Ethical Interviewing: From the Other Side of the Table

By: Suzanne Ostrander


In corporate America, it seems like we are constantly hearing about how to ace an interview, from tips on what to wear to final resume edits.  We are taught the proper questions to ask, and the customary behaviors for following up.

What about the other side of the equation, though?  It’s not unreasonable to assume that many employees outside of the HR department will be involved in the interviewing process. Members of a job applicant’s potential department need to meet and have the opportunity to interact with a candidate, in order to make a well informed decision from the company’s standpoint.

So, where do we draw the line when it comes to how much we allow non-HR employees to get involved in the interviewing process?

It’s wise to remember that HR personnel have been trained on the ethics of holding interviews.  Not only is it immoral to make “false promises” to a job candidate, but it is extremely unprofessional. Unfortunately though, interviewers are giving exactly this type of false hope to applicants all of the time.  Perhaps it starts out innocently.  The interviewer may be completely convinced that a candidate has a position “in the bag” so he gives a verbal promise to the hopeful candidate.

What happens next?  Oops, the interviewer that made these promises didn’t realize that there was a new mandatory test or additional qualification that must be met. Suddenly, the same candidate does not appear to shine as brightly.  Or, it could be that the very last candidate blew everybody away in the interview and he gets the job instead.

If a non-HR employee becomes involved in the interviewing process, it is imperative for he or she to refrain from making a “job promise”.  It’s one thing to have a good feeling about a potential fit, but it should be left at that.

Another possible solution would be for companies to hold periodic recruitment training for all HR and non-HR employees involved in interviews.  It can take years to build a good company reputation, but just moments to destroy it.  If we aren’t careful, we could be sending the wrong message to the people who walk into our doors.

Aside from the ethical issue, I tend to cling to the “golden rule” when it comes to interviewing: Treat others the way you would like to be treated.

Let’s face it, we’ve all been on the other side of the table before.  At one point, even the biggest business executive, manager, or CEO was just a young intern or new college graduate applying for an entry level position.  It’s not just the young ones we should be kind to.  What about those looking for a career shift or the people between jobs doing everything they can to find a position to pay the bills?

Regardless of the reason for their job search, no candidate wants to be promised a job one day and then login to Linkedin the next day to read about the person who received the job.  Sure, you could probably get away with doing it, but just remember- at one time, that person was you.

Let’s try and remember to treat others as kindly and professionally as possible when it comes to holding interviews, as well as our interactions in everyday life.  If we are ever tempted to act otherwise, or if we forget, remember Galatians 6 verse 7: “Do not be deceived. God cannot be mocked. We reap what we sow”.

In other words, God sees everything, and he knows our hearts.  Even though good deeds come back to us, those who truly love the Lord treat others with kindness because it’s in their nature. Our love for God should be our motivation, not the reward.  What’s even better is that when we put God first and focus less on ourselves, God’s blessings seem to be even more abundant.

I hope you are blessed by this message and, as always, I urge you to encourage excellence in your everyday lives!

To read more about the ethics of interviewing, click the link below:


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