Ethics 'R Us Corp.
The other day I was meeting with the senior manager and he told me that one of his biggest problems is poor Ethics in his employees.
He said he felt that Ethics was impossible to screen for in applicants, because A) every candidate will say he or she is very ethical, and B) people solicit references and Linkedin endorsements from friends they agree to recommend back (making the endorsements questionable).
In my book, “The Project Management Answer Book,” I give some tips for screening for ethics in my Chapter 9: “Ethical Considerations PMs Face On The Job.” Here are a couple of sample interview questions I suggest in my book to help you interview for ethics in your next hire.
And when you ask these questions, be ready to “drill-down” to really see where a candidate is coming from. (You will find that candidates are NOT USED TO BEING ASKED ABOUT ETHICS, and you’ll be surprised how candid the responses may be!)
Sample Interview Question #1: “How would you define Business Ethics?” (If they say something clever like, “It’s what you say you’ll do, not what you’ll really do,” you will have gotten a very useful answer!)
Sample Interview Question #2: “What was an ethical issue you faced on a project, and how did you handle it? Did it go the way you wanted? Why or why not? What might you do differently next time in a similar situation?”
Sample Interview Question #3: “Have you ever had an experience with your company’s Board of Ethics?” What was your role in the issue? What did you think of the outcome? Did you think it was the right decision?”
ALSO, A COMMON PITFALL: There is a very common error managers make when screening applicants. You may say, “Duh!” when you hear it. But how many times have YOU asked for references from an applicant, but then under time-constraints, failed to actually call up the reference and talk to them about the candidate? (It’s ALWAYS worth it to check references thoroughly).
NOTE: PMI (Project Management Institute) considers Ethics critical to project success, and has recently beefed up the PMP Exam (August 31, 2011), primarily in the area of Ethics and Professional Responsibility.
NOTE: I wrote an article on the Ethics-based changes to the PMP Exam at the request of Ivan Lee, editor of PM HUB, which a lot of people have read and shared via various social media. For a free link to my article, go to: “Big Change Coming To The PMP Exam.”
~This blog is by Jeff Furman, PMP Project Management Instructor and Presentation Skills Certification Trainer based in the NYC area. He is also the author of “The Project Management Answer Book,” published by Management Concepts (2011, Vienna, VA).