you receive a bonus on your paycheck, it can be an exciting moment until you realize it’s a mistake. While a slight difference may only seem to have a little impact, it’s an unintentional mistake that must be corrected. Having integrity means that you would report this error to human resources and the payroll department. The bonus or increase in pay you received may have been intended for another employee, who will likely question the missing amount. A potential employer must ensure that staff will communicate honestly when there’s an error, even a minor one, because employers need to be able to trust their employees to do the right thing.
If I received a bonus or increased pay, I would be excited, but also aware of whether or not it was a mistake. Even if the amount isn’t much more than my regular pay, I would review my paystub to find more information, then contact the payroll department to verify whether or not I should have received the additional amount. If I worked in payroll, I would appreciate being informed of errors, as they may not always be easy to detect without receiving notification.
10. If you’re tasked with deciding on a project or a team, how do you ensure your choice is the best option?
This tricky question may catch many candidates off-guard. Some decisions require careful assessment and consideration, as they may impact staff, the workplace, and how situations are handled on the job. When an interviewer asks this question, it’s a meaningful way to gauge how a potential employee can handle responsibility and consider the impact of a significant decision affecting everyone involved, including customers. A good track record of performance is only part of what impresses the hiring manager, as the hiring manager will want to learn how candidates handle critical situations and make decisions quickly that improve work conditions and goals.
As a new manager in my previous role, I was careful not to make any decision too quickly before reviewing my options, getting feedback from team members, and consulting with coworkers with more experience. When faced with a critical issue, I consider what’s best for the workplace and everyone involved, including customers, so that I can provide the reasons for my decision. I consider different factors, including our budget, goals, and how easily we can achieve them.
Potential employers view integrity as one of an employee’s most essential characteristics, which is why behavioral interview questions are often asked. Behavioral questions are not straightforward, and if you haven’t prepared adequately, they are sometimes tough questions. One of the best ways to prepare for a job interview, specifically questions about integrity, is to think of examples of situations at your previous jobs and how you succeeded in your role with honesty and consistency. When you demonstrate a solid understanding of integrity and what it means on the job, you’ll find these interview questions become much easier to answer.
Keith Miller has over 25 years of experience as a CEO and serial entrepreneur. As an entrepreneur, he has founded several multi-million dollar companies. As a writer, Keith's work has been mentioned in CIO Magazine, Workable, BizTech, and The Charlotte Observer. If you have any questions about the content of this blog post, then please send our content editing team a message here.