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Answering Confidentiality Interview Questions

Updated: May 10

Confidentiality is at the center of many jobs, and especially in industries like healthcare, finance, and law, where the unauthorized disclosure of sensitive information can have serious consequences. So, of course interviewers need to know if you are someone who can protect the privacy and security of your clients, patients, and colleagues. It doesn't matter how good a candidate looks for that law clerk position if they tell their friends all their clients' private information in the café every Sunday!

"How do You Handle Sensitive Information in the Workplace?"

You are being asked this very general question to find out what strategies you use to keep sensitive information safe in your workplace. Your methods will be different depending on your job and the type of information you keep; these could be:

  • reminding others of the importance of confidentiality in the workplace, and never talking about that information outside of the workplace.

  • using secure methods of communication.

  • locking your computer screen when you are not at your desk.

  • never leaving paper documents unattended at your desk.

  • checking the credentials of anyone who calls asking for sensitive information.

Example Answer:

"I handle sensitive information in the workplace by using encrypted methods of communication, storing paper copies in locked cabinets, and shredding any that need to be removed from storage, and being mindful of my surroundings when discussing sensitive topics. To make sure I am up to date with the confidentiality policies we have in place, I sign up for the refresher training course every year."


"How do You Balance the Need for Transparency With the Need to Maintain Confidentiality?"

Your interviewer wants to see your ability to balance openness and privacy professionally. To make a good impression, you need to demonstrate your understanding of both, and provide an example of a time when you have done this. Your answer should show you think about privacy, safety, honesty, and the law when you make these decisions.


Don't be afraid to say you would make someone wait for information if you had any doubts about the best course of action; you can't take back information you have given out! A great way to demonstrate transparency without giving out sensitive information is to share why you are not able to give that information out.


Example Answer:

"To get the right balance, I focus on being open and honest in my communication while also being mindful of what information is appropriate to share. I also use secure methods of communication when I'm discussing sensitive topics, which makes sure that our conversation stays confidential. If someone is directly asking me for sensitive information, I will always check if it's appropriate to give that information out, and who to. I find explaining why I am not able to give that information out helps people to feel heard, and if I need to check whether any information is confidential, I make sure I let them know that, and then get back to them with the answer."


"Give an Example of a Time When You Had to Maintain Confidentiality Under Pressure, or in the Face of Resistance."

Most people can keep sensitive information safe and secure in a relaxed working environment. Your interviewer wants to know if you can stay that way when the three telephones on your desk are ringing all day, and someone of authority pushes you to do them a favor "just this once". People pleasers (people who always want others to be happy) will find this to be an extremely challenging task.


To give a good impression, think of a specific time when your ability to keep information confidential was challenged. Carefully explain the situation and why the information is sensitive, what you did to maintain the confidentiality, and the outcome.


Example Answer:

"I was a customer service representative at a bank, and I had access to highly confidential client financial records. A co-worker tried to get me to share sensitive information about a client's financial difficulties. I reminded my co-worker that we had a strict client confidentiality policy and employees were not allowed to share information without a manager's approval. I was able to keep the information confidential and reported the situation to my manager."


“A Potential Customer Asks for a Detailed Plan of One of Your Company's Products. How do You React?”

A detailed plan could be a circuit diagram of a product's electrical components, a concept inspiration document, or any plans for future developments. As you might expect, your interviewer wants you to recognize that these are trade secrets that should not be made public. You want to give the impression that you can keep calm and friendly without losing a client. Answer the 'potential customer' by offering to connect them with the appropriate department, or providing them with the most detailed publicly accessible information you have, and thank them for their interest.


Example Answer:

"I'd thank the client for their interest in our product and inform them that I will pass their inquiries to our product development team, for further responses. If the client prefers a direct interaction, I would be pleased to set up a meeting with a representative of the dev team. If the client continues to ask for these materials directly from me, I would apologize that I only have access to the publicly available information, and reassure them that if this information is available, it is with the development team."

Wrap Up

Handling confidential information is a difficult balance of transparency and privacy. Being prepared for these questions in an interview can demonstrate your commitment to handling sensitive information with as much care as possible. After all, maintaining confidentiality is not just about procedures; it's about building trust in every interaction.


Make sure you take the time you need to prepare your answer scenarios before the day of your interview, and use the tools and resources provided. You've got what it takes to show your interviewer how much you care about keeping sensitive information safe.

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