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Employers demand ethically sound job applicants

Updated: 01 Mar 2014

Employers in Hong Kong now view a candidate’s ethical behaviour as a non-negotiable when they recruit, says recruiting experts Hays in Hong Kong.


According to Hays, this desire for ethically sound candidates is apparent across all industries, although it is most obvious in the banking sector in response to guidelines released last year by the Hong Kong Monetary Authority (HKMA).


“Since the guidelines were announced, employers have increased their focus on ethics when recruiting and at Hays we’ve answered many questions from employers on how they can best assess a candidate’s ethical values,” says Marc Burrage, Regional Director of Hays in Hong Kong.


“The HKMA’s guidelines make it very clear that it is the bank’s responsibility to employ ethically sound people. But it’s not only banks that are now considering a candidate’s ethical behaviour when they recruit; the trend has been apparent across most industries and sectors since the global financial crisis.”


According to Hays, employing ethically sound people can be achieved through a few simple strategies.


“It starts with firstly identifying not only the technical skills you want in a candidate but also their integrity and standards of business conduct,” says Marc. “Your job specification should also address ethical expectations. 


“Employers should use this information to draft competency or targeted selection questions for each point in their job specification and competence criteria.


“We recommend behavioural based interviewing in order to determine how a candidate acted in a previous role, which gives an indication of their future performance. This provides deep insights when attempting to uncover their integrity and standards of business conduct.


“Pay attention to any red flags during an interview, such as if a candidate is evasive, tries to control the interview or is argumentative.  This provides an insight into their professional conduct.


“Make cultural fit just as important as technical skills when you select candidates.  In this way, you’ll recruit candidates who are the right fit with your way of doing business.  Use your Employee Value Proposition (EVP) to define the company’s culture and ambitions. Then use this information to ask the right questions of candidates to identify those with the right cultural fit for your organisation. For example you could ask, ‘Tell us of a time when your own personal ethics did not align with those of a client. What did you do and how was the situation resolved?’


“Next, background check the candidate’s CV, experience and qualifications. Today some employers will also use social media sites like Facebook or LinkedIn to find out more about a candidate. When it comes to references, do not rely on written references; we have never seen a bad one! Instead, call since previous employers are a good source to help you determine a candidate’s overall credibility, integrity and performance in the workplace.


“Many employers are also turning to psychometric assessment to explore a candidate’s ethical behaviour, preference and motivation. But it’s important to remember that they are not a cure-all solution and a person’s track record remains one of the best predictors of their future performance, which is why face-to-face behavioural-based interviewing is still recommended.


“If you are still not sure about the ethical standards of a candidate, ask them to write a one page submission on their opinion of ethics in the role they have interviewed for. This never fails to determine just how much they really value ethics and how much they want your job.”

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