How Can You Tell If a Candidate is Reliable?

Reliability is underrated as a professional credential. Too often we look for candidates that can make a big impact, but if that impact is temporary or sporadic, it really doesn’t serve your interests. Part of the problem is that reliability is very difficult to evaluate until you actually see someone on the job for a week/month/year. It’s not impossible to evaluate, though, especially if you use the interview to your advantage. Use questions like these to get a deeper sense of a candidate’s reliability:

“What do you do when five o’clock arrives and your work is not done?”


Reliability is really about work ethic. Professionals with a strong work ethic will go the extra mile to ensure that deadlines and quotas are met. Professionals without a strong work ethic will eagerly head to the parking lot unworried about what is left to do. Look for someone that is willing, even eager, to stay late, or that has developed time management strategies to help her finish on time.

“Describe a time when you had a conflict with a co-worker.”


You’re looking for someone whom you can depend on to reflect your company culture, act maturely, and make a regular effort to collaborate and cooperate effectively. If the candidate describes a past conflict and blames the other party entirely, it should raise red flags. Ideally the candidate will take some responsibility and focus on how the conflict was successfully resolved.

“Tell me about a difficult decision you had to make professionally.”


Pressure is the true test of reliability. Some professionals are exceptional during stable times but completely fall apart when things get tough. Candidate’s who reply to this query by being honest about the pressure, then describing how they successfully worked through it are more likely to be reliable for you during crunch time.

“Have you ever had to follow instructions you didn’t agree with?”


There is a reason most companies are set up as hierarchies – a clear chain of command produces efficiency and productivity. At some point in time all professional will be asked to do something they don’t full agree with. You’re looking for a candidate you can rely on to follow instructions and keep his objections to himself.

“Have personal issues ever affected your work?”


Life throws us curve balls all the time. Reliable professionals are able to keep these personal problems separate from work and continue to perform at a high level even when things are tough at home. There are exceptions, of course, but the strongest professionals are able to keep these to a minimum.

As another tool to gauge reliability, consider sourcing candidates through a staffing firm. These firms have long-term experience with most of the professionals on their roster, and they can verify that these are employees you can depend on at anytime, in any situation. Start connecting with this reliable talent by contacting Selectek today.