What is an integrity interview?
Here’s a breakdown of what an integrity interview is and what type of questions you can expect
Your colleague comes to work smelling like alcohol. What would you do?
This is just one of many questions you’ll encounter during an integrity interview.
In fire, EMS and police departments, the integrity interview is important in determining if a solid candidate is also a candidate with integrity. The level of trust – both within the departments’ responders serve and the communities they protect – cannot and should not be broken under any circumstance.
Responders are often in people’s homes and businesses without fear for their personal safety or their prized possessions. And even though integrity is a difficult characteristic to measure, it’s one of the most important attributes of a first responder.
Here’s a breakdown of what an integrity interview is and what type of oral board questions you can expect.
The definition of integrity, according to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, is the quality of being honest and having strong moral principles.
More often than not, your ability to correctly define integrity and its importance in the fire, EMS and police service will be your first hurdle. A popular phrase in the Air Force is – do the right thing … even if no one is watching.
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce found that:
- Dishonesty by employees cost a business 12 percent of its gross sales.
- Thirty-three percent of employees admit to stealing product or money from their jobs in the last three years.
- Roughly 40 percent of applicants have false information on their applications.
As a firefighter, EMS provider or police officer, you are held at a higher standard and someone is always watching. FireRescue1 columnist Linda Willing said it best in her column about why the media singles out wrongdoing by responders.
“Do the right thing because it is right, but also do the right thing because your job, supported by the currency of public trust, depends on it,” Willing wrote.
An integrity interview, according to Lowers Risk Group, a risk management consulting firm, can last anywhere from 45 minutes to an hour. The interview will help department leaders make an objective assessment of a candidate’s trustworthiness.
When asked a question, remember to:
- Take a moment before answering.
- Provide a thorough answer.
- Be positive.
- Explain how your behavior is in line with an organization’s goals.
Examples of integrity interview questions
Here are some integrity-based questions you’ll likely experience during your oral board for an entry-level position:
- Honesty and integrity, define them and why are they important in public safety?
- Discuss a time when your integrity was challenged. How did you handle it?
- What would you do if a colleague asked you do something unethical?
- If you saw a colleague doing something dishonest, would you tell your supervisor? What would you say?
Here are some integrity-based questions you’ll likely experience during your oral board for a promotion position:
- Your battalion chief asks you to come in his office to review your final evaluation of probation and you notice a smell of alcohol on his breath. How would you reply?
- You’re on scene of a multiple vehicle accident and your battalion chief finds a large of money rolled up in one of the vehicles. You see her take the money, put it into her pocket and walk away from the scene. What would you do?
- A fire chief and a police officer are fighting on scene. The chief is pushing the officer and yelling profanities at him. What would you do in this situation in order to eliminate the conflict?
- An irate citizen is yelling at firefighters for not working fast enough on the scene of a house fire. Do you have any specific tactics you use to diffuse a situation like this?
As with any interview, remember to prepare ahead of time and practice answering possible questions. If you need to, take a breath, a sip of water or pause to calm your nerves. You’ve got this.