Character; Can You Assess It Pre-Hiring?

Character is a slippery concept and difficult to define, but as a distinguished Supreme Court justice once said in a different context, we think we know it when we see it.

But the question is, can we see it when it matters, such as before we make a commitment to engage an employee or volunteer for our organization?

If, as I believe, character is a very deep and subtle trait that only manifests itself clearly when a person is under some great stress or serious temptation to violate norms, it would seem to be very difficult to assess it during routine pre-employment evaluations.  Nevertheless, it also seems that it would be very helpful to be able to do so, if it can be done economically.

So, my question to you is are you aware of any valid and reliable tools for character assessment?  How do you assess good character with questions in an interview? What do you watch for with body language?

Hoping it helps, I supply below a dictionary definition of character (if we can’t define it, we certainly can’t measure it!)
character n
4. Moral or ethical strength; integrity; fortitude.
The American Heritage Dictionary, Second College Edition, 1985.

I think you’re looking for someone who won’t steal from, cheat, or lie to you, his employer, will do the right thing and will be loyal to the mission/business.

Thank you for contributing.  We will all be the richer for your sharing.

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