(Closed) Interview question – "Most unethical thing you've ever done"

posted 4 years ago in Career
Post # 31
Member
2968 posts
Sugar bee
  • Wedding: September 2015

Wait I just thought of something else!

At SILs bachelorette I told the bouncer that the pregnant bridesmaid with us had to go outside to ‘get some air’ so that we could skip the 30-45 minute line to get out on the patio. 

Post # 32
Member
2394 posts
Buzzing bee

MrsFiveOh:  I think this is the best answer so far. If they pressed though, I would probably say something along the lines of “I used sick time for a “mental health day.” I wasn’t sick per se, but was stressed from my work environment and needed a day away from the office.”

Work related, but something that pretty much everyone does at some point or another, and not something that’s looked upon tooo badly. 

Having said that – totally UNETHICAL of them to ask that question.

  • This reply was modified 4 years, 2 months ago by  Soon2bmrs1.
Post # 33
Member
49 posts
Newbee

I’m in HR. If said in a respectful way, you can ask why the question is relevant to the position being interviewed for. Of course, ethical behavior is relevant to most jobs but the question is better phrased as “what do ethics mean to you” or “describe your personal philosophy on ethics in the workplace.” I would have switched it around and not answerEd the question directly.

Post # 34
Member
514 posts
Busy bee

In these situations if they do not specifically say work related I always put a personal reference there as then it will not impact their opinion of you as a job candidate. So I would say ‘I broke my mothers favorite vase and blamed it on my brother’ or something legitimate but not too bad!

Post # 35
Member
3937 posts
Honey bee

MrsFiveOh:  Exactly this. This is not a question to be answered with personal anecdotes or even work example. I think its a downright inappropriate question honestly, and I wouldn’t dignify it with an actual response.

Post # 36
Hostess
9743 posts
Buzzing Beekeeper
  • Wedding: March 2014 - Chicago, IL

I use a cell phone that’s materials were obtained at the expense of other’s suffering. I have diamonds in my rings. I wear clothing that came out of Sri Lanka (that’s Victoria’s Secret). I’ve shopped on holidays (when the stores really should be closed so people can be with their families). I eat GMOs and at fast food chains…

I feel like all those everyday things are pretty unethical, but ‘murica. 

Post # 37
Member
49 posts
Newbee

everyone has done something that is unethical but the question really tells the interviewer nothing of value. Asking a behavioral based question like “describe your personal philosophy on ethics in the workplace” tells someone infinitely more than an example of one incident of unethical behavior. Etchics are subjective. If a manager in my company was asking this question we’d have a problem. 

Post # 38
Member
670 posts
Busy bee

It was directed by my supervisor, morally justified but unfortunately bound by indefinite confidentiality according to the standard confidentiality papers I signed when I left so I can’t elaborate and breaking that agreement with violate my business ethics. Marketing to children though I find is my biggest ethical dilemma though. Morally, its been fine since it was for produce and getting them active but ethically speaking it’s not the best. Then again, I think a lot of problems would be solved if we marketed physcial activity and fruits and vegetables to children the same way we did sugary cereals to kid’s in the 1990’s. 

Maybe they secretly do shady business and want to see how tied he is to ethics, jk. I was once asked if I drank in an interview and after I got the job I found out it was because the industry was more of an old boys club where you drink and network and they wanted to ensure I was ok in that situation. Perhaps they’re asking for a similar reason – just read your post about it being for firefighting. Although phrased wrong, it makes sense. I know people applying to be policemen who’ve gone through lie detector tests and been asked equally disturbing questions. I also know a firefighter that got dismissed for getting a speeding ticket so it’s not too far off. 

  • This reply was modified 4 years, 2 months ago by  clovesa2015.
Post # 39
Member
544 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: April 2017 - Not sure

HaaaveYouMetTed:  I would have said the same thing to be honest, if I were that baffled. Yes, it’s illegal, but I swear, most people out there have done it. What they are looking for is honest answer, and they want to check your integrity… It’s still a catch 22, and I find it blatantly rude and unfair… The best thing to do is to tell them something, not nothing, but not the worst thing you’ve ever done… What a tricky question… You poor DH! I actually Googled this question to see if it is legal!! 

Post # 40
Member
807 posts
Busy bee

HaaaveYouMetTed:  I’ve had that question asked of me plenty during my interviews for internship/fellowship–however that’s par for the course since I am a clinical psychologist and we have a lovely ethical code we follow. However, I had the question phrased a bit differently, more so of “tell me about an unethical situation you may have had, and how you dealt with it. In my answer I wrded it as a “potentially unethical” situation which I found myself in with a patient and discussed how I resolved it. I can see HR being somewhat similar to the psychology field, in which you deal with a lot of people and some personal issues. However, I have never been asked point blank of the most unethical thing I’VE ever done. If I were your Darling Husband I would have answered that question in terms of ethical challenges he faced on previous jobs vs something he has done personally. I’m asusming they want to see how you handle difficult situations vs knowing your deep dark secrets.

 

Post # 41
Member
9526 posts
Buzzing Beekeeper
  • Wedding: July 2016

MrsFiveOh:  I agree this is the best answer, but honestly that question alone would have me questioning whether I want to work for that company.  They’re trying to get you to either damn yourself, or skirt an interview question.  Unless the interview is for a job that includes a lot of word-play and skirting questions (in the which case it makes more sense) to me that just alludes to a hostile work environment.

 

Post # 42
Member
9526 posts
Buzzing Beekeeper
  • Wedding: July 2016

ADiamondInTheRough:  oh, yeah i can see how for a clinical psychologist that sort of question would make sense.

Post # 43
Member
894 posts
Busy bee

What on earth kind of question is that? I would flat out tell them that I think that question is inappropriate and unnecesary, even if it means I lose the job. This question basically says “Make yourself look bad”. Oh no.

Post # 44
Member
1229 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: August 2014

silkybutterbee:  Is that even unethical?! I would have just called it efficient.

Post # 45
Member
3221 posts
Sugar bee
  • Wedding: September 2016

HaaaveYouMetTed:  I mean “what is the most unethical thing you have ever done” is so broad, and it kind of brings up the question of “starting when?” And will they believe you if you say “I stole three gummy worms from the convenience store when I was five?”

How unethical is TOO unethical? What is not unethical enough (like, they will think you are not self aware and probably more unethical than someone very aware of themselves?)

What does any of that have to do with firefighting? Is anyone in the hiring panel someone you would have to trust with your life someday and will having this between you inhibit either of you?

I think a better question is, “describe a situation where you faced an ethical dilemma. Tell us how you dealt with it.” 

Or, “what do you see as being the most ethically challenging part of being a firefighter?”

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