Everyone wants to hire for integrity, but most assume it at great cost.
First, a Warren Buffet quote from Inc:
We look for three things when we hire people. We look for intelligence, we look for initiative or energy, and we look for integrity. And if they don’t have the latter, the first two will kill you, because if you’re going to get someone without integrity, you want them lazy and dumb.
In 1997, when I first started to hire people in China, this logic seemed so clear to me, and I had never heard of this quote. No recruiters were doing this, so I started to develop a deep system and thinking to get those people.
Result is that I started my own company in 2009. We are now in our third decade.
Let’s break down what Warren said.
Intelligent- We would say you need talented people and often say smart is important. So we agree that you need intelligence.
Initiative or energy – This is interesting for me coming from Warren as he is in the US. I noticed when I got to China that China distinctly lacked initiative. So I have always focused on finding it as so useful and so hard to find.
Integrity – He is sharp as does not assume it. Integrity is pre-eminent. He notes what I have always felt. Smart people who lack integrity are too good at ripping you off. Logically if you do not know how to get integrity, then you should be hiring dumb people as you can catch them when they try to cheat you. See also Beware Hiring People You Like the Most.
If you have a management candidate who tells a story of his or her famous exploits that fit your need exactly, is that good news? Our answer is: “Unlikely”
We are recruiters. Why do we say “Unlikely”
Two reasons. 1:Perfect candidates do not really exist as no people are perfect. 2: 72% of candidates lie to get the job offer, and liars usually tell the most attractive story.
Good candidates exist. Excellent candidates exist. Perfect candidates actually do not if we think about it enough.
We are super happy when the candidate who appears excellent in every way proves to really be excellent in every way. It does not happen very often. At SHI Group, we always hope candidates will become more honest. Unfortunately, we sense they are simply getting more tricky.
Integrity Foremost Needs To Be Actualized
We all know it does not help to get a candidate who only says they are great. What you need is someone who really is who they say they are. Not only do they have all the experience and achievements they said, but also they have shown that they will tell the truth even when it is hard. Both are valuable to you. So, we totally agree about placing integrity foremost. We do not think that should be a motto. Further, we know it needs to be actualized through hard work. See Recruiting Agency in China 7 Ideas for Choosing
On a related point, Mary indicates she wants people who will take ownership. We could not agree more. SHI Group is a company who takes clear ownership of our placements as we kick out people we know you would not want instead of foisting them on our clients. We also look out for this in hires. Also, people who do not make excuses and take responsibility are in the same group of those that can be honest in the interview. They are about real things, and so they bring their whole selves to work. In some acidic companies they will gradually lose heart. Often they will be the first to self select off such teams unless they are in charge. If they are in charge, they take ownership of the problem and make ownership stronger all around.
Hire For Integrity For a Better Tomorrow
You can only afford to hire smart people if you have the insight and energy to do all the work to make sure that they have integrity.
Unfortunately, the illogical most often occurs. Companies work very hard to get excellent talent who are very smart but then have no heart, insight or knowledge to get to integrity and so just hope for integrity. It is exactly what you should not due. Warren is a great investor and many theories exist, but a focus on integrity has certainly been a big part of his success. Our company focuses on finding Trustworthy Talent®. You must explicitly have integrity to match the talent that you also need, and we do that for every placement.