Ethics and Madoff

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The dilemma presented when faced with a resume containing Bernard Madoff’s firm as a former employer may be complex to some; however, from my point of view, the dilemma may be resolved by using appropriate and effective selection tools. Dismissing a highly qualified candidate based sole on the reputation or legal troubles of a former employer would be unethical, especially since as HR professionals we aspire to be as objective as possible when it comes to selection or hiring decisions. Whether or not I believe the applicant was aware of the illegal activities of the firm is irrelevant, since I cannot prove or know with certainty that this was the case. I would be making unfair assumptions about the candidate. However, I cannot say that I wouldn’t be a little hesitant to consider the applicant, especially if they were a higher level employee at the firm and may have been more likely to be aware of the unethical practices of the firm. If the applicant is highly qualified, meeting the KSAOs necessary to perform the job, and would have made it to the next step of the selection process had it not been for his or her former employer’s reputation, then I would consider the applicant. Since potentially hiring a former employee of any organization with legal troubles or a tarnished image poses several risks, including negatively affecting the reputation of the organization with its stakeholders if he or she turns out to engage in unethical behavior in the future, the use of an array of selection methods would rule out the likelihood that such behavior would occur. The outcome of selection methods such as assessment tests and effective interviewing techniques would serve as an ethical criterion that could be applied to selection decisions involving applicants with notorious former employers. I would want to administer a personality test or integrity test to assess the applicant’s views on unethical behavior, which may help predict unethical tendencies (Noe, Hollenbeck,...
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