Rule-Consciousness: The Internalization of Organizational Rules

Rule Consciousness refers to the unique way individuals can interpret, evaluate and react to the designated societal and/or organizational rules in place. More specifically, the personality trait rule-consciousness determines to what extent cultural standards of right and wrong are internalized and used to control one's behavior. The extent of which individuals hold the belief that a rule has a significant value and should be followed, can play a crucial role in guiding moral behavior. The rule-consciousness trait has a range which includes two opposite poles namely Non-conforming and Rule-conscious. Let’s examine both poles to better understand how we assess this specific trait.

Non-conforming: Individuals who hold a more casual attitude towards the designated rules. They lack the desire to adhere to the expectations as described by the rules, particularly when they believe there are good reasons to bind them. They can get annoyed when forced to follow rules that make no sense to them. They tend to seek excitement and are playful and spontaneous. In the workplace, these people often have a strong need for autonomy and flexibility. Additionally, they can struggle a great deal when forced to conform to strict rules or regulations. On the other hand, non-conforming individuals tend to adapt well in settings that do not require strict designated processes and flexible approaches are permitted.

Common Descriptors: expedient, self-indulgent, careless

Rule-conscious: Individuals who tend to have strongly internalized the importance of rules and their standards which they utilize to judge and restrain behavior. They have high self-control, they display moral behavior, respect those in authority and see themselves as conscientious and persevering. In the workplace, they are strict followers of manners, rules and principles.

Common Descriptors: dutiful, conscientious, conforming, moralistic, rule-bound

Rule-Consciousness Interview Guide

The interview questions listed below can draw revealing answers and get you on your way to finding whether employees are able to follow rules or bend them at times in order to accomplish an assignment. These interview questions will allow you to assess the degree of how rule-conscious or non-conforming a candidate is.

Note: There is no right or wrong answer, the answer you are seeking is based on what best fits the role and your company culture.

Top 2 questions and expected answers for each end of the scale

1. Have you been in a situation where a colleague asked you to "bend the rules" to complete a project? What happened?

Rule-conscious: Individuals who score closer towards the rule-conscious end of the scale are most likely to answer that they haven’t agreed to bend the rules no matter the circumstances. They tend to carefully consider what’s right and proper when making a decision as they are highly attentive to moral issues and want things to be done properly.

Non-conforming: Inividuals who score closer towards the non-conforming end of the scale are most likely to answer that due to the high stakes of the project they agreed to slightly or totally bend the rules as they were good reasons to do so and their choices are justified. They tend to believe that the achievement of their objectives is more important than adhering to fixed rules or regulations.

2. Do you prefer working in a structured/policy-oriented work environment or a more dynamic work environment?

Rule-conscious: Individuals who score closer towards the rule-conscious end of the scale are most likely to answer that they prefer a structured environment with established policies. Given that these individuals are strict followers of rules and principles, they respect authority and uphold standards, their ideal work environment would reflect that through its organizational structure and its subsequent policies, procedures and rules.

Non-conforming: Individuals who score closer towards the non-conforming end of the scale are most likely to answer that they prefer a fast-paced and dynamic work environment where policies, procedures and rules are frequenlty changing. They will likely highlight their need for autonomy and flexibility and their preference for a workplace environment that places limited attention on a fixed way of doing things.

Question pool:

3. Tell me about a time when your manager handed you a task and gave you little or no direction. What was that like for you?

4. Tell me about a time when you felt it would benefit the situation to disregard structure or formal processes to achieve a better outcome. What were the circumstances? How did it turn out?

5. Tell me about a time when you had to step away from traditional methods to solve a difficult or complex problem. Can you describe your approach? What was the outcome?

6. Tell me about a time you knew you were right, but still had to follow directions or guidelines.

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