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What kinds of questions can I use to tell if job applicants will behave ethically once hired?


Nearly one-third of all employees rob their workplace, totalling $40 billion in losses annually, according to U.S. Department of Justice reports. Thievery, though, is only one of the many ways employees can behave unscrupulously.

While no interview question can magically reveal if prospective employees have an ethics deficit, you can get a sense of how likely they are to go to the dark side by asking what are known as situational questions. For example, ask them how they would behave in certain circumstances such as, "If you found out one of your co-workers was taking money, what would you do?" or "Tell me about an ethical dilemma you faced at work and how you handled it."

Most responses should quickly clue you in to applicants' moral makeup. Talented liars, however, may finesse these questions, but there's a way to detect that, too. Pay close attention to the speed of their speech, the pitch of their voice, and their level of eye contact. The more their speech diverts from their regular speaking speed, the more their vocal pitch changes from the norm, and the less they maintain eye contact with you, the greater the chances are that they're dissembling.

By using situational questions and then analyzing job seekers based on body-language cues, you'll be better equipped to find employees with integrity who you can count on to do the right thing.

Dan Lumpkin is an organizational psychologist and president of management-consulting company Lumpkin & Associates in Fairhope, AL. E-mail your career-related questions to askdan@exhibitormagazine.com
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