Give an Example of an Ethical Dilemma you faced. How did you handle it?
The most common ethical dilemma involves the information disparity between a client and the employer. As a service provider, most sales team have a thorough understanding of the client needs. The add-on services and clauses that capture additional revenue from the client might be a strategy that is good for the company’s bottom line. The problem arises when they are abused.
Depending on your job function and industry some of the unethical practices might have become mainstream with no one batting an eyelid to question the practice. Citing examples that demonstrate a complete shaking up of a system or your organization’s common practices might not be believable as the admission team realizes the limited power you had. However, if you were part of a core team in a start-up environment, mentioning such example is ideal.
For a larger organization, the ethical dilemma could arise in six forms:
The duty towards the company precedes the customers and society. At least this is an implicit understanding among professionals. Charging for services that are not provided or buffering billable hours is an all too common phenomenon in consulting and technology. Rarely we have seen the example cited in our mock interview session. If you took a stand and addressed the need to be fair in billing, the example would stand out. Offer the details of the project, the timeline and the practices established in the company. An example where only a one-time objection was made should be avoided. Instead, choose such instances only if you have brought the systemic issue to the management and suggested solutions to measure billable hours accurately.
Depending on the accounting rules the company follows, borrowing from the future cash flow for demonstrating growth in the current year is a move that arises in two scenarios. One when a major funding round is pending or in other cases, when there is an acquisition. In some cases, a desperate few quarters could push the management to do strange things. If you were in Accounting or leading the due diligence of an acquisition, the accounting practices would have become apparent. We had a client who took an influential board member to the side and shared the disturbing observation of the target company inflating foreign exchange transactions and valuation of their assets. It was a done deal, but the Finance professional understood that acquiring a culture of dishonesty could corrupt the parent company and discourage talented peers from joining the company.
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