Employers ask integrity interview questions to judge your character and trustworthiness, and one of the most common questions is, “What does integrity mean to you?”
And if you don’t show the right moral and ethical principles in your answer, it could cost you the job.
Coming up, we’ll look at how to show integrity and strong moral principles in your interview, including sample interview answers.
What Integrity Means
Having integrity means being honest, acting morally, and having strong ethical principles.
You can demonstrate that you operate with integrity at work by talking about the following:
- Taking responsibility and owning up to a mistake
- Giving a team member credit for work they did, if someone mistakenly thought it was your work
- Being clear, honest, and upfront with customers/clients
- Giving a two-week notice when leaving a job, so that employers have time to adjust
- Returning money to your employer if they mistakenly overpaid you
Those are some examples of what the word integrity means, and what ethical behavior looks like in a corporate setting.
(Though I’m on the fence about the two-week notice “rule”. Some employers will not give you that same courtesy, and some may even tell you to leave immediately when you try to give a proper notice. So that’s a debate!)
Above, we looked at what integrity in the workplace entails.
However, you can also demonstrate integrity in your personal life.
If your strongest example of integrity happens to not be work related, then that can sometimes make a good interview answer as well. We’ll look at example answers of this coming up soon.
Essentially, you have integrity if you act honestly, present yourself transparently, and take responsibility in your life.
How to Answer Interview Questions About Integrity
When answering integrity interview questions, you want to show the interviewer that acting morally and honestly is second nature to you.
You want to sound like integrity is a part of your core values and isn’t even a debate for you!
So practice an answer so that you can respond without hesitation or doubt.
That’s how to convince an employer that you not only know how to define integrity but that it’s a part of your core values and habits.
If you do this, you’ll impress any employer who asks this interview question and show them that you can be trusted to be honest and act ethically on behalf of their company.
“What Does Integrity Mean to You?” Sample Interview Answers
Example Answer 1:
I think integrity means standing up for what’s right, acting morally and fairly, and being accountable and honest. For me, this begins with communication. I try to be clear, upfront, and direct. If I make a mistake that needs to be addressed, I own up to it and quickly move on to correcting it. If I see something that’s dishonest or otherwise not right, I speak up and communicate why this doesn’t seem fair on a moral level. This helps me feel good about my work and gives me a sense of self respect, which I enjoy.
Example Answer 2:
I think that integrity is about conducting ourselves fairly and honestly in our everyday lives. I think it’s about treating others fairly, speaking up when something isn’t right, and acting as if others are watching even if nobody is. In terms of work, I also think it’s about having respect for company policies and doing what’s best for the company, as long as those actions are ethical and honest.
Example Answer 3:
In my personal life, I think integrity means having moral principles, being honest and accountable, and acting in the interest of the entire community. I see a lot of people just chasing personal profit without thinking about how it impacts others, and I think that’s not the best thing for society in the big picture. So I try to make a difference and do the best that I can at any given moment.
And then in terms of integrity in the workplace, I think integrity means conducting myself honestly, showing respect, working with accountability, and bringing a strong work ethic each day.
You don’t have to mention integrity in your personal life if you don’t want to.
Some job seekers may find it easier to just talk about integrity at work… such as being honest with your team members, doing the right thing for your company, etc.
And that’s a great answer which will be enough to land that new position, so don’t feel pressure to dive into your personal life in your response.
But if you are someone who does have strong moral values and wants to share a bit about your approach to acting with honesty and integrity in life, then go ahead… just like example answer #3 above.
And if an interviewer specifically asks, “Why is working with integrity is important to you?” then you should focus your answer entirely on work.
It’s always best to address the interviewer’s questions head-on and be clear in responding to what they’ve asked for.
It’s Best to Be Honest When You Answer this Question
When answering interview questions, especially about integrity, I don’t recommend telling lies (even white lies).
The interviewer may ask for more details about anything you mention, whether it’s a story or belief/principle.
And lies lead to more lies, which also increase your nervousness in the interview.
So, like many interview questions, telling a lie here can have a negative impact and maybe cost you the job.
Plus, “What does integrity mean to you?” is such a broad, general question that practically every job seeker should be able to come up with a basic answer that doesn’t require lying.
In your interviews, you can mention any of the following examples of integrity in the workplace:
- Doing the right thing even when it will cost you personally, or create a difficult situation with someone you know
- Being a good role model for others
- Bringing honesty and fairness to your relationships
- Speaking the truth, even when it’s difficult
- Speaking out when you see something that’s unfair or wrong
- Bringing your best effort to work each day
- Not shying away from difficult tasks, and not only pursuing the easiest tasks you can find during the workday
- Treating each person on your team with respect, even if you disagree with certain views
- Doing the right thing for a customer or client if the company made a mistake or is in the wrong
Or, just refer to the examples, scenarios, and other info we covered earlier, which should be enough to show any hiring manager that you have strong ethical convictions.
More Integrity Interview Questions and Answers
Demonstrating integrity in your interview is a constant battle, and you shouldn’t just focus on showing traits like honesty and integrity when answering one particular question.
An employer may also be judging your moral character and integrity when they ask questions such as the following:
- What would you do if you saw a coworker stealing?
- Describe your work ethic.
- How do you handle conflict?
- Why did you leave your last job?
- Tell me about a time when you failed.
- How do you make decisions?
In all of the questions above, an employer may be looking for signs that you’d act with integrity in the workplace.
So keep your guard up and think about how you’re portraying your moral character and ethics with all interview questions.
Why Do Employers Care About Integrity in the Workplace?
Employers ALWAYS want to hire someone who is going to act with integrity.
It doesn’t matter how smart, experienced, or talented you are as a candidate. If a hiring manager doesn’t trust you to be accountable, honest, and fair, they will hire someone else.
They want to trust their employees to do the right thing and communicate honestly and openly.
They want to hire people who will cooperate and treat others well.
They want to be able to know that you’re doing honest, good work even if they’re not watching you constantly.
And that’s a good thing, in my experience. Nobody wants to be micromanaged, right? So if you show integrity, it will be appreciated by a hiring manager who runs a relaxed workplace and values giving their team freedom.
I believe it’s actually a good sign if an employer asks what integrity means to you.
It’s a chance to show you’re an honest, upfront person who can be trusted to perform well in the position.
They’ve got enough applicants that they can afford to be picky and careful, and protect the wellbeing of the team/company.
So don’t just convince an employer that you’ll achieve amazing results on their team. Convince them that you have strong moral principles as well.
Conclusion: How to Answer “What Does Integrity Mean to You?”
Companies want to hire people with strong moral and ethical convictions. They want team members who can be trusted to make important decisions, and who can grow into positive role models for others.
(Yes, even as they hire you into your first role in the company, many employers are thinking about if/how you could grow with them…)
So employers are likely to ask a question about what integrity means to you.
Think about your own values and some of the actions you take to be an ethical person, and respond in a way that shows employers you’ll be a positive addition to their workplace.
You can point to examples, too, if needed. Consider discussing how you acted with integrity in one of your recent jobs, in one of your professional relationships, or even in your personal life.
If you follow the tips above, you’ll impress the interviewer when describing what integrity means to you.