Uncovering Ethical Standards in Interviews

You can’t run a successful company without ethical employees. However, getting job candidates to talk openly during an interview about their personal ethics and moral dilemmas can be tricky. Few people are comfortable with an honest or revealing discussion about ethics—and if they aren’t ethical, of course, they’re likely to lie about it.

Best approaches during the interview

While most candidates will try to give good answers to ethical questions, the challenge is getting not only honest, but meaningful responses. The questions you pose may have several acceptable answers, but candidates will often choose the response that leads away from any ethical difficulties they’ve had in the past.

blogphoto-11In general, a behavioral interview approach works best when it comes to ethics. Instead of focusing on the candidate’s own ethical experiences, you should ask questions that point to general standards, industry issues, and social norms.

What to ask

Here are a few interview questions that will help you uncover a candidate’s ethics:

  • What do you think an ethical workplace is like? This broad question makes a good jumping off point to a further discussion about ethics.
  • Have you taken any training or courses in business ethics? This is a great one for recent college grads or candidates who have worked at large corporations, which sometimes have ethics training courses. Find out what the candidate remembers from the courses or training and see whether the material was absorbed.
  • Would you ever lie for your boss? The answer here, is no—because if you have an employee who’s willing to lie for you, they are also willing to lie TO you.
  • Explain a situation when you had an ethical dilemma. Everyone has faced an ethical challenge, if they won’t share it, the candidate might not be able to be trusted. The answer that you’re looking for here, is that the candidate chose the ethical side, even if it ended poorly.
  • Have you read the ethics section on our website? If you have such material this will allow you to ask the candidate about values that made an impression on them, and why. Another big plus is that you get to find out whether she considered your company important enough to research.
  • If ethical issues arose at work, who did you talk to resolve the issue? A strong candidate will have taken action about an issue that they felt was important to them, they may have discussing the issue with a manager or coworker, or possibly sought out other company resources, such as HR for help in the matter.

While it may take a bit of extra effort to reveal a candidate’s true ethical standards, the process is worth instituting for your standard interview practices. Hiring ethical employees can only improve the corporate culture at your company. For more great tips on interviewing prospective candidates contact PsychPros.

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