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BBB Advice: Preserve Ethics, Integrity of Your Business With Each Hire

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Starting a business isn’t easy. Growing a business can be even more difficult. As your team grows, it’s important to maintain the core values and culture upon which your organization was founded.
Employee theft is expensive. Losses can result from theft of supplies, product or by cheating hours on a timesheet. Dishonesty doesn’t just wreak havoc on the bottom line, it can also tarnish your brand’s reputation, drive away your customers, corrupt your company’s culture and weaken the integrity of other employees.
An honest business needs honest employees. Once you know what to look for, you’ll know who you can and can’t trust. Here are five best practices to help you hire for honesty.

Prioritize Honesty

Many employers make the mistake of jumping the gun and hiring people who have fancy educations or winning personalities — without checking to see if they’re trustworthy. You may get lucky, but why risk it when a bad hire can cause serious damage to your business? You can always teach people the skills to do the job, but you can’t teach integrity. People have it or they don’t.
To avoid making this mistake, make assessing for honesty an essential part of your hiring process. You may not come away with the most experienced or skilled employees, but at least you’ll be able to sleep at night, knowing you’ve got people on your team you trust.
Berkshire Hathaway CEO Warren Buffet said it best: “In looking for people to hire, you look for three qualities: integrity, intelligence and energy. And if they don’t have the first, the other two will kill you.”

Tailor Your Job Post

Set the standard from the start. In your job postings, clearly communicate your core values and the type of employee you’re looking for. Don’t be afraid to state specific attributes and attitudes that align with your values.
When you’re clear about who you are and your expectations up front, you’ll have a better chance of attracting people who lead with integrity in everything they do.

Spotting Lies

Résumés are a breeding ground for deceit. Because few employers check them for accuracy, there is nothing stopping some people from stretching the truth or making false claims. If you really want to know who is legit, pay attention to these résumé red flags.
Résumé Red Flags:
• Job hopping or large unemployment gaps
• Skills listed are inconsistent with past positions or education levels
• Discrepancies between one’s résumé and other forms of communication
• Stagnant career progress or regression
• Inconsistent employment dates
• Vague descriptions of responsibilities in past positions
According to a survey of more than 2,000 hiring managers by CareerBuilder, 56% of those in charge of hiring have caught job candidates lying on their résumés.

Interview Questions

There are endless questions you could ask in a face-to-face interview. But none are as valuable as those that target a person’s level of integrity. You can ask the prospect to describe a past ethical dilemma or about a mistake s/he made previously on the job that only s/he knew about and how s/he handled it. An easy question is, “Would you lie for me?”

Don’t Skip References

It’s important to always check references, and it’s surprising how often this step is skipped. At a minimum, you should be able to confirm dates of employment and if the person is eligible for rehire. If you have managers who hire directly, require them to make notes with names and the dates references were reached.

Angie Barnett is president and CEO of the Better Business Bureau of Greater Maryland. She can be reached at 410-347-3990 and abarnett@greatermd.bbb.org.