Uncovering a Candidate’s Ethical Standards

April 3, 2015 | TalentBridge News

Ethical standards are critical to the success and reputation of any business, yet they can be extraordinarily difficult to identify or judge in job candidates. As you interview prospective new hires, it’s essential to find attributes and personality traits that align with your organizational mission, vision, values and ethics.

Go Beyond a Resume

On a candidate’s resume, search for information illustrating responsibility and accountability, such as community involvement and volunteering. These suggest that an individual is concerned about the welfare of others.

  • This is only the beginning. Verify resume information. Research shows that 20 to 44 percent of all resumes contain mistruths regarding work history, educational experience and other credentials.

Look for Honesty

The biggest challenge in conducting an interview that includes good discussion of workplace ethics is getting your candidate to provide honest, meaningful responses. There may be numerous acceptable answers to a single ethical dilemma, but people are naturally leery of answering questions in a way that may reveal any potential shortcomings.

  • Take a behavioral approach. If you ask someone if they’re ethical, of course they’ll say yes. Behavioral questions dig deeper, telling you that an individual was in a situation that they saw as ethics related and demonstrating their response.
  • Provide a task that focuses on ethics. Have your candidate complete an exercise that’s based on ethical choices. For instance, have them write down five things they’d change about the president of the United States that would make for a better nation. Or have them draw or outline what they think a corporate culture should look like. These tasks may seem rudimentary, but they will reveal how a person believes the world around them to be and how their values relate to those of your organization.

Questions to Ask

The following list of behavior-based interview questions have been successfully used by experts in recruiting top-notch talent with high ethical standards:

  • What do you believe compromises an ethical workplace? This is a good general lead-off question on the topic. You’re looking for responses such as “accountability, confidentiality” and “stability.” Then ask your candidate how they define these qualities.
  • Have you worked for an organization that had a code of conduct and what was your experience with it? This is another good opening question as it allows much leeway in a response.
  • How does being an ethical individual differ from being an ethical corporation? This is a tricky question because there is no difference.
  • Would you ever lie for your boss? An employee who won’t lie for you won’t lie to you.
  • Tell me about a time when you were challenged from an ethical standpoint. A candidate who says they’ve never faced an ethical dilemma should send up an immediate red flag. A good answer might be, “I was part of a proposal team and the marketing people inserted some language that overstated our achievements. I argued that we shouldn’t include the language but I lost and it was left as is. I signed myself off the project.”

As you seek to hire top talent with impeccable standards and integrity, consider partnering with the specialized recruiters at Talent Bridge. We have a proven track record in client solutions in accounting and financial services, engineering and design, HR, IT, and managerial, office and administrative staffing in the Charlotte market and beyond. Contact us today to learn more.