Recruiters, eh? You’ve mastered the interview basics – and then they give you something so far out of left field that it’s not even in the stadium.
Typically, these brainteasers revolve around ethics, integrity, values and are framed in two different, but equally devious, ways……
Scenario – based
Medics applying for junior doctor posts are used to ethical questions lurking in dark corners, but it’s now becoming commonplace for other roles. For instance? “You’re an intern helping on a big project with an important client. You’ve realised that one of your colleagues has made a mistake in their report, which effectively gives a better impression of the company to the client than is perhaps true. Your company really needs this contract and you know your manager will be very unhappy if the deal falls through. What do you do?” A ready response may not spring rapidly to the lips.
“Tell us about a time you showed yourself to be trustworthy/reliable/principled” etc. Do I feel a rabbit caught in headlights moment coming on? Again, if you are not prepared it would be easy to stumble over a question like this, particularly since the answer is not so obvious.
- TAKE YOUR TIME: Pausing to reflect is ok, as it shows you are thinking carefully and not just jumping to an answer.
- WHAT’S MY PRIORITY? Is your loyalty to the client, customer, patient? Or to the organisation, your colleagues, codes of practice, or even yourself? Medics have their Hippocratic Oath, but what about the rest of us? The next point should help you answer this…
- THINK ABOUT THE COMPANY ETHOS: Hopefully you will have done your research to know what is important to the organisation, so you can tailor your answer. For example, in the scenario above, although the company may need the contract, customer loyalty may be one of their key values; which could be jeopardised should the client find out that the report was wrong but you went ahead and let them sign the contract anyway. Presumably that client would never work with you again and tell others.
- THINK ABOUT WHY THEY ARE ASKING THIS: The reason these are ethical dilemmas is there is no one right answer. What the interviewer is doing is trying to get a sense of who you are as a person and seeing if this fits in with the ethos of the organisation.
- KNOW YOUR BOUNDARIES: These questions often revolve around how you deal with people. How do you report problems to your superiors, how do you deal with colleagues etc. You need to demonstrate that you know when to deal with an issue yourself and when to let others higher up handle it. And of course, at all times remaining professional.
- IT’S THE LAW: Of course, I hope there is no need to emphasise that you should NEVER admit to doing anything illegal in an interview. And any scenario question that whiffs of illegality should illicit a firm response from you.
- PROVING INTEGRITY: Forget that you were milk monitor at primary school. Respect. But really not relevant. Focus on recent circumstances where you adhered to confidentiality, handled sensitive situations, dealt with safeguarding , compliance, regulatory issues or simply stood up for a principle in which you believed. Were you in charge of a charity collection or the finances for a student society? Have you ever been asked to disclose information about a colleague that you felt was inappropriate to do so?
And the greatest indicator of your ethics and integrity? Remaining honest and authentic throughout your application and interview. In other words, be yourself and you can’t go too far wrong.