Under What Circumstances Would Your Applicant Ignore Company Policy?

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Listen to the Hiring Tip Here

During the interview process, there are many questions you can ask. The Hiring Tips have provided a good number of these.

Here’s another one you’ll find interesting:

“Under what circumstances did you ignore or bend company policy?”

Your applicant–we’ll call him Frank–may answer, “Oh, there were no circumstances where I did such a thing.”

A safe answer, but perhaps not a completely honest one.

You might continue along these lines,

“Well, Frank, I understand and respect your answer. I have worked in several companies in the past and there have been times I went against company policy and I believed I was correct in doing so.

“One example I recall was a convenience store where I was often the only employee in the store when it came time to close at 9PM. Company policy was very strict on this:

“The store closed at 9PM and that was that.

“Well, one day, as I was cleaning up around [9:30]–a good thirty minutes after closing–a lady came and knocked on the glass door at the front of the store. I told her through the glass that we were closed and that I couldn’t help her. She went on to explain she was in a great deal of pain and she just needed some aspirin.

“I knew the boss would be angry, but I opened the door for her, she got her aspirin, thanked me profusely and went off. The cash registers were closed off, so I basically took her cash and entered it in as a transaction the next day. Another thing I was sure my boss wouldn’t appreciate.

“I just couldn’t let that lady go off in so much pain when I was able to help her without causing any real harm to the store.

“So, let me ask you the question as it relates to the future, ‘Under what circumstances would you ignore or bend company policy or rules?'”

And then sit back and wait for your applicant to come up with an answer.

Of course, the example I gave above about ignoring strict company policy re closing at 9PM is not your example. Ideally you have a real example of your own you can provide your applicant.

The basic gist here is where would your prospective employee draw the line when it came to his/her independent decision-making that, in some way, violated company policy.

This Q & A at least gets this subject a bit more out in the open.

And of course, it begs the following two questions:

1) Do you want someone who is going to follow company policy at all times and to the letter?

2) Or do you want someone who, if they feel the situation is justified, will bend the rules.

Either way, your applicant’s judgement is a good thing to understand right at the outset.



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