Find More Honest Employees

susmall This thought came to me fairly randomly – partially based on an experience with a friend who had been very honest (and was later rewarded) and partially based on a discussion with a colleague about out of the ordinary interview techniques and content (a subject that has always interested me). So, keep that in mind – this is very random. I’m not quite sure if it is even legal.

How does my idea work as an interesting addition to a job interview?

While you are interviewing a potential employee, instead of asking 20 questions about ethics, honesty, morals, etc., place a $5 or $10 bill somewhere in a hallway that the candidate will have to walk by him or herself. See what the candidate does with the money – does he or she pocket it, leave it there, or turn it in?

Exactly where you leave it probably doesn’t matter, as long as the candidate will be very likely to see it and it isn’t completely obvious: leave it right outside the building’s door, in a hallway, near the reception desk, etc. If it is right outside the interview room, it may be too obvious. Make sure it isn’t in an area that is too busy or someone else might beat the candidate to it.

I have used my (terrible) graphic skills to draw out a diagram (see above, click for full size) of how this could possibly work. The diagram leaves two possible locations for the $10 bill – about three quarters of the way down a hallway and near a reception desk. If it is placed near the reception desk, the receptionists have to be distracted and not paying attention to where the bill is.

I think this serves a purpose, though. It identifies three types of employees:

  • Indifferent or oblivious employees will either not notice or leave the bill. They aren’t bad, but aren’t good, either.
  • Dishonest employees will put the bill in their pocket and walk out the door without saying anything.
  • Honest employees will hand the bill in to someone at the reception desk or the interviewer.

This could really work for retail or hospitality (i. e. restaurant) companies that have issues with employees stealing. What do you think? Could this work? Is it even legal? Has someone done it before?

Click here for a full size version of the diagram above.

6 Responses to “Find More Honest Employees”

  1. Meikah Delid said:

    Jan 31, 08 at 12:05 am

    I don’t think it’s illegal to stage a test like this. But it’s not a good one.

    The interviewee, who could be a bit apprehensive of the impending interview, may not notice the money and so the interviewer would conclude that the interviewee is insensitive or unobservant. Or the interviewee may notice it, pick it and hand it over, then he’s labeled as honest. Or he pockets it and that’s the end of him. 🙂 I think what we can derive from the test cannot be conclusive.

    A person’s character can be tested in many ways, of course. It shows in how he talks, reacts to things, or handle situations. 🙂

  2. Service Untitled said:

    Jan 31, 08 at 12:19 am

    I agree – those are all possibilities. I wouldn’t discount not noticing it or ignoring it as much (you can tell if they look at it and just walk on, though). I would not be happy if the employee pocketed it, though.

  3. bernie said:

    Jan 31, 08 at 9:40 am

    My dad did that when I had friends over. He told me many years later. He always seemed to have a nose for who was trustorthy and who wasnt!

  4. Service Untitled said:

    Jan 31, 08 at 8:44 pm

    Bernie: Haha. That’s pretty funny!

  5. Matt Sevier said:

    Feb 04, 08 at 3:46 pm

    This is something that nursing homes could use effectively, as theft of resident property is oftentimes an issue with employees. The legalities would of course have to be worked out, but if I was an administrator, I would gladly give up the $5 or $10 in order to know in advance that someone was untrustworthy. I’m going to link to this post on my blog.

  6. Service Untitled said:

    Feb 05, 08 at 12:01 pm


    Thanks for the comment and link Matt! I think it could work.