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Jack London: Hires for Character Key to Ethical Cultures in Organizations

Jack London: Hires for Character Key to Ethical Cultures in Organizations - top government contractors - best government contracting event

Jack-London(Jack London, recipient of the 2015 Wash100, is executive chairman of the board at CACI International)

People are always the foundation of success for any organization. Therefore, recruiting and keeping top talent is one of the biggest challenges any leader has in maintaining the success and growth of their organization. How you define what your organization considers the “best of the best” in new hire candidates will influence your recruiting decisions, and ultimately the quality of the team you develop. Organizations that make character and ethics an integral aspect of their candidate review process will benefit by growing a team that will help them champion an organizational culture founded on ethical behavior.

I believe there are a few key elements to look for when hiring for character:

Identifying the Right Attitude

How a candidate describes themselves and their past accomplishments, both in writing and in personal interviews, can be extremely revealing. What particularly comes through is the candidate’s attitude, which is a strong indicator for suitability in the hiring process. Simply put, attitude illuminates a candidate’s character traits, reveals character strengths and weaknesses, and can set one applicant apart from dozens of others. Even a slightly poor demeanor can rightfully reveal a red flag. So listen for words that align with your company’s vision and corporate culture. Pay attention to what has motivated and sustained them. While actions do speak louder than words, words are the first representation of an individual’s own values.

Defining Integrity

Loyalty, respect and trust all contribute to a person’s integrity, and are essential to team building and creating a culture of character. Integrity can be a difficult attribute to assess, but there are ways beyond background checks and screenings. Gauging a person’s integrity during the hiring process starts with listening to past experiences. Which path did they choose in the face of adversity? Think about your corporate culture and actions that are influenced by employee interactions and challenging scenarios. Ask the candidate how they would act if faced with an ethical dilemma that could occur in your organization. Every organization strives to deliver quality performance, practice ethical decision-making, exhibit courtesy for others, and practice accountability. That starts with candidates of good character.

Evaluating Commitment

Bringing enthusiasm, positivity, initiative and sustained effort to the workplace every day shows one’s overall commitment to the challenges and demands of the job. Developing new skills, identifying opportunities, and improving operations all stem from an underlying commitment to the profession and the organization. Commitment is further demonstrated by turning challenges and mistakes into opportunities for doing the right thing and for growing. Ensuring good organizational character and culture depends on candidates with such sustained focus and follow through.

Gauging Expertise

Many may think a candidate’s expertise is the first, and most important piece to evaluate. However, in my opinion, this is the last piece of criteria. Even the most impressive technical knowledge and skill sets cannot make up for a poor attitude or being unreliable and noncommittal. The ideal candidates will have more than a particular domain expertise. They should offer a complete package and potential for making a worthwhile contribution to the organization. If a candidate can only offer part of the equation, they won’t be a good fit for the organization, and may even set the organization back.

The Character Factor

The character of each individual contributes to the overall character of an organization. A corporate culture is not just something that is decreed by the leadership. It must be something that is bought into and actively supported by each and every member of an organization. I have had tremendous success by assessing candidates based on their attitude, integrity, commitment and expertise. Its just more proof that character is the ultimate success factor.

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Written by David Smith

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