How does an employer measure an applicant’s work ethic during an interview? Before being able to assess work ethic you need to fully understand what it is you are looking for. Some believe that work ethic is turning up on time, while others would argue that this is purely punctuality, so it is crucial that you know what question you are asking. Personally, I am looking for how an individual values the work that they do. Because of that, I have already formulated an ideal answer in my mind and would then pose a scenario based on questions such as: “Can you give me a working situation where your work ethic has been tested to its limit? And how did you handle this?” With this question I am looking for an answer that has meant the individual has had to sacrifice something personally in order to demonstrate their loyalty to their work.
Interviewers tend to make common mistakes in employment background checks. Again, I think a lot of people go into employment checks not knowing what it is they are truly looking for, which means that these checks can become more like “chats” that don’t really answer any questions. Be careful with these and plan a set list of questions in advance. You aren’t looking to put the referee in a difficult spot but looking instead to clarify basic information and allowing an opportunity for them to be positive about the individual in question. For example, I’d be asking a question that displays a specific example of their work ethic or loyalty to the business. You can normally tell if the referee is being sincere with their answer or if they are struggling to actually remember a set example. Good work ethic should be regularly demonstrated, and therefore easy for the employer to provide numerous answers or examples.
About the author
Stuart Elliott is the managing director and owner of Elliott Scott HR.