Recruiter: So, as part of this position, you’ll be required to lie, steal, and cheat. Are you comfortable completing those tasks?
It’s unlikely that a recruiter will directly ask you in an interview whether you feel comfortable doing something unethical at work. Most people (we hope) would turn down a job that explicitly lists cheating, stealing, and lying in the job description. However, employees are often faced with situations at work that may test their ethical and moral beliefs. How do you handle that kind of situation?
Here’s an example: You’re tasked with advertising an upcoming company event. When coming up with the language to use for the event description, your boss encourages you to embellish and fabricate the details based on the description of a similar event held by a competitor. You know that this new description of your event is not accurate, and that it will give unreal expectations to ticket purchasers. What do you do?
If this is a first-time occurrence, you might ask your supervisor for a private meeting where you can discuss your feelings of discomfort with the situation. If this is a recurring theme in your workplace, it may be time to look for a new job. Having a steady position and a solid paycheck is important, but what cost will you end up paying if your job regularly requires you to compromise your ethical standards?
It’s not rocket science…organizations produce better-quality work when employees feel comfortable, supported, and able to communicate openly. Highly competitive and cutthroat work environments can sometimes drive employees to unethical measures in order to maintain their position, or to get ahead.
When searching for jobs/internships, do your best to research the company culture. Is this a place where people enjoy working? Are there multiple reviews mentioning shady or questionable practices? Though this information is not always readily available, it’s worth your time to see what’s out there. At the very least, be sure to ask about the culture during an interview- it may just be the most important question you ask!