We live in a ridiculous world. Governments and companies install surveillance cameras everywhere, devices that can tell your identity even when you wear a face mask. Each our move is monitored, and unless you leave your smartphone at home, privacy and freedom is a mere expression for philosophers.

At the same time, however, they introduce GDPR (in Europe) and similar regulations in the US, aimed to protect the identity of website visitors, employees and customers. Working in retail, or even in business to business sales, let alone in a medical practice, you are now obliged to keep all information about your customers confidential.

Fines are hefty for companies who fail to comply with the rules. Hence they put emphasis on this while hiring new employees, and you may get a question about protecting the privacy of the customers, or discussing confidential information about them, in almost any job interview.

Let’s have a look at 7 sample answers to this question, so you know what you should say, what the hiring managers expect to hear from you. My selection includes some basic and typical answers, and also some unconventional and philosophical choices. Hopefully you will find there at least one answer that you can use in your job interview.

 

7 sample answers to “With whom would you discuss confidential information regarding customers?” interview question

  1. I would not discuss the confidential information with anyone. Customers privacy belongs to my priorities, and I understand that you work with sensitive data in your company. Not only that I would not discuss it with anyone. I will also try my best to safeguard and protect the file of each customer, both online and offline.
  2. I am not sure if I know the rules correctly. If I am right, I can discuss the information about the patients with their direct family members. But I won’t just start talking as soon as someone says that they are the brother or wife of the patient. I will always ask them for their identity card, and make a record, to be sure that I do not share a sensitive information about the patient with someone who’s not eligible to hear it.
  3. Depends on what you mean by confidential. I understand that tracking customers behavior plays a pivotal role in retail success in 21st century. Hence I may discuss the information from the analytics, even about individual customers, with the members of the production and marketing team. However, I would use numbering and anonymous identifiers, to ensure that I won’t reveal the exact identity of this or that customer. In my view this is the only sensible way to do the business. Unless we monitor the customer behavior, talk about it withing the team, and adjust our marketing strategy accordingly, our competitors will eat us for dinner.
  4. The only person I would discuss such information with is a law enforcement officer. Protecting the privacy of the customers is one thing, dealing with shoplifting another. I am well aware that retailers across US lose $50 billion annually to theft. We need to monitor the store, and also cooperate with the police, if we want to minimize the negative impact of theft in the store. At least that’s my opinion.
  5. In general I do not think it is correct to discuss confidential information with anyone. However, I am ready to oblige to the rules you have in place here in the company. I mean, what happens behind the walls of the office stays in the office. If you discuss customers in the meetings, perhaps even some sensitive information about them, I have no moral problem with that. Because I understand that the better we know the customer, the easier it is to make a sale. And some personal information about them and their family will always help… But as I said, I am ready to oblige the rules. If talking about customers is forbidden, and we have to rely on other things while trying to close the deals, I am ready to respect that.
  6. In my opinion, personal privacy is just an illusion. Companies like Google and Facebook know everything about us, and the same is true about the government. Hence I see no reason why we should put an emphasis on protecting the sensitive data of our customers. I mean, I do not plan to talk about our clients with my wife back home. We have better things to discuss and to do in the evening. At the same time, however, I consider it unfair to have all this special privacy regulations and customer protection systems in place. Because at the end of the day privacy is just an illusion in 21st century, and to put an extra burden on the retailers makes no sense.
  7. I am a talker, and I find it hard to keep my mouth shut. If I find something about the customer interesting, perhaps something spicy from their personal life, I will definitely talk about it with my friends. But I won’t mention their name, or anything else that could betray their identity. It will simply be an interesting story, something you share over a couple of beers, having fun with friends. But my audience won’t be able to identify the main hero of the story. You see, I want to be honest with you right from the start. I could claim I’d not share any information with anyone, and count on your naivety. But everyone talks, because people love stories. What you do here matters, and people you work with are extremely interesting. That’s why it is hard to keep quiet. I believe, however, that as long as we manage to protect the identity of the customer, we can share their anonymous stories with anyone…

 

Doing more than expected is a great attitude to show in an interview

You can always do more to protect the privacy of your customers. If data protection plays a pivotal role for your new employer, you should elaborate on your answer, and explain how you want to protect them.

For example, you can say that you will keep all files and record in locked drawers. What’s more, you will ensure that all online files are password protected, or even fingerprint protected, and no unauthorized person can ever reach them. See sample answer no. 1 as a good illustration of this attitude.

Tracking customer behavior is not the same thing like sharing sensitive information about them

Power is in data, and all successful retailers and businesses track the behavior of their customers. And they track as much as they can. You should never oppose this in an interview.

As long as they give consent to it (which often means clicking “agree” on the welcoming screen on a website–just like you did here, or sometimes just entering the store–by entering the place they agree to be monitored), there’s nothing wrong with tracking their every move–at least not from the point of view of law, and of the retail giants.

Show the hiring managers that you aren’t naive. But tracking something sensitive isn’t the same thing like sharing the information with the third party. Even when you discuss data from Analytics with your colleagues, you will try to protect the identity of individual customers. You will either use identifiers, or work with bundles of data instead of individual customer’s data. See sample answer no. 3 as a good illustration of this attitude.

 

Do not be afraid to experiment with an unconventional answer

At the end of the day, job interview is a sales talk. Hiring managers listen to the candidates, one after another, comparing them, trying to find the winner, often ending up confused or bored.

Saying the same thing everyone else says won’t help you to stand out, to be remembered. You can, and perhaps even should, opt for safe way and typical answers, only when you do not compete with many other people for the job.

But if they interview 20 candidates, or a 100, which isn’t something unheard of for hiring processes, you won’t make a breakthrough with an average answer. In such a case, you can experiment with an unconventional or philosophical answer.

For example you can say that privacy is just an illusion (sample answer no. 6), or you can even say that you will actually talk about your customers (sample answer no. 7).

You are taking some risks with these answers, sure. But in some cases taking risks and trying to stand out is your only chance to succeed in the interview… Keep it on your mind, and do not be afraid to experiment.

 

Ready to answer this one? I hope so! Check also 7 sample answers to other tricky interview questions:

Matthew Chulaw
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