What Would You Do if You Saw a Coworker Stealing?

Job Interview Question & Answer: What If You Saw a Coworker Taking From the Cash Register?

Why Employers Want to Know

Hiring managers ask interviewees how they would handle seeing somebody stealing to get a sense of an applicant’s ethics. Most companies have a zero-tolerance policy on theft, so supervisors want to know where you stand. This question helps a business judge whether or not a candidate is trustworthy and reliable.

How to Answer Questions about Employee Theft

When asked what you would do if you witnessed a coworker stealing, it’s important to respond quickly and decisively. The goal is to show the potential employer that you are loyal. Assure the interviewer that you would report the theft to HR or your manager, no matter the circumstances.

Things to Avoid

While the question “What if you saw a coworker taking from the cash register?” may seem straightforward, crafting the best response can be tricky. Avoid making a classic mistake, such as:

  • Hesitating to answer. Employers view theft as a clear-cut issue with no gray area, and so should you.
  • Saying you would take charge of the situation. Companies prefer to handle disciplinary action through the proper channels.
  • Claiming that it depends on the circumstances. It’s up to supervisors to decide the seriousness of an offense.

Remember that hiring managers are looking for honest employees. Keep in mind that management or HR should always be your first contact if you witness wrongdoing.

Sample Answers

The appropriate response can vary depending on the position. Check out these examples to help you answer the question, “What do you do if you see a coworker stealing?”:

Sample Answer 1 – Retail Worker

“If I noticed a coworker taking products, I’d report it as soon as possible. I would make sure to use discretion and speak to a team lead in private so that they could deal with the thief appropriately.”

Sample Answer 2 – Restaurant Server

“Unfortunately, wait staff may try to scam the company or guests by stealing from the register or padding checks. I feel this hurts the reputation of the restaurant and servers. If I saw it happening, I would talk to my manager right away about any concerning behavior.”

Sample Answer 3 – Bank Teller

“As bankers, it’s our responsibility to be accurate and honest with clients’ money. Stealing from customers or the company is a huge violation of trust. I would ask my supervisor for a meeting to discuss what I saw so that they could take the necessary action.”

Your Experience Counts

When an interviewer asks what you would do if you saw a coworker stealing, it’s a good idea to draw on experience. If you had a similar dilemma at a previous job, briefly describe what happened and how you told your boss. If you handled the situation well, this could demonstrate to employers that you are a trustworthy individual.

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