In an era when corporate responsibility and sustainability are becoming prominent in public consciousness, professional ethics are assuming greater importance to both employers and employees alike. Employers want ethical employees, employees want to work for ethical employers, and companies are realising that operating in an ethical manner is, in fact, good for business.
Ethics encompass a person’s values and moral principles and extend into every area of life. If you see yourself as an ethical person, you should be able to demonstrate that in any manner of ways. It could be through your ‘green’ practices, volunteer work, involvement with the RSPCA, working as a surf lifesaver, community involvement or your commitment to buying ‘fair trade’ products. You should explain how these practices are reflections of deeply held beliefs about what is right rather than mere token efforts.
Even if you don’t engage in these sorts of practices, you could simply state the importance to you of maintaining your integrity in everything you do, both at work and in your personal life. You could emphasise the importance to you of honesty and trust in your relationships, and show how you demonstrate this in your relationships with family, friends and colleagues.
Another way of answering this question could be to describe a situation where an opportunity presented itself to act less than ethically – such as the time you could have claimed credit for someone else’s work, could have sped away from bumping someone else’s car without leaving a note, or were given more money than you were owed. Showing that you followed your conscience and did the right thing will show your potential employer that you’ve got the right ethical foundations to make for a model employee who they will feel proud to have on their team.