The Ethics in Job Hunting: Showcasing Your Trustworthiness Throughout the Interview Process

Man interviews

The best opportunity anyone has for demonstrating their ethics during an interview is consistently fulfilling the rubric that there is no right way to do the wrong thing. From building your resume, to filling out applications, to taking personality or leadership tests, the foundation of demonstrating truthfulness is living it. This may seem too simple, but in what has become a particularly toxic moral era, there is a great advantage in showing honesty through word and deed.

If I were to ask you what the most important human virtue is, what would you say? In my experience, about 91 percent of us say it’s love.

That’s a good answer.

Try this idea. I believe trustworthiness is actually the primary human virtue because trust is the foundation upon which all other human virtues rely. Think about it: without trustworthiness, true love is impossible. Without trustworthiness, compassion, empathy, and forgiveness are impossible. Without trustworthiness, selflessness doesn’t exist. Without trustworthiness, kindness, patience, humility, perseverance, and diligence don’t exist. There is a useful quote on an interfaith website about this:

“Truthfulness and trustworthiness involve much more than not telling lies; they embody the overarching capacity to discern, value, and uphold truth itself. Without these spiritual qualities, neither individual nor social progress is possible. Justice is vital to the establishment of unity and harmony at all levels of society, as it provides the standard by which individual conduct and collective effort are judged. A requirement for living a life of service to humanity, then, is constant effort to develop truthfulness and trustworthiness, ensuring that they are ever-present in thought and action.”

The objective of all job interviews is to demonstrate competence, capacity, honesty, and professional attractiveness that demonstrates you are the most employable candidate- often among many.

During such a process, it becomes far too easy to embellish upon your talents, utilize marketing “puffery” to gold-leaf actual experience, and become someone you are not to be hired.

The most important thing to remember when applying for a job or attending an interview is, to be honest. Honesty will prove to an employer that you are trustworthy. An interviewee who appears arrogant, or seems to be lying, will appear untrustworthy, and this significantly lowers their chances of employment. Instead, confidently and honestly detail your experiences, training, or perseverance, and make yourself an attractive and highly employable candidate.

By the way, if the above traits of hedonism, narcissism, or dishonest self-centered interest are what the company is looking for, avoid it like the plague. If an organization looks for this in its employees, this is a company that also eats its young.

Here are some specific tips that are among the most useful in demonstrating your honesty:

  1. Interview questions are not the only way in which your trustworthiness is being assessed by potential employers. Don’t lie or embellish your CV to make yourself stand out from the crowd. Employers can and do easily fact-check this information. You must always ensure you say who you are rather than saying who you are not.
  2. When asked for references, make sure you have picked those who represent you the best. Also, connect with each one prior to any interview, so they have a heads-up about the position and why you chose them as the reference. You’ll need their permission anyway.
  3. Demonstrate your moral center with every response to the interview questions
  4. While it may be difficult to underscore your virtues (the moral engines of our best actions) during an interview, you can easily relate your past experience or work strengths in practical ways and virtuous language. Here are a few examples:

Practical attributes, underlying virtues. problem-solving skills, intelligence, wisdom, getting the job done, determination and perseverance, quick thinking, intuitive and logical, accountable, reliable, responsible and trustworthy, team player, empathetic, compassionate and non-judgmental, leadership skills, empowering, supportive, and self-aware.

Here are a few of the more common interview questions that invite an opportunity to focus on your upstanding ethics. Prepare your answers with an eye on showing the alignment of your words and your actions. Be honest!

Tell Me About Yourself? Choose to demonstrate what kind of person you are. What you are passionate about. When did you feel best about yourself and something you accomplished, personally and professionally.

When and how did you overcome conflict in the workplace? Be honest. This question is often more about work pressures and differing perspectives than peace negotiations. Explain a situation where you had to take steps to resolve an issue and focus on the skills and virtues you utilized to resolve it. Conflict resolution requires patience, empathy, resolve, and a willingness to work with others.

What are your weaknesses? Admitting some shortfalls is a demonstration of honesty. No one is perfect. Demonstrate self-awareness with this answer. Reveal the weakness and provide an example of how you overcame it. We are works in progress, so admit to what others already know- you’re making progress. We all are.

Why are you leaving your current job?  Look at this as an opportunity to avoid any complaints. Focus on your motivations for this new organization and position. Again, demonstrate your virtues in being forward-thinking, driven to excel, flexible, and motivated for new challenges. If you’ve been laid off or fired, admit it and highlight what you’ve learned and the positive changes that resulted.

Trustworthiness is as trustworthiness does. As was stated earlier, there is no right way to do the wrong thing. This is especially true when the measure of our potential to fit into a new organizational culture or new position may be how we demonstrate the consistency of our words and actions