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Character Counts: How to Hire Employees of Integrity

“In looking for people to hire, you look for three qualities: integrity, intelligence, and energy. And if you don't have the first, the other two will kill you.” —Warren Buffett

You can shape the skills of an employee. You cannot instill character. It is vital that employers not only seek employees with the requisite expertise, but also evaluate applicants based on their character. Here are three ways to evaluate integrity in the hiring process:

1. Listen to their references. How do their references describe them? Do they only talk about their competence and experience or do they also describe their reliability, honesty, and investment in others? Those who have worked with an individual for a sustained duration are your best window into who they really are.

2. Consider their descriptions. How does the interviewee talk about their coworkers? Do they cast former supervisors in a negative light? Be aware if they shift blame elsewhere or if they make a point to honor the contributions of others.

3. Notice their interactions. How do they treat the receptionist that greets them? Are they courteous to those they don’t think can benefit them? A person of character will respect every individual they meet, regardless of position.