You're looking for three things, generally, in a person: intelligence, energy, and integrity. And if they don't have the last one, don't even bother with the first two.
Like Buffett asserts, integrity is a non-negotiable when it comes to hiring responsible workers with a clear conscience. It's what makes it hard to question a future employee's decisions and motives.
Hiring people with integrity also addresses the leadership void. A person who walks-the-walk of integrity eventually becomes a role model for others to follow. These are the type of leaders you want to promote to management roles. So how can you properly assess someone with integrity?
1 question you need to ask.
In an interview process, you need to ask the right questions that will get to the core of a person's character to properly assess their level of honesty and integrity.
This is crucial when looking for people that can fit with a company's culture, assuming that that culture is one of honesty and integrity itself. If integrity is a shared value that defines the way you operate and behave, you must look for the highest level of integrity in those whom you hire as well, even before you assess hard skills or technical expertise.
Here is that one crucial question that will be "make or break" for your job candidate:
If we ever got into a bind with a client, would you be willing to tell a little white lie to help us out?
That's what one high-level CEO routinely asks to test out his own job candidate's integrity. If a candidate answers with a 'yes,' or waffles through his answer undetermined, cut the interview short and wish that person a nice day.
The only right answer is a firm and resounding 'no' (and you'll want to follow up with "Tell me why?" to further validate his or her integrity) because anything else indicates a lesser degree of integrity from the high bar you should be setting for selecting future leaders. By passing on an "on the fence" job candidate today, you'll arrive at the one that truly aligns with your company's values tomorrow.
Hall of Fame football coach Tony Dungy, in his book Uncommon, said: "Integrity is the choice between what's convenient and what's right." People operating within parameters of truth, honesty, and moral authority will listen to their heart and do the right thing, even when nobody is watching. Their actions are open for everyone to see; they don't have to worry about hiding anything from anyone, nor do you have to worry about them hiding anything from you.