Thursday, October 19th, 2017

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Conducting an Ethical Job Search


  • Both interviewers and interviewees have obligations.
  • Honesty and good manners are as important as a strong resume.

What’s the first thing you think about when you see the words ethics and job search used together? If you’re like most people, your mind immediately jumps to unethical hiring practices such as illegal interview questions, or possibly even discrimination on the part of the employer.

Now turn the tables. During your job search, do you have any responsibilities? Of course getting a job is your end goal, but throughout the process are ethical obligations you should be concerned with. Consider the following:

Practice/Mock Interviews

Do you set up a couple of practice interviews with companies you know you wouldn’t work for? What a great way to learn the ropes, right? Wrong.

The average reported cost per hire is $6,207, according to the National Association of Colleges and Employers in its 2000 Benchmark Employer Survey. A large part of these costs can be attributed to the amount of time recruiters spend with candidates. If you have no intention of working for a given company, it’s unfair to drive up its hiring costs by wasting a recruiter’s time.

So how do you get that necessary practice? Most college career centers provide opportunities to do practice/mock interviews with their staff. Some schools even videotape these sessions so you can see and hear where you need improvement right away. In fact, some schools recruit employers on campus for a day or week of mock interviews. Check out what’s available at your school. Additionally, you can practice online at Monster.com’s Interview Center.

Keep All of Your Scheduled Interviews

Why is this so important?

  • If the interview is on campus, your empty slot likely took a time slot from another student who really does want to meet with the company.
  • Last-minute schedule changes, especially no-shows, can hurt college-employer relations, jeopardizing further campus-recruiting trips for future students.
  • Most obviously, this reflects poorly upon you. This is your time to make lasting good impressions, not ones that say, "This person is unreliable."

For whatever reason, if you cannot make your interview, be sure you have the phone number of your career center, the recruiter or the interviewer, and call as soon as possible.

Always Be Honest

Is all the information on your resume verifiable? Now more than ever before, employers are checking candidates’ credentials. Yes, they can request to look at your transcripts, and they can and will contact references. Lying at any stage during the job-search process is grounds for elimination, whether it’s a fabrication on your resume or fibbing your way through a tough interview. Don’t leave yourself open to the possibility of elimination.

Once You Accept, Stop Interviewing

When you accept an offer of employment, there is an understanding between the employer and you. The company will not continue to recruit other candidates, and you will not continue to explore other job prospects. If you are unsure of whether this offer, or this company, is the correct choice for you, focus on finding information that will help you decide. Career counselors can be a big help at this point, since they are trained to help people work through such life-changing decisions.

Don’t Want the Job? Withdraw as Soon as Possible.

  • Remember that another candidate may be anxiously awaiting the opportunity you are ready to forgo.
  • As mentioned above, the amount of time companies spend unnecessarily on your file is quite costly. Companies do take notice of this, and they do remember. If it’s not a good fit, step down. Maintain a level of professionalism as you withdraw, and never burn bridges. Even if you do not want to work for a company, it may be your supplier, customer or partner in a project later on.

Integrity is one of the top hard-to-define qualities employers seek in employees. By simply adhering to these ethical principles in your job search, you will demonstrate that you do possess it.

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