Job interview question – would most people steal?
I’ve been applying for retail jobs online and often the question comes up: “I believe most people would steal if they thought they could get away with it.” Usually you are asked to say if you strongly agree, agree, are neutral, disagree, or strongly disagree. Also, on some questionaires, this question has popped up several times throughout, each time worded slightly differently. What is the correct answer to this question? I’m not looking to hear your personal beliefs of whether or not people would steal, I’m trying to find the answers employers want to hear and why.
You’re smart to get advice and prepare for these interview questions. Likely the employers asking these kinds of questions are looking to see how you feel about the ethics of stealing or if you empathize with those who do steal. Also, believing someone would steal is different from saying you’d steal yourself. Obviously this is one of those “deep” questions asked to help get a psychological look at your philosophies of life. Answer honestly and be prepared to talk about your answer further in a follow up interview. If it were me, I’d tend to agree that, in our world today, most people would steal if they thought they could get away with it. That doesn’t mean I’m going to steal myself, just that I see the slippery slope of the world sliding in that direction. Try to imagine what could be construed about you from your answer and chose accordingly.
I think the answer most employers look for is general disagreement, but the reasoning for your answer is what is most important. If you disagree and think most people wouldn’t steal, even if they could get away with it, your line of reasoning should be that you tend to think people are generally good and well-meaning, and that you’d like to be optimistic that people wouldn’t be that way. When answering this way you must be careful not to come across as naive. You might follow up this response by mentioning that while you feel the majority would not steal, there’d definitely be some people who would be more inclined to shoplift knowing they could get away with it.
Honestly, I think you’re backing yourself into a corner if you answer that you agree with the statement. While you may be able to come up with an extremely intelligent answer regarding why you agree, chances are the retail manager you’re having the interview with is not a very intelligent individual to begin with. He or she is looking to weed people out with certain responses (in this case that you agree most people would shoplift). They only start to listen after you’ve given what, to them, is the correct response.
Their primary aim with this question is to predict internal theft. Internal theft (theft involving employees of the company) usually comprises about 50% of their shrink. By agreeing most people would steal given the chance, you’re raising all sorts of red flags.
“Prepare for the worst. Expect the Best”
To me, that quote kind of sums up how you should answer this question.
“While I’d hope, and expect, that most people wouldn’t steal even if they were guaranteed to get away with it, I’m not so naive as to think there wouldn’t be some who would leap at the opportunity. Any sensible business model should embrace a philosophy that provides excellent customer service combined with a practical amount of caution. Customer service can be the greatest defense against shoplifting.”
Although nurses are in high demand, applicants are screened quite thoroughly virtually everywhere in the US. This should not show up on any background check because you wern’t convicted and it happened when you were a minor. They will absolutely ask if you’ve had any criminal convictions, but I doubt they will ask you specifically about having stolen anything. I don’t get why you HAVE to say you have stolen even if you asked. Being innocent until proven guilty in criminal court is a wonderful thing, boo.