Up to Code continued
❯ Support your employees when they
are faced with ethical decisions, encourage them to report misconduct, and act
on information that’s given to you.
If you are a current or potential employee, you should:
❯ Discern what’s right and wrong, based
on principles, and act on your principles,
even if there’s a business or personal cost;
❯ Live the Code of Professional Conduct
❯ Pursue professionalism credits as
part of your continuing education
❯ Seek guidance from the ABCD when
you are in doubt about your actions or
the actions of another actuary.
The interview process is the time for
both job candidates and employers to get
acquainted and uncover each other’s values, motivations, and ethical codes. Each
side should be prepared to both ask and
answer questions about ethics.
“There’s no explicit integrity check
box,” says Chris Raham, senior adviser
at Ernst & Young. “Rather, we base hiring on the clear match with our firm’s
value system: teamwork, open-mindedness, accountability, sense of urgency,
Gregg Schneider, senior vice president of Pan-American Life Insurance
Group, agrees. “At this pivotal time in
the industry and with the importance of
ERM,” Schneider says, “we need to focus
It’s the interviewer’s responsibility to
distinguish between candidates who are
authentic and those who merely recite
the “right” answers. The ultimate goal is
to reveal the candidate’s core elements:
❯ Character—what drives the candidate?
❯ Outlook—what is his or her approach
❯ Relationships—what and who are important to him or her?
❯ Expectations—what does he or she
expect of the employer and him- or
Techniques exist to help interviewers in accurately and thoughtfully
evaluating a candidate. The integrity
check interview is a strategy in which
the interviewer asks questions related
to how a candidate acted in a particular situation, why he or she acted that
way, and how he or she felt about it.
Developed by UCLA psychiatrist Mark
Goulston, this method is based on the
premise that real concentration is required to tell a good lie. Most people
cannot keep their stories straight if they
have to deal with questions directed to
three distinct parts of their brains: action, thought, and feeling.
Another effective method is the behavioral interview. Behavioral interview questions are designed to uncover past behaviors in order to predict future ones. Some
examples of questions that can help reveal
a candidate’s self-awareness, emotional intelligence, and moral fiber include:
❯ Give some examples of situations in
which you were forced to choose between
what was right and what was best for the
company. How did you handle them?
❯ How would you describe the ethics of
your current company? Which areas do
you feel comfortable with, and which do
you feel uncomfortable with?
❯ Have you ever observed someone
stretching the rules at work? Have you
been in a situation when you had to
make something seem better than it
really was? Or have you ever felt guilty
about receiving credit for work that was
mostly completed by others? If so, how
did you handle these situations?
❯ Do you believe regulations and policies should be followed to the letter or
just considered as guidelines?
On the other side of the interview table, job candidates need to review their
résumé and rephrase anything that could
potentially be misread or misunderstood.
As an ethical candidate, you don’t want
to be caught in what could be construed
as a lie. Be confident in your career path,
and speak with passion about your true
background and credentials.
You should also be prepared to answer behavioral interview questions.
Prior to your interview, reread the Code
of Professional Conduct and Standards of
Practice. Take some time to focus on situations in which you have been faced with
an ethical or moral dilemma. Also, ask
about the company’s mission statement
and corporate values. Solicit specific examples of ways these are demonstrated
in the organization, such as:
❯ Does the firm have a corporate code
❯ As a leader in the firm, what keeps you
awake at night?
❯ How does the company support its
employees when they are faced with
❯ Does the organization participate in
any corporate giving and community
looking Beyond Words
Actions can speak volumes during an interview. In fact, body language is 65 percent of all communication. From the initial handshake to posture to eye contact,
be attentive to what’s being said without
words. Be aware of any nervous habits,
as well as variations in tone of voice.
If you are an employer, train and
encourage your hiring managers to pin
down clues that a candidate may be dishonest or uncomfortable. If you are a
candidate, be aware of vague answers.
Ask yourself if the interviewer seems
genuine and enthusiastic about the organization’s integrity and ethics policies.
No matter which side of the interview table you sit on, finding the right
fit is a vital element of any interview.
Whether you are interviewing an employer or the candidate for a job, probe
for examples of ethics and integrity and
ensure that underlying core values are in
line with yours. As a professional in the
actuarial field, you have the responsibility to invite integrity to the interview.
This will enable you to create successful
employer-employee matches and mutually beneficial partnerships.
MARGARET RESCE MILKINT,
managing partner of Jacobson Executive
Search, the executive search and
selection practice of the Jacobson group,
can be reached at (800) 466-1578 or
KILKENN Y, actuarial practice manager
of Jacobson Associates, the professional
recruiting and career coaching division
of the Jacobson group, can be reached
at (800) 466-1578 or mkilkenny@