How to Avoid Ethical Issues in an Interview |

Being able to conduct ethical interviews is becoming a major topic across HR departments around the world. Not a week goes by where a story emerges of practices going to the wayside, and organisations finding themselves in a spot of bother because they failed to follow procedure.

As a result, the workforce is now significantly more aware of what isn't acceptable behaviour in the workplace, and this starts with your interview process.

Ethical conduct in interviewing isn't just important in helping your business recruit the best candidate; it is also a matter of legality. You want to maintain fairness, integrity and professionalism throughout your hiring process. 

Ensuring that candidates are treated respectfully and evaluated based on relevant criteria while also upholding the reputation the credibility of the organisation is paramount. 

There are specific criteria that it is illegal to base employment decisions on, and it could cost you and your company unnecessary time, money and negative press if you aren't clued up on how to implement ethics into your interviews and recruitment process.

By adhering to ethical principles and guidelines, organisations can foster trust, transparency, and accountability in their interactions with candidates, ultimately enhancing the overall candidate experience and reputation.

Understanding the significance of ethical conduct in interviews

Whilst it may seem completely obvious to some, being able to conduct ethical interviews is often overlooked in the recruitment process. Essentially, by conducting interviews with ethics in mind, you are securing not only top talent but also protecting your business from a potential range of legal issues further down the line. 

Ethical recruitment practices are essential for ensuring that all job candidates are treated with fairness and respect, regardless of their background. It promotes a level playing field and improves the company’s workplace culture to promote a positive image of the company within the industry.

Without question, ethical interviews also help to reduce the risk of legal damage and mitigate reputational risks by promoting a commitment to diversity and inclusion.

By focusing on the skills and abilities of the candidates rather than their demographic characteristics, ethical interviews help to build trust and credibility with candidates, employees, and stakeholders.

Integrity, professionalism and ethical leadership become cemented in the organisational culture and a resulting factor is that there is an increased value system, transparency and accountability across the business afterwards. A surefire way to improve not only the quality of the hire but also, retain the best talent. 

Key elements of ethical conduct in interviews

It all starts with the job role, selection criteria and even ensuring transparency throughout the whole process. Once you can establish these elements, everything becomes a lot easier.

Think about the software you are using to track a candidate’s application. What did the job role ask for? What criteria are you looking for/establishing before you even begin to interview candidates? These are things that need to be laid out before anyone is invited to interview.

If you want to succeed in creating the conditions of good ethical conduct in interviews, then you need to understand the key elements. These include confidentiality, respect and non-discrimination.

Being able to respect a candidate’s privacy and dignity whilst also maintaining confidentiality across their answers is essential. Equally important is that you avoid discriminatory practices based on protected characteristics such as race, gender, or age. This is usually done with unconscious bias and even in innocuous moments of subtle chit-chat. Remember, this is an interview and not a social experiment. 

One of the best ways to mitigate any potential issues is to establish clear policies and guidelines for ethical conduct in interviews. 

Firstly, this is essential for ensuring consistency throughout the whole process. Candidates A through F will be treated the same way and evaluated the same way.

Accountability is essential to provide clarity to all stakeholders in the interview process whilst compliance with legal and ethical standards makes sure that the interviewers know precisely what they can and can’t ask. This reduces the risk of ethical lapses or misconduct during the interview process.

Strategies for avoiding ethical issues in interviews

One of the best ways to ensure that you are interviewing your candidates with the best ethical practices is to put your hiring managers and HR teams through training which is up to date and helps to establish standardisation and oversight.

These training programs should take into consideration things like what is unconscious bias and conscious bias, what kinds of questioning lead to both outcomes and what types of ethical issues can be raised in an interview scenario. By acting out these areas, hiring managers can get a clearer picture of what is and isn’t suitable. 

Equally important is standardising interview processes, questions, and evaluation criteria which can also help minimise the risk of bias or discrimination, while providing oversight and accountability mechanisms that can ensure adherence to ethical guidelines and standards.

The other side to this conundrum is how you are then open to your candidates and the rest of the organisation. 

  • How do you promote transparency in the interview process? 
  • How do you communicate your results? 
  • How do you provide feedback to the candidate and the hiring manager? 

Using technology to subsequently build these processes is arguably the most effective way, but hiring managers and stakeholders throughout the organisation must know how to use it and when.

By taking these measures, you are providing candidates with the opportunity to see how they are progressing, ensuring they are being treated fairly and feel more informed and empowered throughout the whole process.

Upholding ethical standards in interviews

When you hold up high ethical standards in interviews you are not only protecting the candidate from being unfairly judged, you are promoting fairness, integrity and professionalism throughout the hiring process.

By addressing ethical issues and adhering to ethical principles and guidelines, organisations can enhance trust, credibility, and transparency in their interactions with candidates and stakeholders.

Equally by adhering to ethical principles and guidelines, organisations can foster trust, transparency, and accountability in their interactions with candidates. This fosters the overall candidate experience and reputation.

Finally, by prioritising ethical standards in the interview process, organisations and their stakeholders avoid legal liabilities and associated reputational risks and impacts on the candidate experience. This will also have the added benefit of creating a positive and inclusive environment whilst championing the organisation in its sector.