Although there is no simple or conclusive way of determining whether someone you are interviewing is an ethical person, one question I always ask an applicant is, “Can you tell me a detailed story about something you did in the workplace that will help me understand your ethics?”
If the applicant struggles to come up with a story, it’s not a deal killer, but it will give me pause. Over the years I have found that unless it’s true, it is quite difficult for someone to provide a detailed story about ethics on the spot. Most applicants will think that you’ll try to validate their story and will be hesitant to lie, so you’ll find that some people will give you some vague generalizations. On the other hand, some applicants will respond with a very detailed story about how they sacrificed their income, an opportunity, etc. in order to stay true to their values. I realize there will always be some people who can fool us, but if you hear a detailed story about personal ethics, you more than likely have a candidate in front of you who shares your values.
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