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The ethical approach to job interviews

May 13, 2008

Just because the current job market is extra competitive today doesn’t mean those seeking employment should abandon ethics in their hunt, according to an article published last week at BusinessWeek. In fact, “Ethics Guy” and columnist, Bruce Weinstein Ph.D., argues that acting ethically before and during the all-important job interview can help to nab the desired job.

“You can lie on your resume, exaggerate your accomplishments, or mislead a prospective employer about what you can do well,” Weinstein writes. “Taking the low road may lead to a job offer — but at what cost? If you have become someone other than yourself, what does this say about your integrity? And what will happen to you, professionally as well as personally, if it comes to light that you lied to get the job?

Weinstein offered five guidelines job seekers can use to ace their next interview by taking the high road:

1. Focus on What You Will Bring to the Company. An employee should be concerned, first and foremost, with helping the company, not the other way around.
2. Be Honest. Few of us are good liars, which is a good thing. If an interviewer asks you something to which you don’t know the answer, it’s better to admit it than to pretend otherwise. Also, misrepresenting yourself on your resume is a big mistake, not just because you might get caught, but also because it’s wrong.
3. When in Doubt, Don’t. The most fundamental ethical principle of all, Do No Harm, applies to how you treat yourself as well as others. Resist the impulse to say something that would make you look foolish, incompetent, or naïve.
4. Don’t Badmouth Your Previous Employer. Not only might your interviewer know your previous boss or colleague, but also doing so makes you look petty.
5. Look Within. Before you even apply for a job, do some soul-searching and find out what it is you’re really looking for. Honesty applies not just to how you deal with your prospective employer; it also applies to how you deal with yourself. — Compiled by Alison Stateman for Tactics and The Strategist Online


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