Hiring with integrity

Hiring with integrity

I recently interviewed small business owners who are about to hire for the first time, or already work with a small team. This is one of the questions I usually ask at the beginning of the interview. “What comes to your mind spontaneously, when you think of “Hiring”?”

What really struck me, was that my interview partners almost always recalled bad memories of situations they experienced in the past, when they applied for a job themselves, not situations as business owners interviewing applicants. Negative feelings of being at the mercy of somebody, fear of being rejected, being criticized, being let down by promises not kept.

What thoughts come to mind for you?

Positive or negative associations when you think of “hiring”?

If you find yourself in the same place as my interview partners and are about to hire, keep reading, this post will help you reframe the whole picture and give you tips on how you can hire with integrity, whilst also feeling better.

Having those negative feelings about hiring, you are more at home in your applicant’s shoes than in the shoes of a potential team leader and employer. Because you feel uncomfortable and almost guilty about your role and interviewing them, you tend to be overfriendly, over-selling, not sure what you can ask for, too nice. This is not helpful for anyone. t can even lead to false impressions on both sides, neither side is really in a position to check properly what they are buying into.

Perhaps you feel so much out of your depth, that you decide not to “formally” interview applicants at all. That’s why many small business owners go down the road of having informal, short chats over a coffee. You can even justify it to yourself, because, after all you are so busy.

Here you will find some tips on how you can

  • get a more professional hiring process, creating a positive experience for both sides,
  • have a better feeling during interviewing, being confident and in tune with your values,
  • be kind and clear about requirements and boundaries, focusing on the needs of your business,
  • stay clear of icky, unhelpful procedures.

7 tips for hiring with integrity

  1. Invest some time, to make yourself familiar with a professional hiring process, even if you hire just one person for the first time. Run the process consciously. Chances are that you are learning a lot about yourself, your business and about what kind of person you really want and need for your business. So it’s worth spending the time and energy.
  2. Gain clarity about experience, knowledge and skills a future team member requires to make a positive contribution for your business, other than simply being a nice person. It is easier to say “no” to an applicant, if you have defined clear exclusion criteria in advance.
  3. Keep in mind that hiring is always a two-way street: both sides want to find out if they are a good match. For example write polite emails and letters, keep them informed, where you are in the process. At all costs check letters/emails before sending them out: My husband once received a rejection letter with the full name and address of another applicant.
  4. Don’t make promises you can’t keep. For example, if you promise to keep their application confidential, make sure that you don’t do anything that gets them into trouble with their current employer. If you promise a light work environment, e.g. next to a window, don’t stick them in a cupboard. For virtual teams: Don’t promise weekly catch-up’s if you already know you won’t make it.
  5. Reject applicants in a good way. For example, finish an interview politely after a decent conversation and don’t send them away after 10mins, just because you have realised that they are no good fit. They made an effort to come and took the time. Honour them for the commitment they make.
  6. Even consider giving them feedback about their resume or overall impression, just don’t commit yourself to anything: You will find advice in many books on recruitment not to do this, just to be on the safe side. If you don’t give feedback at all, there is no way for a candidate to initiate legal actions against you because you have made promises.
    I don’t agree with this. This is a “win-or lose attitude”, it doesn’t create a win-win situation. It’s about paranoia, not everybody wants to sue you. I often give feedback to applicants hopefully useful for their future job interviews. People are usually surprised and delighted, very grateful for feedback. I’ve never had problems with giving feedback in more than a decade, interviewing hundreds of applicants.
  7. Provide candidates with all the information they need to make an informed decision, and give them time at the end of the interview to ask all the questions they still might have. If you just interview a handful of candidates, you can even offer them the opportunity to call you after the interview. They are also nervous and might not remember everything they wanted to ask.

Trying just some of the tips, you can do a better job than all the employers of the past who gave you a hard time when you applied for a job. You can see the opportunities connected with hiring, not just the threats. After all, it is all about integrity and the connection with another human being.

Don’t forget:

Your brilliant future team members
are out there,
just waiting for you to hire them.
You should present them
your amazing business
and amazing self
in the very best light.


It will pay off if you do this with passion and dedication. Just imagine how it will feel to have found a new team member, and finally get the support you so much need.

Please leave a comment here and share your thoughts:

What are your experiences with interviewing applicants?
What else could we all do to make sure that we hire with integrity, in tune with our values?


Image: Jutta Nedden

© Jutta Nedden, Lead & Connect, 05/2016

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