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Uncover a Candidate’s Ethical Standards from an Interview

March 23rd, 2012

What are the ethical standards of your potential job candidate? If you do not know, it could be putting your business on the line. While every organization needs to know this before they choose a candidate, not all professionals interview for this information. The right interview questions and design will produce the information required.

Top Questions to Ask

Depending on your need for information, you may or may not ask the questions below. However, this information will most definitely help you to gauge who the person across the table really is.

  • Do you believe it is okay to compromise ethics in the workplace? What do you believe would compromise an ethical workplace?
  • Would you every lie for a superior if asked to do so?
  • Have you ever worked with a company that had a code of conduct? If so, did you follow it, did you believe in it, and what were your positive or negative experiences with it?
  • What if your personal ethics are different from the company’s ethics?
  • When have you ever been part of a situation in which something unethical occurred? How did you handle that situation? (This happens to everyone. Encourage them to open up about it.)
  • Are there any ethics or values you have that are different from other cultures? What happens when your ethics are different from those of a co-worker?
  • Did you have a look at the company’s policies and ethics? What do you think of them?
  • Do you have any training in ethics for business?

It can be hard to get a candidate to open up about his or her experiences in this area. Ethics are often a personal matter. What you do behind closed doors is not something you may be willing to share with others. Encourage the candidate by instructing them to answer from a business point of view. How did they or would they react in the workplace when ethics became an issue.

In addition, do not show your cards. Be sure the interviewee understands that there is not a wrong answer here. You want to learn more about them than just if they have responded to an ethical situation. You want to know what they did, why they did it and if they will do it again. For example, everyone experiences times when the boss lies for them (“Tell them I’m not in my office today.”) That is not the question you need to answer. You need to know what level they will lie at and what they will not.

Ethical standards remain very important within the work environment and yet many hiring managers do not take the time to ask the important questions about ethics as a whole. This should be one part of your interview not to skip. Just asking a few of the above listed questions can provide you with the information you truly need to know to make an informed decision about the candidate.


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