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Sometimes we're faced with dishonesty in the workplace. Tell me about such a time and how you handled it.

Employers often include the topic of dishonesty on their list of interview questions. These kinds of behavioral interview questions are deeper in nature as you are now being asked to make a moral judgment.

It's one thing to make a mistake. It's quite another to be dishonest. That is the essence of this question and why it is often on the list of interview questions.

There are varying degrees of dishonesty in the workplace. Some people would feel guilty taking pencil lead or paper clips for personal use.

Other people would have no qualms about making 3,000 copies of a bulletin for their kid's upcoming soccer banquet.

At a prior employer, I remember someone habitually bringing all their garbage and trash from home and using the company dumpsters.

We've all seen horror stories on the national and local news of fraud and dishonesty. Usually these are extreme cases, but almost every company experiences theft, dishonesty, and other employee misbehavior that costs them money. If left unchecked, it could cost them their reputation.

So where do you draw the line?

When do you quietly handle something yourself, and when should you go to your manager?

Employers don't expect you to be a tattle tale or a policeman. But too many times people look the other way when blatant dishonesty is going on in the workplace. Management can't possibly be everywhere at once.

Here are a few dishonest acts that you should share directly with your manager:

  • Stealing merchandise or company property
  • Disclosing proprietary information to outsiders or competitors
  • Falsifying reports to get around safety, quality, or legal regulations
  • Anything of a criminal or blatant illegal nature

Most other acts of dishonesty have shades of gray and are a matter of interpretation. I know people who cheat on their income taxes and brag about it.

That's not my problem or the company's problem.

I know people who spend way too much time on personal phone calls or take the liberty of using the company car one too many times for personal reasons.

Although these are dishonest deeds, I'm not so sure it's my place to say something to my manager about it.

As a general rule, any act of dishonesty that reflects badly on you, the team, or the company--you should first take the initiative to say something about it to the person, or persons involved.

A good example might be someone who over promises something to a customer or supplier, and then under delivers...knowing from the get-go it couldn't be done.

Another example might be someone messing up an order on purpose, or delaying shipment to a customer because they are mad at them and just want to get even.

So if your list of interview questions includes the topic of dishonesty, be prepared to share an appropriate 60 seconds or less, of course.

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