The role of ethics in the hiring process

April 11, 2018

Keeping ethics top of mind when you hire helps to create a team that lives up to your company’s high ethics expectations.

No matter how much you communicate with your employees about the importance of ethics, or how strong your Code of Ethics might be, it is critical to hire people who respect and uphold your ethics standards.

Unfortunately, hiring ethical employees isn’t as simple as running background checks on all new hires, which would only turn up past public records or criminal activity. However, there are a few other ways you can try to really gauge job applicants’ character.


Be savvy examining resumes

The first way to read between the lines for ethical red flags is by closely examining resumes. Candidates who play fast and loose with the facts of their employment and educational backgrounds are not likely to respect your values of transparency and honesty. Candidates who have frequently changed companies, or even industries, should also be able to provide a good explanation for doing so. Long resume gaps may have perfectly innocuous explanations—taking time off for family, a layoff associated with an economic downturn—but they may also indicate trouble getting re-hired if an employee developed a reputation for poor judgment or ethical lapses.


Check with employers and references

It’s standard to ask applicants for references. However, it’s important to actually attempt to contact them. Most references won’t say anything overtly negative about the applicant, both as a courtesy and to protect against lawsuits. Some companies have a policy that they won’t say anything beyond confirming dates of employment. That doesn’t mean you can’t learn anything by talking to them, though.

Many employers will be happy to chat about applicants who were trustworthy, so long as they parted on good terms. If a former employer says they are able to talk, but seems hesitant to discuss specifics about an applicant’s performance or character, that should be cause for concern.


Interview questions

Of course, the most important way to assess an employee’s cultural fit, including their values, is the interview process. Some companies choose to incorporate personality assessments to rate employees’ “conscientiousness.” Others ask candidates for examples of past ethical quandaries they have dealt with, or hypothetical questions about ethical problems somebody in their role might face. Depending on your preferences, any of these could be appropriate.

No hiring process will ever be perfect for weeding out unscrupulous applicants. However, by carefully questioning applicants on their resume gaps, following up with former employers, and asking smart interview questions, you can do your best to ensure that your team members’ values remain as strong as yours.



Read more about how to extend your culture of ethics to all employees.

Learn about U.S. Bank

Related content

High-yield bond issuance: 5 traits lawyers should look for in a service provider

Easier onboarding: What to look for in an administrator

Service provider due diligence and selection best practices

3 tips to maintain flexibility in supply chain management

Insource or outsource? 10 considerations

Administrator accountability: 5 questions to evaluate outsourcing risks

Business risk management for owners of small companies

Complying with changes in fund regulations

Addressing financial uncertainty in international business

Webinar: CSM corporation re-thinks AP

Evaluating interest rate risk creating risk management strategy

5 tips for managing your business cash flow

The future of financial leadership: More strategy, fewer spreadsheets

The surprising truth about corporate cards

The growing importance of a strong corporate culture

Is your restaurant Google-friendly?

Employee benefit plan management: trustee vs. custodian

Preparing for your custodian conversion

Work flexibility crucial as municipalities return to office

Why other lenders may be reaching out to your employees

High-cost housing and down payment options in relocation

Overcoming the 3 key challenges of a lump sum relocation program

Tapping into indirect compensation to recruit foreign talent

Crypto + Relo: Mobility industry impacts

For today's relocating home buyers, time and money are everything

How to increase your savings

Improve online presence your business

Refining your search for an insurance custodian

In a digital world, Liberty Puzzles embraces true connection

3 simple brand awareness tips for your business

How to get started creating your business plan

5 tips for being a great board member

5 tips to use your credit card wisely and steer clear of debt

Webinar: CRE technology trends

5 winning strategies for managing liquidity in volatile times

4 questions you should ask about your custodian

Trends in economics, immigration and mobility policy

Putting home ownership within reach for a diverse workforce

How jumbo loans can help home buyers and your builder business

How to apply for a business credit card

Prioritizing payroll during the COVID-19 pandemic

Meet your business credit card support team

7 uncommon recruiting strategies that you may not have tried yet

5 principles for avoiding ethics pitfalls on social media

5 tips for helping employees raise ethics concerns

Omnichannel retail: 4 best practices for navigating the new normal

How to reward employees and teams who perform well

The costs of hiring a new employee

8 ways to increase employee engagement

Business tips and advice for Black entrepreneurs

Talent acquisition 101: Building a small business dream team

10 tips on how to run a successful family business

Empowering team members

Why retail merchandise returns will be a differentiator in 2022

How a travel clothing retailer is staying true to its brand values

Use this one simple email marketing tip to increase your reach

Opening a business on a budget during COVID-19

How a small business owner is making the workplace work for women

How (and why) to get your business supplier diversity certification

Business credit card 101

Checklist: Increase lead generation with website optimization

The role of ethics in the hiring process

Choosing your M&A escrow partner

How to test new business ideas

How a group fitness studio made the most of online workouts

Year-end financial checklist

How community gave life to lifestyle boutique Les Sol

The San Francisco bridal shop that’s been making memories for 30 years

How Wenonah Canoe is making a boom in business last

How to build a content team

Managing the impacts of appraisal gaps in a hot housing market

Travel for less: Smart (not cheap) ways to spend less on your next trip

Tips to overcome three common savings hurdles

Helpful tips for safe and smart charitable giving

Allowance basics for parents and kids

How Shampoo’ed is transforming hair and inspiring entrepreneurs

Webinar: AP automation for commercial real estate

How to spot a credit repair scam

6 ways to spring clean your finances and save money year-round

How to cut mindless spending: real tips from real people

Real world advice: How parents are teaching their kids about money

How to stop living paycheck to paycheck post-pay increase

Practical money tips we've learned from our dads

Give a prepaid rewards card for employee recognition

How I did it: Joined a board of directors

Tips for navigating a medical hardship when you’re unable to work

5 unique ways to take your credit card benefits further

5 tips to use your credit card wisely and steer clear of debt

30-day adulting challenge: Financial wellness tasks to complete in a month

Celebrity Cake Studio’s two decades of growth and success

How Al’s Breakfast is bringing people together

What you should know about licensing agreements

Webinar: CRE Digital Transformation – Balancing Digitization with cybersecurity risk

Webinar: CRE Digital Transformation – Balancing Digitization with cybersecurity risk

5 steps for creating an employee recognition program

How to hire employees: Employee referral vs. external hiring

Break free from cash flow management constraints

How a bar trivia company went digital during COVID-19

Evaluating interest rate risk creating risk management strategy


Start of disclosure content

Loan approval is subject to credit approval and program guidelines. Not all loan programs are available in all states for all loan amounts. Interest rates and program terms are subject to change without notice. Mortgage, home equity and credit products are offered by U.S. Bank National Association. Deposit products are offered by U.S. Bank National Association. Member FDIC.