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When interviewing a healthcare job candidate, one of the things you want to know about the person is her character: Can she be trusted to do the right thing?

The ethical standards of employees are crucial to the running of any company, not only in dealing with patients, but with each other as well.

The problem is how you go about discovering what a person’s ethical standards are. This is an area where it is difficult to discern the truth, since candidates will be reluctant to expose their ethical shortcomings.

Because of this problem, human resource experts say that a behavioral approach is best in this situation. In other words, you ask the person about a time when she confronted an ethical problem in her job and how she handled it. Or you can give her a hypothetical situation that revolves around an ethical dilemma and ask the candidate to tell you how she would handle it.

If the person says that she has never confronted an ethical problem, a red flag should go up: She is not being honest. At some point, every professional will face an ethical situation and should have an example to share with you.

Several other questions that might help in uncovering a person’s ethics include:

  1. Asking the person her definition of an ethical workplace and what things undermine an ethical organization. How does the person define accountability?
  1. Has the candidate ever worked at a facility that had a code of conduct, and what was it like for her to work there?
  1. Has the candidate ever taken any courses in healthcare/treatment ethics or had any type of training in that area, and what does she remember about it?
  1. Asking the candidate if she would ever lie for her supervisor or another executive. If the candidate says yes, look out. If a person will lie for you, it’s very possible she will lie to you as well.
  1. When the candidate did face ethical issues at work, whom did she go to for help or advice? The best response to this question would be that the person talked with a co-worker, supervisor or mentor about the problem.
  1. Did the candidate look for information regarding ethics on the facility’s website? This will tell you whether the candidate thinks ethics is important enough to research on the organization’s website.

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