Confidentiality Interview Questions

Use the below-given confidentiality interview questions during your recruitment process to find candidates who are careful in the office and know how to protect company’s confidential details and employees’ privacy.



Why should you assess candidates’ confidentiality skills?

Confidentiality in the office space means keeping personnel matters and crucial business information private. Good confidentiality skills are essential for:

  • HR Managers who maintain employee records like their salary, employees’ contracts and benefits.
  • Finance professionals who manage compensation packages.
  • Legal staff responsible for composing and maintaining classified agreements and documents.
  • IT staff responsible for managing data privacy and internal communications.
  • Senior Managers who are involved in strategic decisions and have access to sensitive employee and corporate information.
  • Executive Assistant responsible for organizing managers’ schedules and take minutes during important meetings.

Confidentiality skills interview questions

  • If mistakenly you receive an email with confidential data addressed to the CEO or HR Manager what would you do?
  • If in a group meeting, a senior manager asks you about something confidential, like someone’s salary details. What would you do if there are people in the meeting who are not supposed to know this information?
  • If a prospective client asks you to share a detailed roadmap (like new products and features) how would you respond?
  • If there is a fire emergency and you have to leave documents with confidential data on your desk, what would you do?
  • What is the best way to share confidential documents with your coworkers? Name the tools you use for sharing digital documents.
  • What would you tell to a team member who is interested in knowing about a coworker’s salary?
  • During job fairs and events, how do you decide what you should and should not say to prospective clients about the company?
  • How do you store historical employee records? (e.g. medical reports and employee contracts)

How to assess a candidate’s confidentiality skills during the interview?

During interviews, ask hypothetical scenarios that might occur on the job, instead of asking direct questions like “Can you maintain confidentiality at work?” These answers will help you know if candidates are:

Discreet: Being careless with personal or corporate matters can put colleagues in very weird situations and lead to legal risks for your company.

Ethical: Candidates with strong judgmental skills are able to determine what information is classified and who should have access to confidential data.

Professional: Employees who stay away from office gossips and respect co-workers’ privacy are more likely to handle confidential data with care.

If required, include short assessments to know how candidates deal with situations that require good confidentiality skills. For example:

  • If you are recruiting executive assistants, ask them to organize an office. An ideal candidate will store agendas and classified documents in locked drawers.
  • If you are recruiting IT Administrators, ask them to recommend cyber security applications. An ideal candidate will ask follow-up questions about your team and your requirements in order to suggest anti-virus, data encryption, and password management tools.
  • If you are hiring HR Managers, ask them how they will respond to a sexual harassment complaint. Look for candidates who not just explain how they would investigate the matter, but also take steps to maintain the privacy of the coworker who lodged the complaint.

Red Flags

  • They underestimate the importance of secure sharing and storage of confidential data: Especially candidates for IT department should be able to provide specific examples of tools to share and store data safely.
  • They are secretive instead of discreet: Being confidential doesn’t mean disclosing nothing at all. Employees need to understand who can get access to which information and how to share it with them.
  • They don’t know what constitutes confidential information: You can train employees on the procedures they have to follow when working with confidential data, given they already know what information is confidential. Knowledgeable candidates will be able to decide when to keep the information private.
  • They are rude or unprofessional when declining data access requests: Maintaining confidentiality is one thing, but being able to softly decline access to the wrong person is equally important. Especially, HR staff and Senior Managers should be able to gently explain that they can’t share specific information.