Integrity. Perhaps just an empty word in the selfish and ego-centered 21st century. Or at least that’s the impression one easily gets while trying to navigate their way in the maze of the corporate world. 95% of corporate employees do not look left or right while trying to climb up the hierarchy of the organization, or secure themselves a better salary. Yet integrity and professionalism have not died completely. An while the people who possess these attributes typically do not climb the corporate ladder as quickly as those who lack any boundaries do, in the long run they are the winners, and the people who can actually achieve the real leadership roles in any organization. And they also sleep better at night :).

But what do the hiring mangers want to hear when asking you the question? Well, in an ideal case, you should come up with an easy-to imagine and believe example of a situation when you showed integrity, or when it was tested heavily and you resisted the temptation. Needless to say, if you’re still young and new to your job field, or work in certain industries, it may be hard (or impossible) to come up with such an example. Nothing bad about admitting it, as long as you explain why you do not have such an experience, and ensure them that you put a lot of value on integrity and professionalism.

Let’s have a look at some sample answers to this interesting question now. I tried to come up with a nice variety, for various jobs, stages of professional career, and interview scenarios. Hopefully at least one of these answers will resonate with you, and help you to find your unique words for the upcoming interviews. Enjoy!


7 sample answers to “Tell me about a time when you showed integrity and professionalism.”

  1. In my last managerial job I made a big mistake, and I knew that it could cost me the job. Nobody knew about this mistake, however, and if I wanted to, I could have tried to hide it, or at least to pretend it wasn’t me who was responsible. But I decided against it. Instead of looking for excuses, I went right ahead to my superior and told them what exactly happened and accepted the responsibility. I believe it is a good demonstration of my integrity as an employee. What’s more, my superior appreciated the honesty and it eventually didn’t cost me the job, but I lost it later anyway due to downsizing in the company and that’s the main reason why I am here today.
  2. I think I have shown it repeatedly in my present job in customer service. Sure, sometimes the workload is heavy, you do not feel like answering calls, or you prefer to look for quick solutions to minimize the time on the phone. But regardless how I feel on any given day, and how heavy the workload is, I always stay professional and try my very best with every customer on the phone. People can appreciate such an attitude, and it is the reason why I have scored such good feedback from the questionnaires that the company sends to the customers.
  3. This is my first job application, and hence I have not yet had a chance to demonstrate my integrity and professionalism in the workplace. But I want to assure you that I am a man of firm values, and that I am ready to stand any test of my integrity in the workplace. Even back at school I was that guy who rather failed an exam than cheated. And I want to stick to the same attitude in my new job with you.
  4. My professionalism was mostly tested in my athletic career at school. I was in the track and field team, and I wasn’t the most talented runner out there. But I never missed a training, and I skipped all parties and similar stuff to keep my regimen and to be always 100% ready for the competition. I definitely hope to bring this attitude to my first corporate job. People can rely on me trying my best every day. That’s something I can promise you, even though I do not have on my resume anything that would demonstrate it…
  5. As an R&D employee I always faced temptations, and tests of my integrity. Working on interesting research projects, I got several times an offer to sell the results of my work, or just a piece of information that would make the job of other researchers easier, researchers working for our competitors. But I have never leaked anything, even though I have to admit that some anonymous offers I got were rather generous. But I preferred keeping my conscience clear to becoming a millionaire…
  6. I do not have such an example, since in the jobs I have had up to this point my integrity was rarely tested. You know, simple jobs in sales and hospitality field. You have your tasks, you repeat them every day, and there isn’t really anything special you can do or achieve. Maybe in my marriage it was tested once or twice, but I am still happily married which proves that I didn’t fall for the trap and maintained my integrity.
  7. I can tell you a good example from my ordinary life. Just two weeks ago, I found in front of a bar a wallet with ID, driving license, credit card and about $300 in cash. Apparently somebody dropped it there. What I did was that I went to the police station and left there the wallet, with everything that was inside–including the money. I could have easily taken the money and nobody would have found out. Or I could have even just take the money and drop the wallet where I found it, letting it for someone else to discover it and do what they pleased with it. But my conscience would not allow me to do such thing, and perhaps it shows that I am a person of integrity.

So that’s it! I hope you know now how to deal with this tricky interview question. If you’re still not sure, I recommend you to check our article on most common integrity interview questions. Thank you, and good luck in the interviews!


Matthew Chulaw
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