Ethics questions in employment interviews

In some companies hiring interviews include a C&E component. A typical question of this sort is to ask the interviewee to describe a C&E challenge that she faced and how she addressed it.  Of  course, in doing this the questioner should make it clear that she is not asking for confidential information about any other company. Another approach is to present the interviewee with a hypothetical ethics quandary and to ask how she would deal with it.

This practice has several benefits:

– It helps the employer determine whether ethics is a strength or weakness for the candidate, which could impact the decision of whether to hire her.

– It sends a message to employment candidates that C&E is important to the company, which hopefully they will remember if they get the job.

– It sends a message within the company generally – and particularly to those who conduct interviews  – that C&E is important to the company. ,.

In my view this is a good practice. I also believe it should be a two-way street, meaning employees should also ask questions of their prospective employers.

This might be a question about the C&E program generally: Is it strong?  Is the tone at the top healthy?  Or, how does the workforce generally view C&E?

Another approach is to ask about risks of misconduct in the company’s industry.  Even where a company seems ethical, one might want to do extra due diligence if  the company’s competitors as well as others with whom they deal (customers, suppliers and others)  are routinely engaging in corrupt dealings.

Also, note that that the questions – whether posed by the candidate or employer – should vary by position, at least for higher-ups.  Certainly this would be true with interviews of board members, and maybe others near “the top.”

Finally,  there are many other topics the candidates might ask about but one should not be seen as conducting an investigation. A balance should be struck.




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