1999: I was a sysadmin at an ISP in Austin. One day we had a tour come through, people looking to see if they wanted to colo in our datacenter. In walks in the former CEO and most of the technical staff from the Oklahoma City-based ISP I'd started my career at and left in '96. We laughed, shook hands.. and they headhunted me away a couple months later with a 200% salary increase for their new Austin-based startup.
2015: interviewing for a remote sysadmin position at a firm in California. They knew of me through some mailing lists I've run for a couple of decades. A couple of interviews in, I mention that I'd need to get off early on Thursdays to attend Lodge as I was a Freemason. Turns out two other execs interviewing me were also Masons. It certainly didn't hurt my job prospects.. And then after I started the CEO
asked "Weren't you mr_bill on efnet #unix IRC in the 90s?" I gulped and said "Yeah..." and he said "Cool! I was on there too..."
And, at my current job, after I got hired, my team lead said "Yeah, (other coworker) said you were cool and said you'd fit in well here..." - turns out the other coworker was another EFNet IRC buddy that I'd never met in person..
So, never lie about a contact or reference and never burn bridges if you can avoid it - you never know when someone from your past may be in a position to influence your future.
Which is a pain when I'm looking for it, but vaguely reassuring otherwise; unless the government or the site-owners themselves are after you, much of that stuff isn't coming back.
(2) Most of the things that he's listed are merits. Being involved in his community, having a strong verifiable previous job history with good references, etc.
(3) Having a good job history, making friends, and being involved in online and offline communities are not things limited to white males.
Also, yes, good job histories, friends and communities are not limited to white males. But they have a strong component of inertia: if those communities, jobs and friend networks have something in common (e.g., gender) it is only normal that they attract persons with that trait and therefore the bias persists. Changing that is difficult and takes time and effort.
They've opened up slightly in response to pressure, and there are some female freemasons, but it's still pretty exclusive.
The Knights of Columbus was formed as a "Catholic equivalent of Freemasonry", basically.
Edit: changed a couple of words to make my point clearer.
Perhaps this observation has more to do with location and culture than it does industry.
>but it's still pretty exclusive.
Catholics are a juggernaut, the global leader in that market. I'd say it was required strategy in order to avoid a squeeze-out.
1.) We laughed, shook hands and they headhunted me away
The headhunt started on very little information - basically on how he laugh and shakes of hand. Had likely proved himself later, but it was all was on instant first impression - where biases matter most.
How is that related to merit in tech? Yes, similar "we have thing in common" bias happen everywhere (and may advantage women in other context), but is not merit. Had he be a women that got hired on sewing hobby or membership in feminist organization, it would still not be meritocracy.
3.) making friends, and being involved in online and offline communities are not things limited to white males
Absolutely, in other context it would advantage women or whoever. However, they advantage people with same hobbies and interests as whoever is already in. They are not merit in any meaningful sense of word, just like call of duty is not merit or world of warcraft is not merit.
I am not saying that any of it is some horrible act or happens only in tech. It is not. Neither is it merit no matter how much tech people like to pretend real world is meritocracy.
No, they already had a previous relation: "[...] from the Oklahoma City-based ISP I'd started my career at and left in '96" (emphasis added). Given mrbill had worked for/with them (three years prior), they definitely had much more information than just a first impression.
At least read the comment before trying to troll. They headhunted him because he had already worked for them. It's hard to get more information than that.
We are talking highly technical people, what merit did OP not have?
It sounded like OP had 2 decades of experience in his niche.
I really dont care if I hire men, women, or any race. I really dont. As long as you show up and get the job done, wonderful. Many people disappoint and my current contractor is a white male, and I dont care.
2.) I am saying that non-meritoratio properties gives an individual advantage over other individuals with the same merit. That does not mean that former is stupid or incapable. It just means that real world if more messy then we like to pretend.
A person in a niche has the requirements to get hired. They 'knew' someone from 20 years of working in this field.
At what point does it no longer become merit? They met the person at work, working on tech. Its not like they were born into it.
Also, I highly doubt 'same merit' is a thing in the tech world(especially among programmers). Programmers are rare and expensive, I doubt HR is choosy when it comes to these things. They have a difficult enough time filling positions.
However, to clarify, some of those were ppl he never met (but eventually did). Ultimately it's about trust. That is, can I trust this person can do the job __and__ work with the team.
People who are not will to "put themselves out there" are going to be at a disadvantage. Not all doors open easily. Too need to be knocked on again and again and again.
In a way, some of the examples actually provide hope.
Or, do women with hiring authority just not preferentially hire contacts from social clubs? (A good test case: are there as many “same sorority” coworkers as “same fraternity” coworkers, in proportion to the number of each gender with hiring authority in that company?)
Or, do women just end up in fewer positions with hiring authority?
Junior Leagues are great example of women's social groups that are quite influential. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Junior_League
Freemasonry is a collection of locally-run fraternities. There is no overarching masonic organization or top-down command structure, it's all done by the local lodge, which may or may not be affiliated with other lodges. They are all "Masonry" because they use the same rough template of traditions and rituals, passed down from earlier inductees (this is a simplification of course; there are different traditions within masonry called "rites", etc., etc.). Because their meetings are closed to the public, and because membership in such organizations is relatively rare these days, wild speculation occurs.
They don't have a mission other than to be good citizens, help their communities, and help each other. A few generations back, belonging to "the lodge" was an expectation for most permanent members of the community, and many community activities and services were effectively brokered by them. The rise of "lodge doctors" in the early 20th century is a good example.
You might see lodges designated "AF&AM" or "F&AM" - that dates back to a minor schism long ago where you had the "Antient Free & Accepted Masons" vs the "Free & Accepted Masons" - all that boils down to these days is minor differences in ritual and ceremonies. That's one of the nice things about visiting lodges in other states - to see how they do things differently!
You'll also see "Prince Hall" lodges - these are the Masonic equivalent of Historically Black Colleges & Universities. Nowdays, a white man can join an PH lodge, a Black man can join an AF&AM lodge, and so forth - and one thing I'm glad to see recently in Texas is that while we've had "recognition" between PH & the AF&AM lodges for over a decade now, we finally have "visitation" - where I can sit in an official meeting at a PH Lodge without having to officially request a visit through the Texas GL, and so on and so forth. This is the way it should have been for a long time, but honestly it took waiting for a lot of old racist guys to die off before we got to this point. Some states still don't have full recognition/visitation between the two and it's really upsetting (mostly in the Deep South).
We're basically a fraternal society with some secrets (all of which you can find out with the right Google searches) - we're not a "Secret Society". A lot of the secrets are just passwords, modes of recognition, and so forth. Stuff that boils down to (in my opinion) "If you can't trust your Brother to keep these simple secrets, can you trust him with anything else?"
Shortest simplest explanation: a bunch of guys who hang out once or twice a week and have a fancy dress meeting once a month, to get away from the wives, have dinner, BS and catch up with each other, and do some good for the community in whatever ways we can. We're there for each other, and anyone else that might need help that we can provide. There's really no "secret advantage" to being a Mason that's different than having friends who own businesses in "normal life" - at one time I joked that my Masonic tattoo might get me a discount on an oil change and I could get cupcakes at wholesale...
There's no "Illuminati" or world-running society. How can you expect us to run the world when sometimes we can't even decide what to serve for dinner?
It's really no different than belonging to any other social organization. My Brethren kept me sane and alive after my wife passed away in 2009 - I'd be sitting here at home alone, would get a phone call. "Hey we're here at Lodge cooking for the meeting on Wednesday, want to come hang?" "Nah, I'm okay, thanks." Five minutes later the phone would ring. "Bill, this is the Worshipful Master, if you're not here in 15 minutes I'm sending a truck full of guys to haul your ass up here.." They knew I needed to be around other people and to be distracted. (the WM is basically the elected president of the lodge for each year)
The "Degrees" of Freemasonry:
- you go through a ceremony
- you memorize a series of questions and answers that explain the ceremony you went through
- you present your "proficiency" in that degree - reciting the questions and answers - in front of an open lodge. The members of the Lodge then vote on your proficiency.
- Once you prove proficiency, then you progress to the next degree ritual/ceremony.
There are three degrees:
1st Degree: Entered Apprentice
2nd Degree: Fellow Craft
3rd Degree: Master Mason
The ceremonies and ritual are based around the allegory of the craftsmen that built King Solomon's Temple, although you don't have to be a Christian. All that's required is a belief in a higher power, and you swear your ritual oaths on the "Holy Book" of your choosing. I had friends joke that I should have used the Sun Field Engineer Handbook for mine :D
Once you're a Master Mason, you're a full member of your Lodge and entitled to vote on new member applicants, other people's proficiencies, hold office in the Lodge, and so forth.
If you hear someone referring to a "32nd Degree Mason", that means they joined the appendant body of Scottish Rite Masonry, which is just some "add on" degrees and ceremonies and another Lodge to attend meetings with! It doesn't mean that 32nd degree is "Better" than someone who is just a plain Master Mason.
If you hear of somone who is a 33rd Degree Mason - that means they have been awarded that 33rd Degree in the Scottish Rite due to great and long years of service to the Masonic community and their community at large; it's an honorary thing (think of it like an honorary college degree). There's also the York Rite degrees, but I'm not as informed in those. Those guys have big feathers on their hats and carry swords in their rituals.
Interesting, so it's not an ancient society but a modern one fully cognisant of its fiction? I thought Masonry was founded on a real belief that it was a successor through time of a group of actual people building an actual temple.
Is it in the records of your society who created the fiction and why they based it on Jewish history?
It's funny, it's kinda the reverse of Welsh culture where the current form of Eisteddfod and druidic tradition is verifiably an invention of 20th C but everyone behaves as if it's pre-Roman Celtic history.
A general overview of the topic: http://www.themasonictrowel.com/Articles/History/origin_file...
I belonged to Blue Lodge #24 in South Dakota. I was elevated unusually rapidly to Master Mason to coincide with a visit from the Grand Master. I feel like it was way too fast; so much so that I didn't properly learn everything, in my opinion. I moved away from the area, lost touch with the lodge, and fell out of Freemasonry entirely.
That was about ten years ago.
Now I'm curious about connecting with a lodge locally here in Minneapolis, but I have no idea what my status would be. By tradition I'm still a Master Mason, but by learning I'm a novice. I don't even remember the proper greetings.
What should I do?
I'd suggest contacting a few local lodges and get to know the members before you commit to one. You have to feel comfortable with the makeup and ambiance of the lodge just like any social group. You will almost certainly need to be proposed and seconded again as a joining member.
Finally recognise that while you have completed your three degree ceremonies it is expected that there is still a lot for you to learn in freemasonry. The ritual most commonly used in England suggests you to 'make a daily advancement in masonic knowledge' and you are taught the masonic ceremonies are 'veiled in allegory' meaning they are meant to be gradually understood over time as you see them repeated for new candidates, and by taking part yourself in the various officer roles in the Lodge. Don't feel bad that it was too fast - yes it's disappointing that you ended up in that situation, but even without it, masonry is not meant to be understood in one go. Don't be hard on yourself.
I wasn't 100% when I turned mine in, but they passed me anyway - after many hours of studying and working with others, they knew I KNEW it, but just froze up a bit during the official presentation.
I'd had some extenuating circumstances (wife passing away, etc) and was running up against the time limit to prove MM prof (otherwise we would have had to file papers with GL to ask for an extension, etc). I was told "We KNOW you know it, we're going to pass you, but promise me you'll get at least a C certificate when you can." The certifications are basically the Masonic equivalent of "teacher certifications" that prove you know the work 100% backwards and forwards.
In Texas, none of the work is ever written down (its all by word of mouth). At least in my Lodge, nobody ever gets to the "sit in Lodge to prove proficiency" stage without spending hours and hours working with others and the Deacons have already unofficially "passed" you - the sitting in Lodge for it is just a formality at that point.
In England there are multiple rituals in common practice and there isn't a move to formally standardise, mainly from the fact there were lodges operating before Grand Lodge was formed. The most common in use is Emulation Ritual which was designed to emulate the majority of the work done by lodges at the time the two English Grand Lodges merged. You can buy copies of the ritual freely, but various parts are obscured in shorthand so as not to divulge too much.
The Certificates I refer to are completely separate from proficiency - they're "add-on" exams / certifications from Grand Lodge that show you've learned the work 100% backwards and forwards. I think GLoTX now requires an A certificate for anyone moving up to WM.
I do have to say I love the formality of dress/uniform from the Scottish and English brethren that have visited my Lodge. Makes me feel way underdressed. :) One of the things I was told when first inquiring about joining was that "We care more about the man inside than their exterior, we're not going to reject or kick anyone out simply because they don't have a suit and tie or a tux. Wear the best clothes you've got, we'd rather you be here, period."
There's sometimes that I have to go straight to Lodge from work and I'm wearing shorts and a t-shirt - I get the feeling that would be scandalous in an English lodge (I do wear slacks and a polo shirt when possible).
We do now require jacket and tie for anyone participating in a part in a degree ceremony, though.
I love being the Secretary in an EA - we have a certain bit that's specific to Texas and Louisiana that I started adding a little flourish to, that's become tradition at my Lodge :D
Normal lodge dress code is a dark suit and black tie (or the relevant masonic tie). Some lodges like mine are Dinner Jackets (Tuxedo). Provincial and Grand Officers wear a 3 piece morning suit (striped trousers with a black waistcoat and jacket).
My lodge is meeting tonight so I'm sat at work with my DJ trousers and a white shirt on and my DJ jacket in a suit carrier.
I agree that the man is more important than the exterior, but the way we view things over here is that it's not much to afford a black suit nowadays, and it means everyone looks more or less 'uniform' and therefore on the level. Culturally we tend be rather formal over here anyway.
We once held a meeting on the same night as a carol service in our local cathedral, so we were told that we were just going to open and close the lodge and open the festive board more like a ladies evening and DJ wasn't necessary due to the service, just wear a lounge suit. I wore a black suit as per normal, but with an orange tie and that caused quite a stir!
They will not make you go through the degrees again - but you can surely observe others if you like, and the new local Brethren can help you get caught up on all of the modes of recognition and so forth.
People "going away" from Masonry for decades, and then coming back, is not uncommon at all, and nobody will look badly at you for it. Especially if you say "I felt like my degrees were rushed, and I'd like to learn more".
At least in Denmark, they're founded in Christianity, so while I've known a fair few Masons, some family even. I've turned down all invitations to join. I'm not even fulfilling all requirements because I'm not a member of the church.
As for Prince Hall Masonry yes there was racial segregation in America, but nowadays most State Grand Lodges recognise each other with a few hold outs in the deep south.
Beyond masons, there are the elks, the moose, and in parts of the West Clampers.
Each have their lodges, their rituals, and focus. I started the mason path, but life got busy. I’m a Moose member and a Clamper.
In all cases, the focus is community. In most cases, and this is what I appreciate, you are dealing with people across the spectrum of jobs/backgrounds/and economics.
And aren't modern day hackers the very descendants of the original Freemasons? You know, the ones that actually had to build (and rebuild) Rome.
Historically, secular fraternities like the Freemasons played a big role in keeping mixed-denomination communities communal, instead of fracturing off into hard, non-fluid segments. I would conjecture that we owe a lot of our cultural religious tolerance to the foundations of trust and community laid in the Masonic lodges of yore.
IMO it's a shame that these groups are not very widely established anymore (at least among "younger" people, who are now becoming "older" people). These fraternities do a great deal to help adults, families, and whole communities.
The only reason I haven't personally seriously inquired into joining such a group is that I'm already in a very active church community that covers most of the Masonic functions, and I have enough trouble just keeping up with that. I'd miss too many lodge meetings, etc.
For anyone who is floating or looking for a consistent community to anchor against, that will be there as an instant community even if you move around, Freemasonry or similar orgs are really worth investigating.
I guess people in the past had more free time to spend on non-work activities like this.
It means that a freemason have to hold contradictory positions as true. One might be an atheist by one cannot reject the so-called supreme being, one might belong to an Abrahamic religion but one cannot reject the Hindu pantheon. And within the Abrahamic religions it's more contentious than anything.
It's an expression of the Orwellian "2 + 2 = 5", and it's a very dangerous anti-realist totalitarian ideology, and it should be rejected whether you're a theist or an atheist.
In ceremony/ritual we refer generally to "The Grand Architect of the Universe", instead of any specific diety.
BTW, Freemasonry is NOT intended to be a religion nor a replacement for one, and we don't want to be. We just use symbols and allegory that relate to the story of the building of King Solomon's Temple.
Seems too broad to really be helpful in this discussion. The park in Chinatown where people gather to play xiangqi is a "third place" but nothing like a church or Masonic lodge.
The "new guys" or people who are interested hang out in our cafeteria, get a tour of the building, etc, and just ask questions, get to know the guys, and so forth. We encourage guys to explore different Lodges and find the one they feel fits them best (each group of men has a different personality and so forth). After hanging out with us for a while, if we think they'll be a good fit, we'll send them home with a "petition" (application).
The petition is filled out sorta like a job application, and permission is given to run background checks (because they might end up as the lodge Secretary and in charge of money and such someday), etc. In addition, a petition must be signed by three Masons basically saying "I have faith in this applicant".
Once a petition is submitted, at the next Stated Meeting, the Worshipful Master (president of the lodge) assigns an "Investigative Committee" of three men to interview the candidate separately. Usually this happens at their home, so we can also talk to their spouse/significant other, see if being a member of the Lodge is going to cause any hardship at home, and so forth.
Once the Investigative Committe has made a decision, at the next stated meeting they present a "positive" or "negative". If negative, no further action is taken and the candidate can't re-apply for membership within a year (I think, I'd have to look it up). If positive, the members of the lodge vote on the candidate.
Voting is done via "secret ballot", basically a wooden box with two chambers. One is full of black and white balls, with a hole leading to the second chamber. Each person votes anonymously by going up to the box, taking a ball, and putting it in the chamber. White balls mean "yes", black balls mean "no" (this is where the term "blackballed" comes from). The voting box is then shown to the WM and the Deacons. If all white, "the result is favorable", the candidate has been Elected to Receive the Degrees of Masonry, and they're contacted with the good news. If there's a single black ball, or some sort of contention, there VERY OCCASSIONALLY might be a re-vote. Otherwise the candidate cannot repetition a Texas lodge for at least a year. If more than three black balls are present, then that candidate cannot ever reapply to become a Mason, because it means that at least three people thought badly enough of him to "blackball" him from the fraternity.
Once someone is notified that they've been elected to receive the degrees, the next step will be to schedule their initiation ceremony and collect their degree fees. (Lodges collect fees for each degree ceremony, to cover things like your formal apron, a Bible or other book presented when you become a Master Mason, etc, and just to keep the lights on). Once someone becomes a Master Mason, then it's just a yearly dues payment. I think ours is now $175, but I got in before a price hike a few years ago and bought an "endowed", or lifetime membership. I paid under $1K at the time and that basically covered my dues until I die or move to a different state - as mentioned before, Masonry in the US only goes up to the state level, and each state "recognizes" the others as official.
I only ask because of the religous aspect of the organization. I know a lot of the youth are not very religous (compared to previous generations).
I really like the community aspect, but the ties to christianity would definitely be a blocker for a lot of people i know age 20-30
You'll find "clandestine" lodges (that just set up on their own, of their own authority) or claiming to be under the purview of a "Continental" Grand Lodge / "national" level GL that do stuff like allow women in, but if you join one of those Lodges, normal AF&AM/F&AM lodges will not recognize you as a fellow member or as a legitimate Mason.
"regular" Masonry has the Order of the Eastern Star, which is sort of the "Women's Auxiliary" of Masonry and has some similar rituals and ceremonies and so forth; it allows both women and men to be members.
Masonry is founded on 3 principles; Brotherly Love, Relief and Truth which can be loosely thought of as Friendship, Charity and Self Actualisation via being a good citizen / considering your role in society. Through tradition it is a necessary requirement that you have a belief in a Supreme Being, but in most jurisdictions, that belief doesn't necessarily have to conform to any prescribed or organised religion and the Supreme Being is referred to non-specific ways such as The Great Architect of the Universe. Conversations around Religion and Politics are forbidden in English lodges as they are the two main topics which divide men.
All prospective members have to express an interest in joining, and in some jurisdictions that can mean anything from the extreme of having to ask 3 times before being acknowledged, to in my own jurisdiction, you can sign post you are a Freemason and what it's about, and wait to see if they express an interest in finding out more.
As the worlds oldest and largest fraternity we have a lot of tradition and there are 3 ceremonies that every new member goes through. These are allegorical and are a bit strange to understand at first, but certainly nothing to worry about. All the rumours of nefarious deeds and devil worshipping etc are a load of crap (and I say that as the current Worshipful Master of my lodge who is about to be appointed as a Provincial Officer).
If you are looking for friendship with people from all walks of life, enjoy tradition and ceremony and consider yourself a good man (or woman, as there are lady masons too in England under a ladies only Grand Lodge), then freemasonry might be for you. On the flip side, at least in my jurisdiction, freemasonry is dying off as the older members age and less younger people join. Freemasonry has just celebrated 300 years of the formation of the world's oldest Grand Lodge. Freemasonry will keep going for many years, but in the future it will consolidate.
He had wanted me to get involved with Demolay (the "under-18" boys club that's sort of a Junior Masons) but I'd never had time - and I worked 36 hours a week after school during high school.
I finally started looking into Masonry in 2008, and had a few friends who were members. They helped me with pointers, I joined a lodge here in Houston, and on my birthday in 2009 was finally Raised to the Sublime Degree of Master Mason. It was a proud moment - and afterwards I was able to put on one of my grandfather's Masonic rings with a tear in my eye. I know he would have been proud.
I'm happy to have been able to be that "helpful friend" for a couple more people I know who have since joined the fraternity.
I probably wouldn’t care about an American candidate, but I would never consider hiring someone who turns out to be a European Freemason any more than I would hire a neo-nazi.
This does not belong on Hacker News. Flagged.
If this is the tech business rolls what I see that it wants developers with a history, with connections, with "clout" so to speak; doesn't matter if you can help their business immensely, or fit to the position they are listing for. And this attitude is really really paradoxical. Like you are not searching for a candidate with required skillset but an ideal candidate with required skillset with glowing references. Because why take the risk? Like having a glowing history prevents anything happening...
Anyway imho what you are trying to gauge from a job interview is how good that guy/gal is. And I'm sure if that guy did say "I am an newly trained man with no relevant job history" he wouldn't go into the interview stage even though he knows his stuff for his application. I mean if he failed that, I'd say "okay this guy is trying to scam this company" but no, he is able and informed about the position he is applying to. And that's totally irrelevant from the text I am reading. Which is bonkers if you pardon my french.
This text also reminded me of a quote from Neil Gaiman, he faked his references for his first job and then he worked to create those references(https://singjupost.com/full-transcript-neil-gaiman-commencem...). In his words he was "chronologically challenged". So if he was trying to be a writer in our modern times, we wouldn't have a Neil Gaiman.
From my own limited interview experience: companies reject you for the silliest things, in my opinion and I have decided that I need to deceive in order for my value to be seen in the right manner. It might be the case I'm arrogant, but I also notice that people who had a computer science education at the same uni as I went to are the only ones to actually evaluate in the right way. Whenever I get interviewed by non CS people at startups they just evaluate it as I did some rote learning psychology-esque degree, which is next to useless according to them.
So yes, I should deceive those people in that I have more working experience than I do, because uni gave me part of that working experience but there is no chance in hell that they would believe that. I know this to be true because the jobs that I did get, I performed well at, according to the people who hired me.
And somehow people always seem to be a bit surprised. People always seem to be a bit surprised when a CS graduate in general works out. I just find it silly, CS in Amsterdam is not that math heavy and it is programming heavy, what do you expect?
 50% of my psych. degree (2nd bachelor, I'm Dutch) required a lot of rote learning. One third of the degree was statistics / academic writing, the rest were electives.
The two parent comments fall under the general umbrella of complaining about job listings requiring too much experience which is a standard point of contention against employers on HN. Leaving "20 years required low latency python experience with executive level leadership experience to manage our old undocumented report writing application" listings written by incompetent HR people out of the picture, there is plenty of valid monetary reasoning why a company would try to minimize its Type I error (that is hard to do, and nobody complaining seems to have any cogent solution). There are more than plenty of jobs an overconfident new grad who is good at interviewing and fibbing on his resume will fail at where a developer with several years of experience bringing projects into production is a much safer option. That is not disproved by singular anecdotal evidence of "I lied on my resume but I did do a good job so their hiring bar filtered out most of the good candidates and it isn't fair!".
However, most people reading this are employees, not employers, and have been burned by this in some way or another, so I'm going to get downvoted.
Employees want to get rich, employers want free work from overqualified candidates so they get rich. People usually try to pick what they think at the time is the best option available to them, job or candidate.
So, on an individual basis, no, I would not want to hire that person out of an abundance of caution, but on a broader basis I would not like the pressure to do such a thing to exist to begin with. It's like crime: You want to punish each individual crimes, but you also want policies that lower crime rates, and that does not mean that you "reward crime" or that you "give in to criminals".
We all know the hiring process has some seriously broken elements, so a desperate candidate may feel pressured and justified to do so because the other side does not play nice or rational either - plus pressure from society "it's all your own fault" (if you don't succeed, and you won't get any help from anyone unless you happen to be lucky enough to have the right parents). Here in Germany we just had another (it's a regular thing) headline about "skilled labor shortage in IT" in all major German newspapers. Strange thing is, salaries for skilled workers (engineers, CS) have not risen significantly in a loooong time. Since salaries are not regulated by law that means the companies are lying. Of course, I still would prefer people who don't use a wider development as justification for lying themselves (mismatch of scale/perspective), but I can see and would expect a broader (downward) trend from there.
Or back to (and finishing) the crime example, if you create an environment of immense pressure, bad chances for improvement, etc. and then you compensate for the increase in crimes by punishing people harder (and harder)... sure, some might say it's all justified, why did they commit a crime? That is an interesting example why looking at each case individually may lead to a very different conclusion compared to looking at a broader picture.
Another example is cheating at universities. Individually every student who does it may deserve punishment, but it would be a good idea to look at the reasons for why it's so widespread. You create pressure, something is going to happen on the other end.
The guy mentioned in the OP wasn't experiencing any additional pressure beyond "I need a job"; he wasn't in some high stress boiler style interview (the interview actually sounds like just casual conversation), it was just that his resume, that he sent everywhere prior to any interview, was filled with lies.
It's not the interview process that was messed up here, it's that in response to the basic competitive nature of "there is one job opening and multiple applicants, and, oh, yeah, we need someone who knows their stuff", he decided to lie about his experience. If that basic arrangement is somehow at fault, rather than this one guy who lied, then you're questioning not the nature of interviews, but the nature of jobs in a free market.
The pressure exists because the opportunities to do anything are scarce. We force people into the hands of BAD practices and even psychopaths, and because this is so one-sided there won't be a turn for the better in practices and behavior. The mechanism that is supposed to lead to better outcomes overall is broken.
Strangely enough, we actually have plenty to do! From social work or just cleaning up, stuff that anyone can do, to "scientific stuff".
You may say that people don't want to do the low-level jobs because status, income etc. - but I think that this is an excuse:
In ALL discussions the TOOL - finance, money - is seen as the thing to optimize. The tool has taken over the workshop! In ANY discussion about anything wrong people immediately start talking about "money". Which is very strange, because
1) money is purely an idea, for the society as a whole just inventing new "money" if there really should be scarcity somewhere that prevents work from being done is as easy as snipping fingers (we have done that in the trillions not long ago). (Don't point to "inflation!", because a) that's again talking about the tool, and b) as I said, if shortage of money that prevents work from being done.)
2) we have completely forgotten the whole purpose! The the tool has to serve humanity, not the other way around! If we find places where there are issues that need to be solved, how can the tool be the limiting factor? If we find it to be we need to do use a different tool for THAT SPECIFIC thing (Note: I'm not black/white, "Oh I found A problem, let's throw everything out. Of course, keep the tool for the places where it does work well.)
For example: Copyright, patents. Those things don't serve humanity, they serve the TOOL! Humanity would be better off if you say "Oh my god we are sooo lucky - copying stuff is free" (as in "real costs", not money). So let everybody use any knowledge they want, read, watch, listen to anything they want. YES the tool "money" does not allow that, "How would creators get paid?!" If the tool does not do the job we need a different tool! It is obvious that apart from "money" considerations the world would indeed be better off with free stuff being free. We have a HUGE amount of effort to limit the distribution of stuff that's actually free, completely artificially. Because we take care of the tool, the "money", pretending that it is the end-all.
To add a very quick and therefore necessarily even more incomplete proposal than it really is in my head (which is incomplete enough):
First, I'm against a UBI. Doing nothing at all may work in a different context, with different culture, maybe we'll get there some day. If we did it right now it would not work.
On the other hand, when we use the tool "money" we ignore the HUGE cost of SPENDING: Maybe because of inequality (I don't know the reason), but people are very, very reluctant to spend. That means other people have a hard time making money. I think money circulation, the flow, is far less than it should be, maybe not globally (huge company problems are not my concern), but for the vast majority of the world population. If you are concerned that more spending is not possible because there is not enough money, well, a) see above, b) it's a circle! As I just wrote, when people have it easier to spend others will get more.
As one concrete example, imagine a lot of huge companies got together and instead of each building their own, they build ONE big subscription service, for everything available in "binary". Everybody can get a subscription - and gains access to everything. What is "everything": Every website, from news websites to blogs to Github(!!!) can sign up and offer access only to those who have a subscription. Github, for example, can offer all those maintainers of free packages (I was one of them, a PITA) money. Distribution of money is according to use. The more people read a blog, a new site, or download/use Github packages the more they get.
This solves the problem of the spending threshold: People already pay, now they don't need to think each and every time "Do I want to pay another dollar for this or that?" (in the case of Github packages and many others that's not even an option!). On the other hand, by bundling it all, they also don't need to be concerned if a certain payment is worth it.
Obviously there are LOTS of "details" such as how do you track usage and protect against people using download bots to increase there numbers. However, we already have all those problems, and more! All that anti-copyright, anti-ad-blocking, anti-this-or-that effort, from software, hardware (Blueray encryption as example), to legal efforts.
Just one suggestion. I do NOT think or propose THE ONE solution for everything. That is exactly the problem! Humans find something that works in some cases, now they start using it everywhere unthinkingly! "Money" for example. It works very well in some cases! But very badly in others. We need many solutions, tailored to the specific problem.
Forget "money", solve the actual problem instead! If "money" looks useful, then use it. Yes today it's used for everything. That's a huge part of the problem! At the very least, maybe we should have many "moneys" and not just one. Too many completely different and independent things are artificially coupled.
Also, the state should fulfill it's role as a "guardian of last resort". People should not be afraid all the time. I know I am, and I'm well educated and work in IT in a rich country that actually even still has a social network (Germany; I worked in the US for almost a decade though, Silicon Valley). Also, don't force people into "finance" (e.g. "you have to save for retirement, you need to invest"). This is completely against how humanity works: Specialization! This "investment" stuff is a smart idea of people making a living in the monetary sector itself, to have the government force people to send more income their way.
Something similar - a fund - for everybody else!
Anyone doing anything useful, like sweeping the street, gets money. But everybody is free to decide what it is. There must be a usefulness measure, "I cleaned my teeth" or "I walked through my garden"... hmmm. So let's add a provision that a number of people have to sign off on the activity as useful, then you get paid.
This lowers the threshold: Nobody needs to decide "I pay for this street to be swept clean" (which is very high!), and nobody needs to sign up to work for others who themselves sell your services for much more money and get rich ("entrepreneurs" employing cleaners, for example).
I think THIS would be a lot more "capitalistic" than what we have: People deciding for themselves not just what they want to offer, but also what they find useful, instead of letting a very small handful of "entrepreneurs" do it for everybody. Yes yes, "the market", but the market does not work! We have a bottleneck.
There could (should!) be a bonus when people self-organize and do something together instead of doing something on their own. Entire "virtual temporary companies" are possible! Give people the ability and necessity to make decisions, which for most people in what is called "market" is not the case at all. My proposal has more "market" in it than the current one, while lowering the transaction costs significantly, and taking out middle men.
That sort of behavior can be pretty poisonous for whole team.
EDIT: someone that spends that much effort lying has a good chance of being a sociopath.
Also this is a sales position; not being overly detailed about the product's occasional quirk is not an on the job problem... if the applicant can talk a good talk and behave in a professional manner there doesn't seem to be an issue. Classic philosophical religious debate for centuries, is it more important to have right behavior or right thoughts?
If he makes a big mistake he will lie about it to avoid getting fired just as surely as he lied to get the job.
Citing Neil Gaiman -- or some other celebrity -- doesn't do anything to make this less true.
So are you saying that in all your interviews you've had in the past you've been absolutely, positively 100% truthful about your experience and knowledge? That you've never inflated your abilities whatsoever?
Besides, that's not even the issue. This guy just flat out lied. Not exaggerated, he told lies and built upon them. There's no excuse for that.
While one can sympathize if they choose to work from the presupposition that our candidate is in the unlikely-but-not-totally-unrealistic circumstance of being capable but "steal bread to eat" desperate, it's a pretty hard sell to expect someone without a pre-existing relationship to excuse that type of behavior when it gets caught out like this.
Same in this situation. He might lie, fabricate, and make facts to push his agenda. This might work depending on what your line of work is doing (ie: maybe you are shady call center anyway). But this might be dangerous if you require complete discipline and this might blow up later (see Uber).
But here is the issue: The guy was rejected based on an emotional response from the hiring guy. He just felt defeated by the skillfulness of the guy. We don't know where the OP operates, so that is that.
This kind of thing can end badly. I worked with a guy who was kicked out of two companies (first for fiddling expenses and second for faking his CV on a grand scale) and ended up sentenced to 64 months in prison for fraud.  He fooled a lot of very smart people along the way. I still don't fully understand why he did it--he was a smart guy and didn't need to cut corners to be very successful.
p.s. I don't have a CS degree and finished my BA/History going to extension school part-time while serving in the US military.
p.p.s, If you have a less-than-honorable discharge you'll also have a tough time getting through the interview process with me.
The glowing references doesn't do anything that skill and personality screening doesn't in terms of assessing actual candidate skill. They do, however, provide a ton of ass-covering for the hiring manager.
When you make it to the top by lying, you're considered a winner:
> "I lied to him all the way to the airport," Cohn told Gladwell. "When he said, 'Do you know what an option is?' I said, 'Of course I do, I know everything, I can do anything for you.' Basically by the time we got out of the taxi, I had his number. He said, 'Call me Monday.' I called him Monday, flew back to New York Tuesday or Wednesday, had an interview, and started working the next Monday.
I know there are dozens of other examples, because I hear people talk about how they had to lie to get their first break all the damn time, from people who are now very successful.
> In that period of time, I read McMillan's "Options as a Strategic Investment"book. It's like the Bible of options trading."
Which is pretty laudable.
An even extraordinary example would be the current president of the united states, which still manages to lie, and people still support him.
I am not a crook. - Nixon
Read my lips, I will not raise taxes it wouldn’t be prudent. - H.W. Bush
I did not have sexual relations with that woman. - Clinton
We found the weapons of mass destruction. - G.W. Bush
If you like your health plan, you can keep it. - Obama
If the person can answer all my questions and they have a good attitude, I honestly don't give a shit what got them to that point.
If someone doesn't work out, you can fire them. Yes it's "exhausting", maybe if it's so difficult to manage or run a business you should find a different role for yourself.
I really enjoy hiring personally. I treat it like a two way street instead of "I'm the big boss man with all the power". I remember how I was recruited out of college, I show that same interest in the employee as I want them to show in their career (note, not my company, I'm 100% okay with someone just coming in and doing a good job, not being in fucking love with my product, industry or anything else all these bullshit companies seem to offer).
On the other hand I made tons of personal projects in junior high and high school so I had plenty to show during my first interviews.
The fact that you get plenty of offers probably means you're not in the situation where someone would consider lying to get a job.
Edit: Not trying to criticize you, I'm just trying to point out why you might be an exceptional candidate. But I guess your original point was just that "not everyone" lies, so I suppose I'm just saying that I agree with what you're saying. It's true that not literally everyone lies, but many many people exaggerate, even if they don't tell outright lies.
I am clueless about certain things and perhaps this is one of them... but really? Outright lies of pure red-handed snake-oil fiction?
Surely there must be a line between the "HR speak" most must sing along to and reality that does not qualify as pure uncut straight-up lies.
Help me understand what you mean.
I have to agree with the other poster: I think nearly everyone lies, it's just a matter of what they lie about, and how much. Don't forget that "lies of omission" are still lies. You're not going to get far by being completely truthful about everything. I was lucky that my educational background and work experience have been good (and of course that I come from the right socioeconomic background for this kind of work), but there's other places where I've had to be less than honest (like "why did you leave this job?"). I'm sure just about everyone is the same way to some extent.
But when I say I worked at $place and did $thing with $technology, they want to me to mostly truthful. They understand there is some embellishing or generalizing, but an outright falsehood is a major violation of expectations.
HR speak is about giving the desired answer, regardless if it is true, mostly true, or a straight up lie. In some way it is seen as an justifiable reason to lie where as most other lying is not considered justifiable.
So if someone answers all your questions and have good attitude but then steals company data that can be end of your career in the company as well. Because maybe you were his friend in crime...
If someone asks you "why did you leave this job?" for a place where things didn't go very well (suppose you had a terrible manager there), are you going to be completely honest and slam your former employer, or are you going to just say something about how "I wasn't being challenged enough" or something like that and found something better? You do realize that candidates who trash former employers are much less likely to be hired, right?
If he had passed all the interviews and when time came said he lied because he knew he can do it but without lying he wouldn't be able to get through the door, he would have probably gotten the job, at least on a probationary basis.
But doing what he did means he's completely untrustworthy. That's not something you'd want in an employee.
Same guy found a mobile phone and rang some random number in Australia. Ran up a massive toll bill talking to strangers, and ditched the phone.
Last I heard, he'd got into med school. As you might observe, I'm not sure this is an appropriate field for someone of his ethical caliber.
Hopefully he's grown up a lot since then, but if he hasn't I can't imagine that kind of stupidity could be hidden forever.
As an example, I just upvoted your comment that I'm replying to. Turn on "showdead" in your profile and you will see what I'm referring to.
I wouldn't trust social profile hunting as a real gauge for anyone's abilities. I know plenty of good coders that don't have github accounts because they aren't involved in open source at all. There are plenty of recruiters that don't know linkedin because they have other sources that fill their pipelines. There are people that build out their profiles specifically for job searches. There are others that won't build out a profile at all.
As far as back-channel references go, I'm not a fan. I expect references to be minimal because giving a reference is odd territory. A bad reference can result in a lawsuit, so why would anyone ever give a bad one? A TMI good reference can result in a lawsuit. People should stick to the basics.
The danger territory as far as I'm concerned is hiring someone at the tail end of a long group of rejects. You peel back your instincts in order to get to the finish line.
- somebody from an old company added me as a contact, and
- I happen to have checked LinkedIn that year
That adds up to maybe six random people over 15 year.
My GitHub account is similar looking. A few public client libraries for my sass businesses, some private repos from old consulting gigs, and a handy way to log in to a few other awkward developer services.
You wouldn't hire me after looking at either.
As a candidate spending a bit of time connecting to people on Linkedin can help your chances of finding a role, so why not do it? Obviously, some people will have other better avenues of getting roles, but it's one avenue that can be used.
Personally I've never used Linkedin to find a role however I do find it handy just to get an idea of who works where in the industry and where pepople I've known in previous roles work now.
This isn't the first I've heard of using it for back-channel references. I think that is pretty common in the bay area.
Recruiting processes are so convoluted and hard to break through, that someone who apparently otherwise would have been a great candidate, had to lie to get an interview. Was a good candidate really only one that had worked at the managers previous employer?
How many great candidates are companies missing out on because of arbitrary filters?
Dishonesty is an intolerable trait. This person clearly wasn't a great candidate. Lying at work is just about the only thing I'll always fire somebody for.
How many times did my managers not "lie" to me by telling me that it is impossible for the company to give a raise or anything as a policy right now, while my colleague gets one one week later (sharing salary information is beautiful!)
A trustless workplace cannot be functional. You can point to examples of workplaces that are dysfunctional if you like, but it’s something I refuse to contribute to, or even tolerate. I don’t feel an ounce of remorse for any person I’ve fired for dishonesty, and it’s a practice I’ll continue with.
Perhaps other employers are more tolerant of it than I am, but all people hate being lied to. Some people do use lies to get ahead, but it comes at the expense of integrity, and youre equally capable of getting ahead with honesty and integrity (qualities that most people like, unsurprisingly).
What I'm saying is that in the social work environment everyone lies to some level and it is actually widely accepted so. I googled exactly for 5 seconds and found this article to give you a couple examples:
I’m also saying that a workplace cannot be functional without trust, and that a workplace that tolerates dishonesty will invariably erode it. So unless you want to exist in such a workplace, you should not tolerate dishonesty either.
Finally I’m saying that dishonesty is not a prerequisite for success, and that you can be successful with integrity and honesty, and that people value those traits.
I’m not saying there’s some magical threshold, which below, lies become justified. Dishonesty is not a justifiable personality trait, and trying to defend it demonstrates a lack of integrity.
You’re also confusing dishonesty with a lack of 100% openness. If somebody asks your for personal information, or information they’re not entitled to, there is no moral requirement to disclose it to them. This is the reductio ad absurdum I was talking about.
Human social interactions are built on small deceptions. Some amount of dishonesty is required if you want to avoid being an awkward social pariah. If you are incapable of any social dishonesty whatsoever, you will quickly be labeled an inappropriate, self righteous asshole.
Of course there is a limit to those social norms. Dishonesty that exceeds those limits moves from being polite to what most of us consider lying.
Actually that's not true. It is possible to be completely sincere, yet tactful. And you can do it in a way that doesn't come off as self-righteous. I will grant you that it is definitely more rare than it should be, but that doesn't make the opposite a requirement.
I completely and utterly disagree with this. There are too many social interactions centered around a shared expectation of dishonesty.
If your partner's grandmother asks you how the food was, if you answer with anything less than "great", regardless of how tactfully you do so, there will be negative social consequences.
Even in the rare case that the grandmother wants your honest opinion, the rest of the family have expectations about how you are supposed to respond.
If my wife's grandmother had asked me how the food was (assuming the food was awful), I might say "it was very much appreciated" -- and I could say that with 100% honesty, because she would have put a lot of effort into it, and even if she failed, I appreciate that she tried.
Or let's say she didn't try very hard (which would have been unlikely for either of my wife's grandmothers), I could answer with "thank you for making it", or something else like that, and my response could be 100% sincere.
I think the fundamental argument being had in this portion of this thread is that if you don't say everything you think about something then you are being dishonest. I and many others in the thread totally disagree with that assesment.
Your statements can be 100% truthful, and yet not reveal all of your thoughts about a subject or situation. Having a filter doesn't make you dishonest. Some of your thoughts are unkind, some can be even downright evil at times. The fact that you don't reveal these things is often a sign of self control. Words have power, and they affect others around you. There's a reason everyone can't hear every thought you have.
Again, the fact that I don't reveal everything I think does not make me dishonest. If that's your definition of "honesty", then I'm glad I don't live in a world where everyone is "honest" -- it would be a miserable experience.
Absolutely 100% true.
>I could answer with "thank you for making it"
You are carefully crafting a response to the question to make everyone believe that you liked the food without directly stating that. I believe this is completely morally equivalent to leading everyone to believe you liked the food by directly stating it.
I believe that neither one of these things is immoral in any way in the particular case.
Let's say she doesn't accept your dancing around the question? Are you going to keep crafting answers that are technically correct in attempt to make everyone think you liked the food?
I don't think it's wrong if you do so, but I do think that the effect is completely the same as if you'd just said it was great.
> You are carefully crafting a response to the question to make everyone believe that you liked the food without directly stating that.
NO -- see that's the problem. You're making a huge assumption that is incorrect.
"thank you for making it" does not mean "I liked it". And no, it won't make everyone believe that I liked the food (especially since that would not have been my intention in the first place). People aren't stupid. Most folks I know would realize in that situation that I wasn't directly answering the question. "thank you for making it" would not have been dishonest, and it would not mean "I liked the food".
> "Let's say she doesn't accept your dancing around the question? Are you going to keep crafting answers that are technically correct in attempt to make everyone think you liked the food?"
Firstly, you are wrong in your assessment that I would be attempting to make everyone think I liked the food -- in that situation that would not be my intention at all.
Secondly, if I was pressed I might try to move on with the conversation in a different way (without answering) -- which, again would not be dishonest. Not wanting to answer a question is not the same thing as dishonesty. I am not required to tell everyone what I think about everything in order to be honest.
If she kept pressing the question, I might try to answer the question nicely, like "It wasn't my favorite", or "I didn't care for it". Both of those answers would be honest. Being kind is not dishonesty, either. Even if it was one of the worst meals I'd ever eaten, both of those statements would be truthful.
"the effect is completely the same as if you'd just said it was great." -- No, I totally disagree with that. "It was great" would be a lie, "thank you for making it" expresses genuine gratitide for the effort made toward the meal.
You make it sound as though it is impossible to be tactful and truthful/honest at the same time. I disagree.
[ edited to remove a typo ]
Phrased another way, in software, does one insist on clinging to a protocol's specification if 90% of the implementations misinterpret it, or does one violate the specification in order to ensure that 90% of the implementations interpret it the correct way?
While this debate is occasionally relevant, we know that adapting software to the implementation is the only way to be effective. This is true with people too.
There is a lot of emphasis on tone, but that itself is one of these "social lies" we're discussing. The reality is that people don't care so much about tone as they care about hearing what they want to hear. An overwhelmingly positive tone to deliver a negative message will merely make someone hate you more.
The only way to "tactfully" deliver bad news is to deliver it so ambiguously that it isn't really clear what's happening (and maybe this isn't bad, as it gives the recipient time to mull over the possibilities and gradually adapt to the negative information, rather than getting hit like a ton of bricks).
Anything else will give a negative reaction, and your careful literalist wording that is technically "not a lie" will be interpreted as pomposity, arrogance, and additional deception, despite the extra intellectual effort you dumped into crafting a literally sanitary response.
This is hard to deal with, because it's the exact opposite of the intention for people who are naturally linguistic thinkers, like you and me. We put in the mental effort to be legally and technically correct and it just gets misinterpreted, often silently because "normal" people don't want to or necessarily know how to rebut the statement verbally -- they're content that your "hostility" was conveyed by making any statement that wasn't overwhelmingly positive.
This dichotomy is why lawyers are traditionally reviled. Their profession is linguistic trickery, minutia, and pedantry.
You can approach communication at the surface level of the verbatim information exchange, or you can approach it at the emotional level of ensuring that it conveys the intended, actual sentiment to the people receiving the information. Much of the time, unfortunately, we can't have both.
Social consequences will ensue regardless of you stating it or not. In this situation, as in many others, a lack of positive reaction is considered a negative reaction.
It all boils down to ego and believing others don't have a reason to look down at you just because you didn't directly state that the food was bad, while in reality you actually maneuvered your way out of the question to willingly avoid this, which is even more selfish.
And it has absolutely nothing to do with ego, it's about being kind to others.
There is simply no way anyone could perceive this as not dodging the question in order to not state what you truly think. This is why I consider it a worse behavior (and with a certainly worse outcome) than just simply lying and saying something along the lines of "it was good, thanks".
In the end, you could either
a) Lie directly ("it was great")
b) Lie by omission ("thank you for making it")
c) Be ruthlessly truthful ("it was pretty bad")
d) Be truthful, but tactful ("it was alright / I've had better, but it's very much appreciated")
In my opinion, b is definitely a worse social behavior than a. Yes, you blatantly lie in case a, but that is a lie with a justifiable goal: making someone else feel better.
Case b is still lying to some degree, and here you are half-lying in your own selfish interest: you want to think high of yourself because you didn't say an outright lie, while still trying not to hurt someone else's feelings. In other words, it's the response someone with needs for self-justification would choose. The worst/best thing is that this behavior is easily perceived, and its motives inferred: worst for the respondent; best for others, who can see her/him for what she/he is.
Yeah I understand that some people try to spin everything their way, and I know it's annoying. My point was that just because someone doesn't answer a question or doesn't tell you everything they think in a situation, that doesn't mean that they are being dishonest.
I don't see how that's not mental gymnastics to say it's not lieing, which seems like a big divide in this thread
It's not a lie because I didn't say something that was not true.
Again you are saying that me not answering a question is equivalent to me lying, and you are simply wrong about that. They are not the same thing.
If you refused to answer the question in this statement that's not lieing. If you said "no, it wasn't good" that wouldn't be lieing.
The entire camp of people in this thread with your viewpoint are acting like a stereotypical genie where as long as everything you say is technically accurate you have done nothing wrong even when you are will full disregarding the extra layers of meaning that are part of human to human conversation
irrelevant. I never said it was.
Also, saying "thank you for making it" isn't answering a question at all, so it isn't "answering a different question".
"The entire camp of people in this thread" with my viewpoint simply disagree with you. You attribute dishonesty to things we would say, when we know that saying those things would be honest.
So you can keep reiterating the same viewpoint over and over again, and I'll keep disagreeing with it every time (regardless of whether I spend the time to reply again).
>Also, saying "thank you for making it" isn't answering a question at all, so it isn't "answering a different question".
Saying that you're not lieing because you are haven't said something that is false out of context, but is still misleading _on purpose_ is the most pedantic thing I have heard all year.
And just don't reply if you are going to be done with a discussion, telling people you might not bother replying to them is condescending and uncivil for this board
That's your opinion, which I disagree with. So from my view it is still irrelevant. I'm willing to agree to disagree on that point.
> And just don't reply if you are going to be done with a discussion, telling people you might not bother replying to them is condescending and uncivil for this board
There was nothing uncivil, nor condescending about what I said. I just said I would continue to disagree even if I didn't continue the conversation.
I think we've pretty much beaten this disagreement to death, and it's time for me to move on.
It's not irrelevant just because you disagree with it. That's not what irrelevant means. It would be irrelevant if the truth or falsehood of the statement had no impact on the rest of the argument.
>I think we've pretty much beaten this disagreement to death, and it's time for me to move on.
Then just move on...stop trying to get the last word in. (I'm not the person you were replying).
Sometimes you just don't want people to know one way or the other. That is the scenario I described.
Many in this thread say that not answering is dishonesty, and ascribe my not answering the question to intending to lead my wife's grandmother to believe that I liked her food.
As I believe I pointed out earlier, my intention would not be to lead her to believe that I thought it was either good or bad -- I was not going to reveal the answer at all.
Leaving someone in the dark with no intention of pushing them to incorrect assumptions is not dishonesty.
Also, people can make incorrect assumptions about what is meant by what is said, even when the speaker has no intention of them making those assumptions.
It is the intention of the speaker that makes omission of information honest or dishonest.
Concur. I was asked for a reference on a graduating anesthesiology resident who was terrible in terms of his attitude, yet competent enough to practice safely; my reference letter, in its entirety:
"He worked here."
Communication is more than just the literal meaning of the words you write. Most people reading this are going to interpret is a "Do not hire this guy under any circumstances, he is terrible"
I think complete honesty--"Terrible attitude, but competent"--would have actually been more tactful than what you wrote.
Philosophers have debated this question for millennia--it's nothing new.
>empathetic with people without being dishonest
Empathy and honesty are orthogonal.
A proverb on the subject.
Not at all. When people ask "did you like the food?" they want to receive honest feedback, including a perfectly acceptable "actually not that much", at least where I live.
You can teach people that you will refuse to manipulate them and lie to them - and that this is a way to respect their dignity.
It's also unpolite to ask direct, potentially embarrassing questions that put people on the spot. There is nothing wrong in asking people not to do that.
People can find your (polite) honesty refreshing and warm.
That is completely cultural. Many culture have different expectations.
>People can find your (polite) honesty refreshing and warm.
In many cultures, including large parts of the US, politeness is often valued more than honesty--polite lies in such cases are a required a social convention. In any culture there will be consequences to ignoring social convention. Perhaps you are willing to accept those consequences. Some people have the social capital to flaunt convention, and some people choose to live with the stigma, but there is a stigma.
For example, if you were to answer "actually not that much" at my grandmother's house, you'd at a very minimum get a sideways glance from most people at the table.
Usually that's not the case.
Plenty of people lie, often unnecessarily, about tiny things like making excuses for being late but would not lie to cover up anything that has serious ethical implications.
I used to own a business, and I hired people that I knew, nice people. I learned that I should never hire anyone who was not trustworthy, to myself or others, it's just not worth it. One of my friends attended part of the hiring process by telling his current employer that he was sick. This raised red flags in my mind, but I thought, surely he wouldn't do that to me, his friend? Later he did sloppy work and hid it from me with lies, the company almost fell apart. One of many similar stories.
If you have a habit of convenient lies, when the pressure is on and the fear is in your gut, you're going to lie. Don't lie to yourself about it :)
What he should have done was a) coordinate a time with me when he was off work anyway or b) ask for a day off. He doesn't need to explain why, he could have said it was a personal day, it's not his bosses business. I don't expect someone to work two jobs simultaneously, we'd have easily worked it out.
I no longer run my own business. When I am looking for new employment, I do my current job, and do my job search when I can fit it in. If I need to take time off I take it. That didn't even occur to you?
We're not talking about spewing all your private thoughts to people, we're talking about responding to questions. You take a day off from work to go on an interview, and your boss asks you if you're interviewing. What's your response? People like you apparently spill the truth, and get fired. People like me find some way of lying about it ("I wasn't feeling well", "my kid was sick", etc.) so we don't get terminated before we're actually ready to make a move.
>What he should have done was a) coordinate a time with me when he was off work anyway or b) ask for a day off. He doesn't need to explain why
Wrong. Maybe you wouldn't ask why, but another manager might. You cannot guarantee that all managers are like you. Unless you can guarantee that no boss anywhere on the planet will ask invasive questions in this scenario (following your own advice about asking for a day off, which is exactly what I've done when I went on interviews), then you have no right to expect anyone to be honest. People lie because other people have bad behavior, and those people have greater power. Lying is the proper response to protect yourself.
>If I need to take time off I take it. That didn't even occur to you?
That's exactly what I do too. What makes you think I don't? The problem is if your boss pries, and asks why. I'm not going to tell the truth here, and not I'm sorry if that offends your morality. Luckily, I've had good bosses in recent years who didn't ask, so I didn't have to resort to this, but I can certainly see how someone might have a crappy boss who is nosy and asks improper and invasive questions like this. For those people, lying is the proper response. The boss is obviously bad, which means they obviously need to find a better job, but they're also working on that, and it's unreasonable to demand that they quit their job (or risk being fired) while doing a job search. My most recent job search took about 3 months (though I didn't get really serious until the last ~1.5); it can take some time to find just the right opportunity that you want to jump ship for.
Psychology seems to be way more complex than "once a liar always a liar". Some citation of psychological research would help.
Certainly people can change and improve themselves. I don't believe "once an x always an x" for anything I can think of.
Turns out, what I am saying is all backed up by a study which took about a minute of Googling to find: https://www.nature.com/articles/nn.4426#affil-auth
"Here we provide empirical evidence for a gradual escalation of self-serving dishonesty and reveal a neural mechanism supporting it. Behaviorally, we show that the extent to which participants engage in self-serving dishonesty increases with repetition. Using functional MRI, we show that signal reduction in the amygdala is sensitive to the history of dishonest behavior, consistent with adaptation. Critically, the extent of reduced amygdala sensitivity to dishonesty on a present decision relative to the previous one predicts the magnitude of escalation of self-serving dishonesty on the next decision. The findings uncover a biological mechanism that supports a 'slippery slope': what begins as small acts of dishonesty can escalate into larger transgressions."
To address the examples in the link given:
1. "Where do you see yourself in five years’ time?". There are honest ways of answering this question, or at least not-dishonest answers, that don't entail volunteering information that won't help you.
2. "Are you hungover?". Don't get shitfaced on a work night. If they're even asking you the question, you've already lost. Jesus Christ.
3. "What do you think of Bob?". Constructive criticism is how people improve, and many companies have formal peer review processes. If you can't answer that question without coming across as an asshole, it's not because you're being honest, it's because you don't know how to be honest without being an asshole.
4. "How are you?". This is just a synonym for "hello", except instead of saying "hello" back, you say "fine". That's not lying; that's just normal social etiquette. If you really want to be literal about it, you can still be tactful about it.
5. "Why are you leaving your current job?". Usually there are lots of very good reasons to leave your current job that 95% of employers will have no problem with. The fact that there are also other reasons that you choose not to volunteer isn't lying.
6. "Was this a bad idea?". Mind point #3: providing constructive criticism without being an asshole is an important skill. If they're not even willing to accept constructive criticism, then just don't offer your opinion (and find a new place to work). I can almost guarantee you, however, that most of the time, the people who run into this problem aren't the ones who are actually being asked their opinion--they're the ones volunteering it when it's unsolicited and unwanted.
7. "What do you think of me as a boss?". That's just "constructive criticism without being an asshole" again, with an extra dose of, "I suspect no one actually asked you that, and you just volunteered that information and got in trouble for being a tactless buffoon".
8. "What is your greatest weakness?". This is a shitty interview question, and you should respond with a joke about your favorite flavor of ice cream, and if they don't laugh, you shouldn't work there. I think this (and if you actually work places that ask you trap questions that you're not allowed to answer honestly, even if you're not an asshole) is a red flag of a toxic work environment. And yeah, if you're in a work environment where you have to tell lies to get by, then you should leave because that work environment is turning you into a cynical liar who writes cynical listicles trying to drag everyone else into the mud.
9. "Were you at a job interview earlier today?". I don't really have concrete advice for this, because I'm a software engineer and I would have to take a full day off for a job interview. But try changing your clothes or something.
10. "Is Bob cheating on his expenses?". If the truth is that you don't know, then saying "I don't know" isn't lying. If you do know, or at least if you know something, then share what you know. If your office politics have reached the "snitches get stitches" stage where genuine misconduct happens all the time and people can't even report it without it damage their careers--well, then you should find a new job, and you'll have a really good answer for why you're leaving your current job. Figuring out a tactful way of phrasing that is left as an exercise to the reader.
The listicle as a whole tells a very sad story: a story of someone who is trapped in a toxic and politicized work environment where outright misconduct goes on completely unchecked, a work environment that has driven them to drink and left them cynical, burned out, and assuming that every job they interview for will be more of the same. You can play "why don't you/yes but" all day and try to convince me your work environment is exactly that toxic, but there are two possibilities: either it's not actually that toxic and you're just being cynical and paranoid, or else you actually have a really bad job and need to leave before you turn into a paranoid cynic.
That's the argument. Some amount of dishonesty is required to follow normal social etiquette. Saying I'm fine is expected even if you're not actually fine. We have cultural norms for what kind of dishonesty is acceptable. When you exceed those norms, you're lying.
Politely laughing at an unfunny joke, and telling someone that their food is "interesting", fall well within the realm of socially acceptable polite dishonesty. But skipping work to see a ballgame by inventing a fake funeral is considered lying by many (most?) people.
Like most things in life there is a gray area along that spectrum.
I also second what my sibling comment says about lying by omission. I think morally, both are equal.
Even then, if a casual acquaintance asks me how I'm doing and I'm not in the middle of some sort of crisis that I would reasonably expect them to care about, the honest answer is to say that I am fine because my casual mood swings are not what they are asking me about. If it's a close friend or a counselor or someone like that, I should expand more. That's just normal context.
There's a weird fundamentalist notion of "honesty" that implies that anything short of continuously broadcasting all of your thoughts to everyone around you is "dishonest". Perhaps that's just innocent literalism, but I think a lot of that is, itself, a dishonest attempt to establish false equivalencies between submitting a completely fictitious resume on the one hand, and restraining yourself from barging into your boss's office to tell him he's a complete idiot every time you feel cheesed off (cf. https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=17079014).
>There's a weird fundamentalist notion of "honesty" that implies that anything short of continuously broadcasting all of your thoughts to everyone around you is "dishonest". Perhaps that's just innocent literalism, but I think a lot of that is, itself, a dishonest attempt to establish false equivalencies between submitting a completely fictitious resume on the one hand, and restraining yourself from barging into your boss's office to tell him he's a complete idiot every time you feel cheesed off"
Here is what I wrote that you were responding to.
>Politely laughing at an unfunny joke, and telling someone that their food is "interesting", fall well within the realm of socially acceptable polite dishonesty. But skipping work to see a ballgame by inventing a fake funeral is considered lying by many (most?) people.
>Like most things in life there is a gray area along that spectrum.
How does your response follow from my comment? There is no false equivalence on my part--there's no attempt at equivalence at all. I would place a completely fictitious resume clearly on the opposite the spectrum from polite social lie.
Again this your response was to a comment where I agreed with this previous comment of yours.
>That's not lying; that's just normal social etiquette
I even stated that this is the argument I'm making. Normal social etiquette isn't lying.
Where we seem to disagree is on what is normal social etiquette.
I think that politely laughing at an unfunny joke falls well within normal social etiquette. I think that telling your partner's grandmother that you like her food is well within normal social etiquette. I also think that telling a polite lie about your opinion of someone is within normal social etiquette.
I contend that there is zero overlap between what I would characterize as dishonesty and what I would characterize as acceptable behavior in a healthy professional environment.
What we seem to be focusing on at the moment is the relative honesty or dishonesty of polite social interactions, e.g. laughing at bad jokes or claiming to enjoy grandma’s cooking when you don’t. I think there’s likely an overlap between politeness and mild dishonesty in those situations, but by the same token, I don’t personally engage in many of these dishonesties—the polite “fake laugh” is more than I can pull off without coming across as sarcastic—but if you’re better at subtlety than I am, and you fake-laugh in a way that doesn’t come across as either sarcastic or genuine, and you reasonably expect the other person to be fluent and subtle enough to pick up on that, well, that’s not even dishonesty anymore, it’s just non-literal signaling, and after all, etiquette is largely a signaling dance where you show off and feel out how good each other is at subtle interpersonal signaling.
On the other hand, I also advise not dating people who unironically ask “does this dress make me look fat?”, and consider playing along with those games to be dishonest in a soul-eroding way. Although maybe that’s just because that’s a level of non-literal signaling that I just don’t have the patience for....
It's quite different if someone asks a real question such as the example you give about the quality of their food. If I don't want to be honest with whatever level of tact, I may avoid directly answering. I won't choose to lie to them. I don't agree with you if your view is that my unwillingness to declare my feelings about their food (omission) is equivalent to telling a lie about my feelings about their food.
You can chose not to be polite, but you will acquire a reputation. Refusing to play the expected social game will have negative consequences.
You clearly have no problem playing the "I'm fine" game. I'm not sure why you have a problem with the "answer the inconsequential question the way people expect it to be answered" game.
> If I don't want to be honest with whatever level of tact, I may avoid directly answering. I won't choose to lie to them.
If you avoid answering, the person asking will assume you hated it. You might as well just say so.
>I don't agree with you if your view is that my unwillingness to declare my feelings about their food (omission) is equivalent to telling a lie about my feelings about their food.
A moral code that makes harmful omissions perfectly fine, but benign untruths immoral is, to me at least, very bizarre.
The Sopranos version is, Q: "How you doin'?" ... A: "How YOU doin'?"
Every single company that more than 2 people is full of constant lies, it's just that most of them are below our collective threshold of being an egregious lie.
Also, do you know what happens to companies that have mass layoffs cloaked in dishonesty? They destroy their own reputations. An outcome that entirely proves my point.
My point is that lieing isn't a binary option. If people told literally no lies our society would fall apart. White lies are social lubricant to get through the day.
This matters in the discussion because employers have made their job positings be full of lies 99% of time. When everyone can expect that a random interaction is going to be mostly lieing then it's moved into white lie category, the same way that if you ask an American "How are you doing" the social expectation is for them to say good or great, regardless of the actual reality
Edit: I think the person talked about in the article has moved way past white lie and into unhireable status, but I feel like the idea that 100% honesty is the only policy is ignoring all of reality
If you are a manager, you heard the CEO say they are going to lay off the bottom 20% of the engineers next month, you know you rated employee A as your worst employee during evaluations, and you then assign Employee A to a new project that's estimated to be 8 months of work, you have not lied by your definition because your CEO didn't say explicitly that they were firing employee A.
If you were a manager and a bank called to confirm an employee worked there so that they could be approved for a home loan, which you know they check to make sure that the employee has a salary that will pay the loan for the near future, you are going to fire the employee next week, and you just tell the bank, "yes he is employeed here" you have not lied by your definition because they didn't explicitly ask if the employee was going to be employed for the duration of that loan.
If you put out a job posting for a set of skills + salary that you know no one will ever take, and then apply for an h1b slot because you couldn't get any candidates, you haven't lied by your definition.
You've made the point that I am trying to win an argument by changing the definition of what words mean, but from my view point that is what you are doing. Human communication is not run through a compiler. There are explicit definitions, implicit definitions, connotations, and even social expectations that all add meaning to our communications, and by saying that you never lied because you are following the exact definition of the words you are being disingenuous
The real process for how something like happened is that the management spend some time assessing the viability of a project > decide it's not worth continuing > make a plan for how to shut it down > inform staff and help them find new roles inside or outside the company. Now, until the plan had been finalised and approved, there is no news to tell anybody, we (intentionally) didn't have any new major pieces of work kicking off during the review period. At no time in this process did anybody lie to anybody else, by omission or otherwise. If my superiors had asked me to help them do this in a way that was morally questionable or dishonest, I would have refused.
Your argument that everybody must lie by omission simply because there are always things that you can't tell certain people is complete nonsense. A lie by omission is to construct the information you present to somebody intentionally in such as way as to misrepresent the facts and mislead them. By itself, not revealing confidential or private information to somebody is not lying by omission.
I'm not going to reply to any more of your comments, because your entire argument is predicated on reinventing the meaning of words, and creating fantasy straw-man scenarios to apply them to.
I apologize if it came off as me saying that you had done these things. I am on the east coast and not in a tech hub for most of my career, and many of the stories coming from the west coast tech hubs sound like utopian fantasies compared to the way I have seen employers treat employees here.
At this point we are looking at the same painting but you see blue and I see red, so perhaps it is best to end the discussion
I agree with what you're saying about withholding information being different than lying but there are circumstances where you will need to flat out lie and fabricate a story to effectively withhold that information. In my case I had to pretend that it must have been a stuck key or something while I quickly reverted the changes and walked them through turning off the computer and pressing all of the keys a lot to "fix" it.
It's one thing to not tell anyone what a meeting between management is about but if you're telling people that you're in a meeting about "Regulatory compliance auditing" while planning a layoff that's not just withholding information. I'm not saying it isn't justified but a lie is still a lie.
Concur. Imagine if we could all read each other's minds: things would go downhill in a New York zeptosecond.
That statement seems completely disconnected from reality. Not the part about going to find something better, because that is (usually) possible. But managers regularly and transparently lie.
It sounds like you’re a boss, so I think you haven’t had to experience this for too long and have probably forgotten it.
Also, try not to be so gung ho on declaring who you fire and how little remorse you have / whatever the situation. It does not come off well.
There are those that do, and they have to handle the consequences of that.
>It sounds like you’re a boss, so I think you haven’t had to experience this for too long and have probably forgotten it.
I am, but I also have one myself. I am also fully aware of how dysfunctional organisations can become when they don't value honesty and integrity.
>Also, try not to be so gung ho on declaring who you fire and how little remorse you have
I don't have any issues with discussing my values with others. Especially in an anonymous online forum. Reading some of the responses I've gotten in this thread, it seems honesty and integrity are perhaps not widely valued here. Maybe I've changed somebody's perspective on that, maybe that's a good thing.
It does seem supercilious though, declaring yourself to be so honorable while basically bragging (it seems to me) about firing people.
Maybe, but rarely to the degree that this guy did.
Yeah, I wasn't all that sick when I took that sick day that one time, suspiciously close to a AAA video game release, but then the company told us that it was doing great, and a month later we all got laid off, and our satellite office got shuttered. Yeah, I said my subcontracted position wasn't renewed at my last job, when I was actually pushed out by office politics, but then the company told us it just had a great year, and nobody got more than a 2.5% raise, and no bonuses anywhere.
As such, I'll lie to my company whenever the benefit to me would outweigh the amount I'd feel bad about the lying, and if there were a negligible chance of getting caught, because I trust management about as far as I could kick it. I have to do a motive analysis on every official statement, and if the reasonable alternatives might result in damage to the company, such as by loss of critical employees or short selling of the stock, I can't rely on the statement in any way.
I don't have the luxury of "firing my employer" for lying to me, because all of them have done it. If I kept that policy, I couldn't work for anybody [who is likely to be hiring].
So I certainly hope you have been scrupulously honest to all those folks that you fired for lying to you, and that you never passed along the obvious bullshit from your boss to your underlings. You have to give honesty and respect it, in order to expect honesty and receive it.
He applied for a sales job... Some (NOT ME!!!!1!) would argue that dishonesty is a mandatory trait in that occupation
Dishonesty which you can detect is apparently intolerable. But dishonesty which you never catch may not be.
That's one of the points of the article, the other being that the candidate apparently showed a solid set of skills in the interviews. Dishonest people are dishonest, but they also might be lazy and thus willing to apply a skillset rather than deal with the complexity of additional, ongoing layers deceit.
The thing about dishonesty (aside from the fact that a person willing to be dishonest about one thing, is more than likely willing to be dishonest about other things too), is that it tends to beget more dishonesty. You tend to have to tell more lies in the future to maintain ones you told in the past. As I've said elsewhere in this thread, you can get ahead on the basis of dishonesty, but only if you lack integrity. Keeping a lie concealed for ever seems to me like it would require luck or tremendous effort, otherwise it's probably not a very interesting lie.
Sure, but that's irrelevant to my point. We typically have $known_small_quantity of cases where we have detected people being dishonest. But we also have $unknown_quantity of people who were dishonest to us without us realizing it-- maybe because we were naive, or because the deceit was so sophisticated, or it was so carefully contained, etc.
> The thing about dishonesty (aside from the fact that a person willing to be dishonest about one thing, is more than likely willing to be dishonest about other things too), is that it tends to beget more dishonesty.
You necessarily based that opinion on the cases of $known_small_quantity dishonesty. Which, unless you are a professional PI, is almost guaranteed to be crude and fairly easily detectable.
Again, the point of the article is that this cheat left little to no traces of dishonesty aside from choosing the same reference. Yes, the author describes the candidate as "too good to be true." But that's after the fact, and after the author admitted that they would have hired the person without the coincidence of knowing the reference chosen.
If you assume from the beginning that "dishonesty begets dishonesty," it leads you astray. For example, how many of the author's current employees are just luckier cheats than this candidate? That's a question you don't ask if you assume dishonesty is necessarily self-destructive.
I'd like to say I second this, but I have to weigh the value of the employee and the size of the lie. For instance, calling in "sick" the Monday after the super bowl. Is 8 hours of PTO so this person can recover from an obviously self-inflicted hangover and not a random "sickness" worth losing a team lead on a project? (Yes, I consider calling a hangover a "sickness" as dishonest.)
In any case, the CIA and a normal working environment have a lot of differences, so you can’t really take ordinary workplace expectations and dismiss them because they’re not compatible with the CIA environment.
The general issue of this thread, which you lot have forgotten completely as you went nitpicking what is dishonesty and what is hiding sone facts etc, is that, the whole concept of "references" is a fucked up way to cover incompetence and discrimination at hiring, and forces people to spend time in jobs they would rather not in order to build resumes, and tollerate assholes in order to avoid bias when hirers are scuba-diving into your personal history. That seems to me to be a huge breach of privacy too.
Furthermore, those few of you who can have pleasant jobs seem to just plain ignore the fact that most businesses lie to their employees constantly. My only IT job for example, which I started out as a Python backend developer, but then was forced to, before I wrote five-six lines of python, to work on frontend instead, using JS and jQuery, both of which I did not really know? That was sth. I could have avoided if the employer did not fool me into thinking that I would do Django stuff instead. And, I havent done a survey, but generally the amount of stories employers fucking up employees far outweigh the case vice versa. The morale being, most people have shitty jobs, and you lot are being hypocritical judging them while you dont have to endure such things. Lucky for you, but have some empathy.
As for the initial point of this thread, well, while the Catfish is guilty of lying and better avoided, the circumstances that pushed him to do so are just as equally if not more messy. And also, consciously or subconsciously, we seem to condemn lies and manipulative behavoiur when we are on the benefitting side.
I'm honest out of the gate. But once they've lied to me, all bets are off.
I'm sure you've never lied as well, except to yourself which is abundantly clear.
Minor lies are such a part of human society that it's a sign of some disorder if a child is actually incapable of lieing
I don't know what kind of world you live in where not blurting out the first insulting comment is considering lying...
Not sharing every thought you have does not make you a liar.
Everyone is not required (Thank God!) to reveal everything that crosses their mind in order to be truthful and honest.
You have a very warped definition of "dishonesty".
I am sympathetic to candidates who feel they have skills but lack credentials, but it is no excuse for falsifying info. Make the strongest case you can about your true history, and you'll eventually connect with a company that values the actual you instead of a fake that will eventually break down.
There's nothing wrong with asking the opinions of people other than those a candidate directs you to. With both the references and the others, you need to understand what experience they're speaking from and what their motivations might be for telling you what they do. Anything that seems like gossip (not the speaker's direct experience) should be treated with suspicion, either ignored or backed up by corroboration from others who can speak independently; discussing it with the candidate themselves may be important. I'm more concerned about hearing only good things from official references or not.
In this case the candidate said they left on good terms, but given the author's willingness to go beyond what is "considered kosher" says to me that they likely do this all the time.
Even if you're not asking people at a candidate's current employer, if you start poking around asking all of your contacts about someone and it gets back to their current boss, there can be serious consequences for that candidate.
The author even said that one of their contacts said he would discretely ask around about the candidate. Are all of the people the contact talked to going to keep discretely asking their coworkers as well?
In America it is incredibly easy to fire someone--stop being so paranoid.
^ uh, that is very often not the case. Well I guess it is if you are willing to live with any legal consequences that are the fallout of firing someone.
I have a close relative that did a lot of hiring and a decent amount of firing (for legitimate reasons -- they were the type to give people a lot of chances, and genuinely wanted to help people better their situation). Their caution in the firing process was driven by years of experience (both theirs and other manager's experience) where some fired employees that were clearly in the wrong would try to pursue legal action against the employer (even though they had no case whatsoever). Attorney's fees aren't cheap, even if you are in the right.
So it often is not true that "In America it is incredibly easy to fire someone".
People can pursue legal action for anything they want. They can pursue legal action for not hiring them in the first place.
This isn't something unique to firing someone, it is a normal cost of business.
The fact that it isn't unique to the firing process doesn't change the fact that it often makes it more difficult to fire someone (again, even if the case goes nowhere the employer often has to deal with it anyway - costing both time and money).
Here's why that's relevant. Because you're trying to reduce the amount of frivolous lawsuits from firing employees, you decide to be more hiring averse. You interview more people and turn many people down than you otherwise would have.
Each additional person you interview but turn down, exposes you to the possibility of a frivolous lawsuit. If you turn down 50 extra people, you've now opened yourself up to 50 extra frivolous lawsuits.
Hell each additional person who you accept a resume from could result in a frivolous lawsuit.
>The fact that it isn't unique to the firing process doesn't change the fact that it often makes it more difficult to fire someone (again, even if the case goes nowhere the employer often has to deal with it anyway - costing both time and money).
You keep using the term often. Wrongful termination lawsuits aren't common. Lawyers know they are very hard to win without a clear evidence of wrongdoing by the employer, and lawyers generally don't want to file frivolous lawsuits that they know will be almost immediately dismissed.
Lawyers who are willing to file lawsuits that they know they can't win definitely don't do so on contingency, and most people who've just been fired don't have thousands of dollars lying around to pay a lawyer to file a frivolous lawsuit.
Don't fire someone on FMLA, don't fire someone in retaliation for whistleblowing, don't fire someone because they're in a protected class etc... and the chances of being sued are very small.
Firing someone in the US is incredibly easy compared to most of the rest of the developed world. Stop being so risk averse. If you don't do anything stupid, The chance of a lawsuit is very small, the chance of a lawsuit that makes it past an initial hearing is smaller, and the chance of losing is smaller still. The amount of extra time you spend on interviews, the additional risk exposure from interviewing additional candidates, and the lost opportunity from additional false negatives is going to far outweigh any potential risk.
I've heard of plenty of cases of legal action taken because someone was fired. I've never heard of a single case of someone taking legal action because they were not hired. I'm not saying it doesn't happen, I just have never heard of a single case.
And personally (and I'm sure the same is true for the relative I was speaking of), I would be never be afraid of frivolous lawsuits from someone who did not get hired (again, because I've never heard of anyone ever filing one). So in my view the point is still irrelevant. However knowing about multiple cases of people bringing legal action due to being fired, I'd still argue that it isn't as easy as people think it is.
And no, I'm not referring to the employer doing any of those stupid things you listed, though some of them were cases where the employer was accused of doing something illegal in firing, but it was unfounded.
I'm talking about relatively small companies for which the hassle of having to deal with these things is expensive - in time lost and hassle dealing with it, if nothing else.
That escalated quickly.
Checking references is one of the last things we do and insist that one be their a current manager so being "outed" by someone else isn't an issue. If I talk to a non-reference who I think is in a position to know about a candidate's performance, I would make it clear that discretion is called for; that's no guarantee but again, reference checks are the end game, they're either "the one" or maybe one of two if it's a really hard choice.
Clearly that was hyperbole.
>Checking references is one of the last things we do and insist that one be their a current manager so being "outed" by someone else isn't an issue.
What kind of positions are you hiring for where people are OK with this? The vast majority of managers aren't OK with employees who are actively looking for other work, despite what they may say.
I work in higher ed. There are plenty of people with other workplace problems, mental health problems, but maybe university staff are generally more humane (our benefits are compared to the American average).
Yeah I would say that's probably true.
In private industry this wouldn't work at all. Because most managers will retaliate. Mostly they'll just do things like giving you short term grunt work because they don't want you on anything long term. The worst managers will just flat out fire you.
That's inviting imposters. Most regular people applying for a job wouldn't provide their current boss as a reference, but the people who would provide fake references? No problem! You can talk to my current boss, or even my boss in 5 years time, whatever you want!
If a candidate attempted that, I would definitely look into what options there are for consequences beyond not getting the job.
I've never done this when checking references, and I've never known anyone who does it regularly. It seems that there is a disconnect here between your sector and private industry. Your hiring practices seem a bit off to people coming from private industry, so you're seeing people here trying to come up with ways around it.
>If a candidate attempted that, I would definitely look into what options there are for consequences beyond not getting the job.
If you mean legally, no one is going to prosecute this even if their technically could be criminal penalties.
You could sue the person to recover damages, but you don't really have any damages beyond a bit of wasted time. The person they are impersonating could sue the person for defamation, but they'd have a hard time proving damage as well.
You could also try calling up their current employer, but then you're opening yourself up to defamation claims that would have a very clear damage component. Truth is a defense in defamation cases, but you're going to need to prove it and it's not going to be pleasant.
> Your hiring practices seem a bit off to people coming from private industry
I don't care what handful of people think, especially when they seem to be just thinking adversarially and not speaking from experience. None of us are in a position to speak about what practices are prevalent in any sector. But you can now say you've encountered someone who claims to have been a hiring manager that, on at least one occasion, didn't just go by the contact information provided for a reference check.
> If you mean legally
I don't mean anything beyond that I'd have a strong emotional reaction to such a large deception and would wish for there to be consequences so they would regret it and never do it again. Courts didn't cross my mind but in then little that I have thought about it, my guess has been that there wouldn't be anything to do.
I don't think that's true. I've been around long enough to know that insisting on getting a reference from someone's current manager is not a common practice for developer jobs in private industry.
Like I said, it may be common in your sector, but it most definitely is not in mine.
If you called my manager and got me fired from my job in an interview process, I'd most likely hire a lawyer and sue you.
This is America so anyone can sue for anyone for anything but what exactly do you think the grounds would be for a suit? I won't call without your consent, I have no intent to cause you harm, if the reference calls go well you'll even likely get a job offer.
The way you wrote it, it seemed you were going to just call the employee's current manager.
I would NEVER give you consent for that. I don't know what kind of screwed-up industry that would ever be the norm in. Doing this is grounds for a lawsuit because it will most likely result in termination of the employee from his current job.
>if the reference calls go well you'll even likely get a job offer.
That's a big "if". The reference call almost guarantees the person will lose his current job.
As for the grounds for the suit, getting someone fired from their job is pretty good grounds for a lawsuit. There's expectations of privacy that go with job-hunting, and willfully getting someone fired from their job will not sit well with a jury.
I wrote, "Checking references is one of the last things we do and insist that one be their a [sic] current manager". I thought that made it clear we ask the candidate for references and that one be their current manager.
> The reference call almost guarantees the person will lose his current job.
Not everyone is like you, I wouldn't fire someone for applying for a job. If you wouldn't fire someone for it either, why do you assume almost every manager is not like you or me and would fire them?
> There's expectations of privacy that go with job-hunting
But by giving me consent to call your manager, that expectation is gone.
Take it with a grain of salt but this post  addresses "outing" a candidate.
Q: can a prospective employer tip off my boss that I’m job-searching?
A: It’s legal, but it’s really, really crappy.
However, "It’s legal, but it’s really, really crappy."
Notice the common theme that most people think that outing an employee is crappy, and forcing them to tell their perspective employer is also crappy.
Again, your sector may be different, but that's were everyone here is coming from--it's considered downright awful in our industry.
how benevolent of you
I think that's a really hard bias to get over, even if people don't readily admit it like the author did. Presumably you have feelings about previous places you worked at, and thoughts about the general culture at them ("everyone was great!" or "that place was a dump!").
If you have strong feelings about a place, it's pretty hard not to let those feelings influence decisions like this. It's a bit like trying to be unbiased about hiring a friend: Even if you never admit it, how could you possibly be totally unbiased?
Of course, in an ideal world the ethical thing to do is to remove yourself from the hiring process because of a conflict of interest. That, also of course, can be impossible in some places (no one to take your place, rigid processes that insist you interview or decline the candidate, etc.).
Just going, "oh he wored at the same company as me so I should like him" seems like a frat/sorority mentality
You think it was just a coincidence that the fake job/reference the catfish had listed was one of the hiring manager's past employers?
> Make the strongest case you can about your true history, and you'll eventually connect with a company that values the actual you instead of a fake that will eventually break down.
This is definitely true and the right advice for candidates who are considering lying to get through the recruiter filter.
Why is it no excuse? Because we work in a system where the majority of employees and employers are trying to do the right thing.
But that's becoming less and less true - I've interviewed with plenty of companies who have no problem with wasting days of a potential employees time with large take home tests and I've got no qualms about outsourcing those tests.
It's fair to be annoyed when hiring managers shift costs of filtering over to candidates. If it really bothers you, might be a sign to avoid that company culture entirely.
Let's not pretend candidates have equal recourse if a company lies to them about the culture or the job.
What makes you think the interview process is indicative of the work environment?
Most of the time it isn't.
I've worked at quite a few great places that had ridiculous interview processes.
(This is meant to be pointed, because I disagree, but not rhetorical - I'm genuinely interested in understanding the happy path end to end for this strategy.)
Hell every single job I've worked at had multiple people whose requirements to hire someone were so difficult that they, themselves wouldn't have been hired
A lot of the software worlds application process out of a few tech hubs is just shotgunning applications so that you get your resume in front of enough hiring managers who are having a good day that you get an interview.
We tend to cargo cult interview practices from whomever the big player of the week is (IBM, then MS, now Google).
Then we justify these awful hiring practices by convincing ourselves that programming is so hard that of course we need to put candidates through 6 rounds of interviews and treat people with 20 years of experience like new grads.
Answering a few questions in an interview is just a gut check. The real yardstick is how well a candidate worked for other companies in the past.
Anyone who's tried to get their foot in the door of an industry with an entry level position can attest to this. Even the smartest, most charismatic candidates give employers pause when they're untested.
I would have a hard time believing this candidate was the only one who wasn't entry level. The fact that the catfish progressed so far with that specific fake reference had to be materially important, especially when complaining about difficulty hiring prior to this candidate.
A hell of a lot. And then they proclaim that there is a major shortage of workers.