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I Got Catfished by a Candidate (saastr.com)
414 points by imartin2k 4 months ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 634 comments



You just never know who might turn up from your past...

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.


And on the flip side bear in mind that some of us were 10-15yo on IRC back in the day. Don't fault those of us too hard.


Yes, one of the great things about the "don't use your proper name on the internet" was the ability to let go of the past if needed. Much much harder now.


Getting ot now, but actually you'd be surprised (at least I was) how fast you drop off the internet as websites and services die. I've gotten more careful about using my full name maybe 4-5 years ago (the 10 before that I didn't care, and I never used my real name the 10 before that) and nowadays I'm all but invisible online, save a few work presentations with my name on it left and right. I know the mantra is 'the internet never forgets', and probably if you're high profile it doesn't, but for your average joe, even thousands of comments and tweets and posts die off after only a few years.


Every once I a while I end up trying to recover my own posts and accounts from the Wild West days >10 years ago. It's shockingly hard - anything less established than Hotmail has a pretty good chance of simply being gone or unrecoverable.

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.


How is it that hard? I still don't use my proper name. The only exception is Facebook, but I don't do much on there besides maintain an account to prevent someone else from making a fake one to impersonate me, to be able to access the profiles of a few select family members and friends, and to sell stuff on the local yard-sale groups. For all my other internet activities, including this site, Reddit, etc., I use pseudonyms.


Woah, EFNet...I was definitely 12 years old on EFNet back in the day.


I'm still friends with a handful of IRC folks. Some were older, some were younger. I think I was 12-14 during my heyday, but I was around for a few years prior.


A bunch of us eventually got tired of EFNet politics and started a tiny server network of our own that's run for almost .. 16 years now? Running /lusers shows 22 users on the network across 3 servers, with 5 total channels. Overkill, but it's "home" to us.


Next time someone says technical hiring is not hiring quite so many women or minorities because it's purely meritocratic, I'm going to point them at this post.


(1) Networking and building a reputation for yourself will always have value.

(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.


You are completely missing the parent's point. They say that this is one of the examples where hires are not performed 100% based on merit but that existing networks and references are an important aspect, without denying that this person did not have the merits to be hired.

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.


I'm curious if you believe this comment belongs to both the Freemason association and "mr_bill on efnet #unix IRC in the 90s", or only one of them? I'd 100% agree on the former, but not the latter.


In re (3), the post specifically mentions the Masons, which traditionally is extremely exclusive, men-only, excludes Catholics, etc.

They've opened up slightly in response to pressure, and there are some female freemasons, but it's still pretty exclusive.


We have plenty of Catholic members. The Masons didn't exclude Catholics, the Pope banned membership in Masonry by Catholics because he considered the organization a threat to his authority. That ban is pretty much ignored nowdays.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Papal_ban_of_Freemasonry

The Knights of Columbus was formed as a "Catholic equivalent of Freemasonry", basically.


The masons was an anecdote specific to that commenter, my point was that there are many different types of groups that serve the same purpose.


At the very least, I think pjc50's observation highlights that there is a certain inertia in some industries that perpetuates a bias toward one or the other gender.

Edit: changed a couple of words to make my point clearer.


Well if we're doing anecdotes, I work for the second largest IT firm in my country, and the management is largely made up of women, and I don't believe any of them to be freemasons.

Perhaps this observation has more to do with location and culture than it does industry.


Sorry, my point wasn't really about Freemasons in particular, but I'm too tired now to try to clarify.


Do you know any of them to be Catholic?


Order of the Eastern star.


>exclude Catholics,

>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. https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Squeeze-out


Speaking about meritocracy.

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.

2.) Freemason

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.


> 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.

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.


>The headhunt started on very little information -

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.


>no matter how much tech people like to pretend real world is meritocracy.

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.


1.) Meritocracy is much stronger claim then just lack of sexism or racism.

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.


Why make this black and white?

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.


Yes, we know that happens.

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.


Giving enough of a shit to hang out on IRC is a merit. Most of the rest are anecdotes about having a long career. The only sketchy bit is the Mason thing.


Do women not attend social clubs? Because that’s what IRC channels and the Freemasons both are: social clubs.

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?


Even if all aspects of two groups were equal -- sociability and preference to hire from one's own social circles -- you can still have a rich-get-richer effect. Group A has many more people in hiring authority positions for historical reasons, so continues to preferentially hire from their social group, which is also mostly group A. Meanwhile Group B is doing the exact same thing, but has fewer people in power so things don't equalize out.


The last point is certainly a "yes" overall.

Junior Leagues are great example of women's social groups that are quite influential. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Junior_League


If they are not using this forum, and hold firm to ^ statement please don't point them here, but rather share the post's contents with them on efnet


Hey mr_bill. Long time no talk.

-indy :)


uhh, hey guys. this is weird.


Freemasons.


is a sideways smiley face now some secret mason handshake?


No, just a 90s era #unix'er.


Hi there. It's been a while :D


Only loosely related to your comment but the freemason bit reminded me of this Monty Python sketch:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e2PyeXRwhCE


I rather like this Hale and Pace bit

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oBnzp4OkDD4


Hehe. Don't screw with the masons (or their daughters).


My last girlfriend's father had been a Mason, and she was heavily involved in the Order of the Eastern Star for a while. It was nice to not have to explain what I did when I went to Lodge, and so forth.. and when she attended our (public) installation of officers ceremony, she knew a bunch of the high-muckety-mucks that were attending :D



Wow, haven't been on efnet in forever. Ever know a guy named chris at unix.org, was in #unix.



Another EFNet #unix veteran from the same time period. Ahoy!


EFNet. Those were the days. I was pHaze on #phreak and #2600.


Hey mr_bill it's me Andrew


Question: What is freemasonry about and why did you join it? I read up on them quite a bit but I just didn't find any good examples of actual goals and activities they are pursuing. Do Masons have a hacker mentality?


I'm not a Freemason, so I'm probably talking out of turn here, but I've always admired Freemasonry and the Masons I know are pretty cool, so I'll give this a shot. Corrections welcome.

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.


I'm glad to answer any questions anybody might have, or honestly, pick up a copy of "Freemasonry for Dummies" from Amazon or a library. It's a very well written book, and I got to meet the author, Bro. Chris Hodapp, a few years ago when he spoke at one of our formal dinner meetings here in Houston. Great guy. It's one of the books I recommend to anybody who is interested in the organization and wants to learn more and possibly look into joining.


Actually, in the US it's run at the state level. Each state has a "Grand Lodge", that issues charters for the local Lodges (and in some cases, owns the buildings). Each state "recognizes" other state Grand Lodges (and their local Lodges) as "regular"; this lets me go visit other Lodges that my state GL has recognition with, and so forth.

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)


FYI - a Stated Meeting at a Masonic Lodge is basically Robert's Rules of Order, with a little more pomp and circumstance and fancy titles and "jeweled collars" (felt and chromed pot metal) for the officer positions. Being a Mason and speaking in front of an entire Lodge helped me get over my fear of public speaking - because everyone else in the room had been through the exact same scenario, and nobody was going to make fun of me.

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.


>are based around the allegory of the craftsmen that built King Solomon's Temple, //

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.


Freemasonry's self-awareness of its history has varied over time. Most educated Freemasons today don't believe the origin myths to be anything other than entertaining allegory.

A general overview of the topic: http://www.themasonictrowel.com/Articles/History/origin_file...


Check out this bit on "Operative" vs "Speculative" Masonry, it addresses your question pretty well:

http://www.masonicdictionary.com/operativev.html


So I have an odd situation for you.

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'm a British Freemason, but in my jurisdiction so long as you resigned in good standing (without any money owed), then you just need to open a dialog with a local lodge (in amity/recognition with your mother lodge's jurisdiction) and explain the situation to them. In England the secretary of your new lodge would either contact the secretary of your mother lodge to check you are in good standing, or ask you to contact them for a certificate/letter stating you resigned in good standing. I think in the US you might do that with dues cards. Your new lodge can help you get back up to speed and should be very understanding.

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.


As one of my mentors said, "It's not about you knowing the proficiency 100% when you pass, it's about knowing it 100% when you're teaching it to others."

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.


That's fascinating! In England we are a lot more easy going over the proficiency required to progress. Normally your proposer or a lodge mentor will chat with you and go through your questions and responses, but there isn't any certificates etc. When the candidate is asked the questions to prove proficiency he is accompanied by the relevant Deacon who will prompt him, and in some cases actually prompt the whole thing. That doesn't look very good, but it does happen (particularly when there are extenuating circumstances). The candidate is still passed/raised. Once you have completed your raising you are issued with a certificate from grand lodge to prove your status as a mason, but it is not graded in any way. It simple states in flowery language when you were raised to the degree of a Master Mason.

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.


That's pretty much how it's done here - if you freeze up during the "official" presentation you'll get helped and prompted and so forth.

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


Shorts and a t-shirt would very much be scandalous! In fact there's a good chance the Tyler wouldn't let you in.

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!


In Texas, of course our WM's head covering is a cowboy hat :D


Contact a local Lodge, explain the situation, and usually you can get a "letter in good standing" from your original Lodge (or Grand Lodge), "demit" (officially leave) your original Lodge, then apply for membership at your new local Lodge (and pay normal dues and so forth).

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".


> They don't have a mission other than to be good citizens, help their communities, and help each other.

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.


Note well that the masons are a sexist organization, denying access to women, and historically an entirely segregated organization as well (see also: Prince Hall Masons).


Really? See https://www.owf.org.uk/ In the UK Lady masons have their own lodges and we are very supportive of their efforts often sharing masonic halls and facilities.

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.


The path to becoming a mason is first by reaching out to your local lodge. The person who responds can help you with the process.

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.


I wish there was a HN virtual lodge or something more intimate than this. Sometimes I feel like only you guys will understand the things im expressing and tbh I would love to illuminati some (adjective) and change/guide the world in more real ways than simply through corporation and finance.

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.


That sounds like a secular version of a church or something. Am I in the right ballpark?


Not a Mason, but yes, that's my take. Lodges provide the essential community functions and the recognition of a "universal brotherhood", without requiring any specific theological pronouncements (other than a basic acknowledgement that a "higher power" exists, which is vague enough to allow anyone). This allows virtually everyone in the community the ability to join and work together, more-or-less regardless of individual background or tradition.

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.


As you said, these organizations aren't too friendly to atheists, and non-atheists are likely to be members of some church, so of course they're going to be busy with that, as you yourself experienced.

I guess people in the past had more free time to spend on non-work activities like this.


Eh, kind of. There's a no atheists allowed rule last I checked (A belief in a supreme being and scripture is a condition of membership), but they're not picky about what god(s) you might worship.


That's the root of the problem of freemasonry.

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.


I don't think I follow. From what I've read here, the question is "do you believe in any higher power at all?" which everyone except a committed atheist could answer "yes" truthfully (and even then, an atheist could presumably accept some sort of "life-force" that isn't a god).


Correct. The question is "do you believe in a higher power y/n?" not "give us details on what you think of said higher power".

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.


That's completely incorrect. Freemasonry expects religious tolerance. That is, Freemasonry generally believes people have the right to believe and practice religion as their conscience dictates. That also means that generally speaking, Freemasons should respect the religious beliefs of others. That doesn't mean Freemasons are required to adopt other people's religious beliefs or refrain from disagreeing with them.


The proper term is "Third place" [0].

[0] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Third_place


> In community building, the third place is the social surroundings separate from the two usual social environments of home ("first place") and the workplace ("second place"). Examples of third places would be environments such as churches, cafes, clubs, public libraries, or parks.

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.


Thanks for all of the plaques :)


|_o


Should freemasons do foundations for zero cost?


I've heard a story about an older lady who was confused and needed work done on her porch.. she contacted the local Masonic lodge for help.. and in a few days, a bunch of the guys showed up at her house and rebuilt her porch for her. Stuff like that is what we do. My Lodge takes donated bicycles from local stores (Wal-Mart, etc, where they were display models and can't be sold as new), fixes them up, and we donate them to various kid's organizations around town. We do a breakfast for teachers at a local school a couple times a year.. collect money for a couple of scholarships we award to local high school students.. and of course everyone has heard of the Shriners Hospitals for Children - every Shriner is a Mason, although not every Mason is a Shriner. It's what we call an "Appendant Body", an organization that you can join and participate in after you've gone through the three basic degrees of Freemasonry.


I know only a few. One installs floors when they need an extra hand. One drives a Maserati. I am thinking about applying. You have to write three letters, the first two are ignored.


I've never heard that! But then I've only experienced Texas Masonry. Here, we tell you to come on down and hang out on our unofficial "study nights", where we sit around, have pizza, and guys go off in small groups to study the ritual memorization work.

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.


Thanks for the correction. The female version is called Order of the Eastern star in case anyone is wondering where to join. I just met one recently actually. Really sweet lady.


How are the membership numbers changing over time?

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


Trending downwards, just like any social fraternity (OddFellows, etc). People are more interested in going online these days than having to attend actual meetings and so forth. The Masons' peak membership was in the 1950s.


Do you know if there are any US branches that aren't pushing the religious angle anymore? My mentor tried to encourage me to join when I was younger (I was a carpenter's assistant), but I rejected it out of hand due to the religious angle. I don't particularly care about the ceremony of the thing (I was the president of a fraternity and had to recite a bit of prayer during weekly meetings), but AFAIK the only atheist accepting lodges are in France.


Not any that are going to be recognized as "regular" and adhere to the "Landmarks" of Freemasonry:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Masonic_Landmarks

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.


The voting method sounds inspired by ancient Greece.


Thanks. These are exactly the kinds of examples I was looking for.


I'm a British Freemason. I joined because I was intrigued as to what it was about, and my old school had a lodge for past pupils. In England there are many lodges for different groups of people. In the city where my lodge meets there are other school lodges, lodges for musicians, farmers, university, rotarians, scouts and those who have been a Worshipful Master of a lodge along with lodges that have a more general makeup of 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.


One of the reasons I joined was that my grandfather (not by blood, but he married my grandmother after my real gramps passed) was a fine outstanding man, a 32nd degree Mason, and well regarded in his community. He provided for my college education, etc.

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.


It’s important to note that most responses here will come from Americans, who aren’t exactly known for their Masonic ideological purity.

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.


Could you elaborate?


It is ignorant and defamatory to imply European Freemasonry is in any way comparable to neo-Nazism. Indeed, the Nazis suppressed Freemasonry because it opposed Nazism. It is obvious that the majority of the parent commenter's supposed knowledge about Freemasonry ultimately comes from a long line of anti-Masons who lie about the fraternity because of ideological disagreement with the craft or because the craft makes a convenient scapegoat. The latter is especially prominent in Turkey, which may be relevant here given a post about Turkish orthography in the parent poster's history. If there were any specific allegations to rebut, I'd gladly do so. However, vague allegations are impossible to counter.

This does not belong on Hacker News. Flagged.


The thing I don't get is, and probably I'll be downvoted to hell because of that, even though this guy lied about his past, his knowledge is solid. Nobody can guess what the interviewers will ask you and from what I've read from the text he aced those.

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.


I applaud that you give this comment. Your comment seems indeed controversial, but you gave it in a thoughtful manner and you dared to give it. This is what I like about HN: thoughtful comments that may be controversial but are relevant even at the risk of one's own reputation.

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[1], 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?

[1] 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.


What are you even talking about? His opinion is not remotely controversial. Every populist hivemind drone on this site contends some form of this argument. Not a single person is (at least, getting upvoted) DEFENDING high or reasonable hiring bars - that is a controversial opinion.


That seems like a misreading of the question. The bar is high, and he cleared it, but was invited to try because of his fraudulent credential.


I'm not misreading it at all.

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.


And then we also hear entreaties from employers that there is a shortage of programmers and policy changes are needed, a position that looks less sympathetic in light of a tendency to only hire experienced candidates.


There are no doubt hypocrisies and fallacies on both sides, employers included. I am certainly not arguing against that. That's a different debate, though.

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.


His knowledge is solid, sure, but would you really want to work with someone who has such a strong inclination to cheat and deceive? I certainly wouldn't.


I think OPs point is, or maybe that's just my point, that in general and broader terms there should not be such a pressure to begin with. OP gave an example that even the best felt/feel it.

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.


So what's your solution? UBI? Because when a person's ability to make money and take care of themselves is on the line, in competing for a job against other candidates, there will ALWAYS be high levels of pressure.

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.


> there will ALWAYS be high levels of pressure.

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.


He adapted to an unfavourable situation, studied hard, did his research well and passed multiple tests - I'd gladly work with someone like that


And when the solution to the next unfavorable situation he faces involves railroading you? Liars lie and cheaters cheat. You might be fine if you're never their target, but you never know when you will be.


Well said. These types of people are driven by an extreme arrogance that manifests itself as the justification for any bad behavior. Ultimately they believe they are always right, so if they have to lie in order to get you fired, that's fine, because clearly your crazy ideas are a threat to everyone's livelihood, and it would just be better for everyone if you were gone from the office, they just don't know it yet, but I have a knack for these things that others seem to lack, so I'll take it upon myself to engineer your firing.


The companies they're applying to are engaged in behavior that is just as bad, so these "catfishers" are just creatively adapting to the unfavorable situation that employers have collectively created.


You're right. Still wouldn't hire them.


Exactly this. You have to be very naive and sheltered to not recognize this as being the case.


Such people make the homework, research well and then user result to blame you for their fault exactly when you cant defend yourself or claim your achievements for themselves.

That sort of behavior can be pretty poisonous for whole team.


You are either trolling or incredibly naive. Nothing good will come of working with someone like this.

EDIT: someone that spends that much effort lying has a good chance of being a sociopath.


I don't know. And given his ability I'd like to know. So if it were up to me I'd call him back in, confront him, and ask why he did it. I'd make my decision after that.


I thought for sure the story was going to be an Aesops Fable moral story along the lines of discrimination against trans people is illegal and wrong and the "rest of the story" is Susan's first name was Jack until six months ago, therefore no one has any idea who Susan is.

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?


Dude, no. Someone who would lie this much to get what he wants will lie when you're working with him.

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.


He was applying to a sales position. Sales is fundamentally about lying to potential customers to sell them stuff.


It's very sad that you believe that. It doesn't have to be, and shouldn't be in my opinion. That's a tactic immoral people resort to and make excuses like "Everybody does it." for their behavior.


You don't think it has to be? Honestly, I don't know; I'm not in sales at all so this is my off-the-cuff opinion from outside, but it sure seems to me that the entire profession of sales is all about dishonesty. Whether it has to be or not, I don't know: how successful would honest salespeople be really? If the dishonest ones are more successful long-term, then that means that companies that use dishonest salespeople will outcompete companies that don't. I don't know if it's really like this (a scientific study would be difficult, plus it could vary a lot by industry; what works for Best Buy or used car salespeople might not be the case for enterprise software or medical device sales), but I do suspect that, thanks to human nature and short-sightedness, dishonesty in sales probably does correlate with long-term success. Maybe the internet with all the online reviews will change this, as it gives people more information in evaluating merchants ("John at this store totally lied to me when he sold me Widget X!! Don't shop here!").


To get what he wants? Would that be a job?

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?


Yes, absolutely. If anything I err on the side of playing things down. I never want to promise something I can't deliver or tell someone I'm more than I am.

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.


Yes. Exaggeration and puffing yourself up, while tacky, is par for the course, and to be honest, it's likely to get good candidates closer to an accurate representation than not, since better people tend to underplay their abilities, often subconsciously (cf. Dunning-Kruger Effect). But falsifying references with fake phone numbers and email addresses, and then actually operating those numbers and emails and impersonating someone else, that's a whole 'nother ballpark and it likely crosses into fraud.

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.


I got the impression from the article that this was for a sales position - "AE role" - account executive. A good tech sales rep must have a solid understanding of the product and its place in the tech environment, but they also need to be trustworthy, to the benefit of both their employer and customer.


But if that's judged by the companies you've worked for, how do you get in if you didn't study at the right university or come from the right background?


I thought it was an After Effects role.


You only get once chance at a first impression. This applicant took the chance that a lie was a good first impression. Lying on an application is just a non-starter.


Indeed. But the guy did some fraud. Not stealing or something criminal (like poisoning a human). Then the guy should have been a good hire for the company? Well, it is complicated. Let's say you need an alpha male for a certain position. Do you pick someone with a sexual harassment history? I mean he might be alpha but then you are exposing your company to risks of this guy harassing other employees.

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.


Are you saying it's good to hire people who lie to get through the interview? What would they lie about on the job?

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. [0] 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.

[0] http://fraudtalk.blogspot.com/2009/11/former-california-soft...


Yeah but he did it to get the job not to defraud anyone. That's dedication not deceit. He wasn't pretending to be anybody else. He was probably rejected from a million jobs before this one despite presumably being extremely well prepared and qualified. So other options are there? Fudge the references, perform well and ask for forgiveness later. I say hire him. Not everybody has the luxury of a fancy education and the connections that come with it. Not everybody comes from an environment where they have the privilege of interaction with others in the field. Some of us come from nothing and educate ourselves independently. It's a shame that its nearly impossible to get one's foot in the door despite having ostensibly worked harder than many of those who were given a fair shot. Check your privilege.


I guess we'll have to agree to disagree. For me honesty ranks way higher up the scale for hiring than technical credentials. You can teach people technical skills. Good character not so much.

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.


Well, there's a big difference between a hiring manager and a company. A company wants to hire the best developer they can get; the hiring manager wants to get praised for making a "good hire" and avoid getting blamed for making a "bad hire".

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.


I guess it is because nobody ever got fired for buying IBM.


> However, I am glad that I caught it early before we hired him. If we had hired him, tough to say what could have happened. Maybe he would have been great and our best performing AE. Maybe he wouldn’t have even known how to log into Salesforce.

When you make it to the top by lying, you're considered a winner:

http://www.businessinsider.com/how-goldman-gary-cohn-got-to-...

> "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.


Them: "What level are you at with Javascript?" Me: "Intermediate to advanced." Reality: Hadn't written a single line of Javascript at the time Reality 1 week after hire: Best JS programmer there (to be fair, standards were intentionally very low and 2 weeks is plenty of time to pick up a new language) Reality After a Year: Employee of the year


You forgot to cite the continuation:

> 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.


>An even extraordinary example would be the current president of the united states

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


Does that make it any less extraordinary?


Everyone lies, because the interviewing process itself is a fucking joke, ESPECIALLY in the Bay Area.

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).


this is not a brag but I have never lied in an interview so I have to assume plenty of others have never lied. I have not exaggerated either or told white lies during an interview. Not saying I never lie but never in an interview. If I don’t know sonething I say so. I might follow with “but I can probably figure it out” or “but I think it’s ...” or “I don’t know off the top of my head but it’s the type of thing I look up every few years, implement once, then use the implementation until the next job and promptly forget the details” etc...


I don’t lie either, but rarely get job offers, so I should probably start.


I get plenty but I'm willing to believe much of that was luck early in my career when I had no "job" experience. Met the right people. Was at the right place at the right time. Got lucky my parents supported my hobby. Etc.

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.


Junior high? No wonder you didn't have problems getting a break, you'd been working towards it since childhood.

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.


> Everyone 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.


For literal people like myself the line between a lie such as "my biggest flaw is I work too hard" or "I have never used illegal drugs" and a lie like "I worked at Acme Corp" can seem thin.


Please explain to me how "this person worked here" compares to "I never inhaled". These two statements do not equalize for me.


Totally similar things. Drugs are irrelevant for doing the job and same is work experience. What matters is skills but they can't be measured most of the time so proxy value "experience" has been invented. But everyone knows that it is only a proxy thing and that very likely you won't be hired if you can do the job but can't "prove" it. So social moral value of lying about work experience has fallen to insignificant levels, for majority of jobs. The only thing stopping people from lying about experience part is fear of getting caught or no need to do it in the first place.


Exactly. I've been pretty lucky in that I've had a lot of good experience, so my lying is with other things, such as making people think I plan to stick around at their company for a really long time when that's very unlikely.

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.


They are both lies, but they are different since they aren't equal violation of the social contract. When an interviewer wants to know my biggest weakness, they don't actually want to know my biggest weakness, they want to know how I handle answering a political question where too much honesty is a bad thing. They want me to lie, but only so much. Saying something like 'I work too hard' is too big a lie. Bringing up something that is a real but minor workplace weakness and what I do to avoid it is the lie they want, and bringing up a real weakness is being too truthful.

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.


Ok if you make up 10% or 15% but faking references is like all alarms going off. I know it is creative and he had to put in effort to pull it off. But it is not like I would give such person access to any company documents. Account Executive has to have access to invoicing and customer database. If guy makes such fake accounts and all that stuff I can imagine he is going to try to steal company data and run away with it or sell it to competition.

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...


For sure someone that lies to me in the face has not the right attitude. I honestly cannot understand how you can trust someone that lies to get a job. And I can definitely say that you are completely wrong if you think that everyone lies. I never lied to an interview and frankly I can’t imagine why I should do it. It’s a really sad world if lying to get a job seems normal.


It seems normal to me.

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?


You can let the new employer know that you didn’t feel comfortable with the previous manager. And if he asks for the reason you can explain why. It happened to me in the past.


Fabricating emails and phone numbers, getting others to act like your boss and lie for you is quite far over the line of just "lying in an interview".

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.


I worked in a film processing store (before the turn of the century), and one of my workmates there told me how he'd set up a friend to pretend to be a former boss for him. Said friend forgot, my workmate was called in to the business and they told him they would ring the police if they ever heard his name again. Apparently there was swearing.

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.


Will you report him to the school to save potential patients’ lives?


Well, it was almost 20 years ago and I only heard about it long after I'd forgotten his name. Without an actual conviction, I don't think my word would carry much weight and could just cause me a lot of trouble.

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.


[dead]


Why you want to avoid it? His response seems reasonable to me. When you have companies posting obvious lies like requiring 5 years in a 1 year old techonology, the whole process just becomes a lot of surreptitious winking as both sides knowingly lie to each other


as an aside to the conversation. I am continuing to get up an down votes on this comment, long after the comment I replied to was flagged. 'dang, are votes queued up in the hacker news system or is there another reason for this behavior?


People who have "showdead" enabled in their profile can see flagged or dead comments and their replies, and can vote on those replies.

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 have "showdead" enabled, I see the comment, but I can't vote.


It's strange to me how much linkedin is valued in silicon valley because to me it's like the ugly stepsister of social networking. Expecting someone to have a fully built out profile and expecting that person to actively seek out contacts in their own company is strange. I typically seek out contacts either when I first meet them or not at all. The only rhyme or reason to when I do it is when I happen to have a reason to be on linkedin. People are very haphazard about what their contacts look like. Some people have 50% recruiters, some people it's all friends, some people it's work colleagues, some people it's potential clients. Just because you know somebody doesn't mean that you are linkedin friends, and just because you aren't linkedin friends, doesn't mean that that person knows much about you at all.

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.


Indeed. My LinkedIn account has a few contacts, but they're each a combination of two rare events:

- 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.


I'm not really surprised at how heavily linkedin is used. It's an easy check for companies to carry out, so they'll make use of it.

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.


I suppose I phrased things a bit harshly. I see value in LinkedIn from a candidate/networking perspective. From a validation/reference perspective is where I see the issue.

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.


One thing to keep in mind for this article is that it's for a sales position where contacts are a very valued resource


For what it’s worth I have never had a LinkedIn account and it’s never come up in interviews or been any sort of problem. Maybe things are different in SV though.


Maybe the author should evaluate _why_ they got catfished.

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?


>someone who apparently otherwise would have been a great candidate

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.


Everyone is lying at work to some degree. That's what office politics is all about, even though it is not straight lying.

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!)


This is really a reductio ad absurdum. But if you think your boss is dishonest with you, then go find a new boss. Dishonesty instantly destroys trust, and unless it’s about something entirely trivial, it’s almost impossible to restore it.

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).


I think what you are really saying is that you will fire people for lies bigger than a specific "threshold", which I understand and agree with.

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:

https://www.telegraph.co.uk/men/thinking-man/11652018/10-que...


That’s not really what I’m saying at all. Every lie you tell jeopardises the trust you have amongst others. You might not get caught, and if you do, you may not damage the trust irreparably depending on the magnitude of the lie.

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.


You ever politely laugh at something you really didn't find all that funny?

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.


"Some amount of dishonesty is required if you want to avoid being an awkward social pariah."

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.


>Actually that's not true. It is possible to be completely sincere, yet tactful

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.


Avoiding answering a question directly does not make you dishonest.

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.


>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.

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.


> >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.

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 ]


Is it more of a lie to make a statement that is literally true but the meaning is incorrectly interpreted, or more of a lie to make a statement that is literally untrue but the meaning is correctly interpreted?

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.


In my opinion, answering with "thank you for making it" should be equivalent in everyone else's brains to "well, that wasn't very good".

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.


Maybe something is being lost in the lack of tone, but I don't in any way believe that anwsering "thank you for making it" could be construed as being selfish.

And it has absolutely nothing to do with ego, it's about being kind to others.


Tone has nothing to do with the fact that you were asked a question and you responded with a non-answer. And anyone can notice that, and the intention there-in.

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.


It's not selfish at all, however anyone who isn't a complete idiot will realize that it's a dodge to answering the question of whether you liked the food. You risk an uncomfortable exchange and negative social consequences with a move like this. It's much easier to just lie and tell granny that her crappy food was good and move on to another topic. And really, saying "it was good" isn't a complete lie: it could have been worse, much worse (assuming the food didn't give you food poisoning or kill you outright), and "good" is a relative term.


Some might see it as question dodging, which often implies the negative.


There's a difference between avoiding answering a question to prevent hurting someone's feelings, and doing so just to put yourself in a positive light (for selfish reasons). The scenario I was envisioning was the former.

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.


In this scenario you were asked one question, but answered another when saying "thank you for making it", because you didn't want to deal with the social fallout of actually telling the truth to the original question.

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 actually very simple, and not at all mental gymnastics.

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.


Talking to people is not computer code. In this admittedly contrived situation, they are looking for you to say it's good. You give an answer _to a different question_. Either people realize and you've violated the social expectation or they don't realize and you've misdirected them. Avoiding the question in a way that's misleading people has the same result as a lie even if not technically 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


"Talking to people is not computer code."

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).


You didn't say that talking to people was like computer code, you are describing talking to people like it's computer code so it is relevant.

>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


> You didn't say that talking to people was like computer code, you are describing talking to people like it's computer code so it is relevant.

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.


>That's your opinion, which I disagree with. So from my view it is still irrelevant.

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).


Dishonesty is about misleading somebody, regardless of what you say. You can say 100% truthful things and still mislead people, which is still dishonest. A common method of dishonesty is by omitting important things. We are saying that we feel that your response is sidestepping the question asked of you, which is dishonest by omission, because this omission misleads. Communication is about more than the words you say.


While it is true that you can mislead by omission, every ommission of information is not an attempt to be dishonest.

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.


My point is that some people will always see avoiding answering questions negatively, no matter what way you feel it should be seen. You can’t control how other people interpret your acitons or intentions, they may not match up with what you want, and in my personal experience, people tend to see avoiding answering a question (either by sidestepping it or by counter-questioning) negatively, if they notice it.


>Actually that's not true. It is possible to be completely sincere, yet tactful

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."


Is this satire? This isn't tactful at all. It comes across as a completely passive aggressive.

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.


This seems like pedantic wordplay to me. Laughing at something I didn't really find funny is not even in the same league as lying about having worked somewhere where you didn't, and providing a false recommendation in order to get a job.


I’m very worried that so many people here seem to think it’s impossible to be empathetic with people without being dishonest.


Surely you've had this conversation numerous times throughout your life with people who hold this opinion. You clearly disagree with it, but it's common enough that you shouldn't be surprised by it.

Philosophers have debated this question for millennia--it's nothing new.

>empathetic with people without being dishonest

Empathy and honesty are orthogonal.


“Speak the truth, but ride a fast horse.”

A proverb on the subject.


> Some amount of dishonesty is required if you want to avoid being an awkward social pariah.

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.


> at least where I live

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.


Some people seem to think that people will lie about small things, but not big things. I kind of think that if you are willing to compromise your integrity for something small, you are definitely going to lie on the big things when the stakes are higher.


I'm generally inclined to agree with that sentiment. But I do have a much stronger reaction to a lie when it directly undermines trust I have placed in somebody. If a colleague or employee tells me a lie about their personal life, I'm not going to feel as strongly about it as if they were to lie to me about something related to work. I don't trust my colleagues to tell me detailed and accurate information about their personal life, but I do trust them to do their work with honesty and integrity. Although any lie is still going to undermine trust in general to some extent.


[citation needed]

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.


The first person people lie to is themselves. For a person that doesn't have a personal commitment to integrity, when they are placed in a position where they are incentivized to lie, they will first convince themselves that this lie is either harmless (we are going to lose the account anyway, what is the point of getting everyone mad at me) or the lie is for a good cause. Once that is done, usually unconsciously, then they can tell the lie.

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 :)


So exactly how do you think your friend should have handled it? Tell his employer he was checking out a potential new job? How do you think that would have gone? You think someone of "integrity" needs to ruin their current employment every time they even think about finding a new job?


This is another problem with people who lie, it actually takes practice to be both truthful and tactful, and they don't even know how to do it. It's crazy to me that I have to say this, but as has already been stated in this thread, being truthful doesn't mean you have to constantly spew everything you are thinking, stream of consciousness style. You just don't mislead people.

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?


>being truthful doesn't mean you have to constantly spew everything you are thinking, stream of consciousness style. You just don't mislead people.

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.


> personal commitment to integrity

Psychology seems to be way more complex than "once a liar always a liar". Some citation of psychological research would help.


I didn't make that claim. What I am implying though, is that in order to be a person of integrity I do believe it takes some forethought. In the heat of the moment, when you are very incentivized to lie, everything is going to be pushing you to take the easy way out and you will. If, however, you have thought about it, and made a decision before these moments even occur, you have a chance. Even then I don't think you will always be successful.

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."


I find that people who work really hard to convince people that "everyone lies" are usually the biggest liars. So my advice: Stop lying, and stop trying to normalize lying.

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 not lying; that's just normal social etiquette.

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.


If you read the listicle I was responding to, the "how are you?" "fine" interaction is the only clear-cut example of that. Even then, there's a distinction between non-literal communication and dishonesty.

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).


It sounds like you are arguing with a concept you believe I'm representing rather than what I actually wrote.


You're responding to me. And no, I don't think you've established that normal social etiquette is "dishonest" in any meaningful sense.


Here is what you wrote.

>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 apologize if I misunderstood; I think the context of threaded conversations sometimes implies a disagreement when one may not necessarily exist.

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....


Expressions like the American greeting "How are you?" are examples of phatic expressions (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phatic_expression), meaning that they are functional as opposed to communicative. Although they take the form of communicative statements, in this case an interrogative, they are really not. Understanding this distinction was very helpful for me, letting me answer "fine" with no ethical concern when asked this sort of question in quotidian encounters such as checking out of a grocery store. I don't think there is any dishonesty in that. Again, the speaker is not really asking the question, but performing a social ritual, and they neither expect nor wish a reply to its literal form.

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.


Polite dishonesty is no less a social ritual than polite laughter or mild praise for food you didn't really like. Most people don't expect you to be honest. To be considered polite, you must occasionally be dishonest because that is what is socially acceptable.

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.


If it really bothers you to "lie" and say, "fine", just reflect the question back. "Hi, how are you?". You'll see how it wasn't intended as a real question.

The Sopranos version is, Q: "How you doin'?" ... A: "How YOU doin'?"


There is such a thing as pragmatics[1] where the same words might mean different things in different situations. For any normal human being trying to communicate honestly their speech will be full of things that are wrong or don't strictly make sense but both partners in a conversation have to interpret each other generously for a conversation to proceed. "I spent the entire day doing paperwork!" has to be interpreted as the person spending the bulk of their productive day on paperwork, it doesn't mean that they never slept or ate to any reasonable person. If an answer promotes accurate beliefs then that's a good honest answer. If someone refuses to impart information in their answer then that's their right. If they promote inaccurate beliefs in their answer that's dishonesty.

[1]https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/pragmatics/


You're completely ignoring misleading people through telling factually correct statements. If you ignore the intent of what you want people to believe, you're going to wind up being less honest than people who focus on that but don't need to have every tiny detail be exactly true.


I don't think I'm ignoring it. Most of the scenarios in the listicle where "misleading people through telling factually correct statements" is a tempting options (e.g. reporting misconduct or providing constructive criticism) are the ones where I recommend not doing that.


Have you ever been part of lay offs on the employer side? Any single company whose done that action has lied as they led their employees to believe that they would be working on some project for a while, while simultaneously planning to let them go. That's just a single example of a common lie in companies, and there are more like "we follow best practices", until those practices start costing money.

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.


I actually have been. I informed people as soon as I could, and sent them home immediately without telling a single lie. To some extent this comment also tries to paint withholding information that people aren’t entitled to as lying. Which are absolutely not the same thing.

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.


"as soon as I could". That's not "as soon as I knew".

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


Lying is NOT withholding information that people aren’t entitled to. You’re trying to win an argument by changing what the words mean. If somebody confides in me with a secret, am I a liar if I don’t immediately rush off and tell it to all concerned parties? No, I’m not. You’re trying to confuse honesty with openness, and specifically in this case, as an obligation to disclose privileged information.


I think your definition of lieing allows for an unlimited amount of misdirection based on a literal interpretation of lieing.

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


You're constructing a fantasy reality for yourself where words mean whatever you want them to, and where I personally did a series of things that you literally just made up.

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.


None of my arguments were strawmen. The three examples I gave were things I personally saw go down at companies I worked at by people with your same viewpoint. I have not worked with anyone who stated that they never lied who did not act like they were a genie from a fairy tale and anything but a lawyer drafted contract to them was means to manipulate someone as far as possible.

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


The line does get blurry at times. In the past I've been told to remove someone's account right away because they are being terminated and then afterwards been told "nevermind, we're firing them next week. Undo everything and make sure that you convince them it was just some computer issue". To add to it they didn't tell me about it until the user had already noticed they couldn't log into their account.

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.


>If people told literally no lies our society would fall apart.

Concur. Imagine if we could all read each other's minds: things would go downhill in a New York zeptosecond.


> If you think your boss is lying to you, go find a new boss.

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.


>managers regularly and transparently lie

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.


There are many, the majority I would say. But I’m not defending dishonesty in the least.

It does seem supercilious though, declaring yourself to be so honorable while basically bragging (it seems to me) about firing people.


Everybody tells Harry his new gold watch looks great, or whatever, but legally actionable fraud is pretty rare, and a huge red flag.


> Everyone is lying at work to some degree.

Maybe, but rarely to the degree that this guy did.


Maybe he had the choice between the truth which would've never gotten him even to a phone interview, or lying where he apparently aced all interviews. Sounds like someone who is great but doesn't have the CV people are looking for. For those it's really hard to get in but companies can be glad when they hire them (since they're cheaper for that reason).


That door swings both ways. I'm mostly honest as a personal principle, but I don't believe my employers are all that worthy of receiving the benefit from that. They have lied to me in one way or another far more often, and with far greater magnitude, than I have ever lied to them.

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.


>Dishonesty is an intolerable trait.

He applied for a sales job... Some (NOT ME!!!!1!) would argue that dishonesty is a mandatory trait in that occupation

ducks


> Dishonesty is an intolerable trait.

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.


That's a bit of a tautology. You first have to be aware of the existence of something in order to then tolerate it.

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.


> You first have to be aware of the existence of something in order to then tolerate it.

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.


> Lying at work is just about the only thing I'll always fire somebody for.

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.)


It's getting caught that's the intolerable trait, let's be honest. Depends on the financial gain tied to the lie.


The cia would not welcome you.


You’re ignoring that fact that honesty is expected in some contexts and not in others. In business it’s not dishonest to withhold information from you’re competitors, or to even make a bluff in front of them. In the CIA it’s not dishonest to withhold information from your adversaries, or even manipulate them to your advantage depending on the context. Although I’m sure many CIA employees practice moral relativism to some extent.

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.


No those are completely dishonest, especially when it becomes active bluffing/manipulation. It's nit less dishonest when a lie is useful to you. You might maybe morally justify it, but it's deliberately saying things that conflict with the facts, and that is the very definition of lying.

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.


So you've never lied at work?


No, I haven’t. Is dishonesty something you’d like to defend?


Sure, you get what you give.

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.


You've walked into work and told your boss that he was a fucking moron when you saw something that angered you immediately? Lieing about feelings is a basic human skill. If you never lied you would be a constant stream of unsociable behaviour that would get you shunned

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


A lie is saying something that's not true. It's not suppressing the a compulsion to act like a total jackass, no matter how much you really want to. If my boss asked me for an opinion on something I thought was a bad idea, I'd express my thoughts (with empathy). Honesty is not immediately blurting out every thought that passes through your mind, and it's not dishonest to withhold information that people aren't entitled to. You're (perhaps intentionally) confusing honesty with openness. Sometimes it takes courage to be honest, but in my opinion, there's more dangers in dishonesty.


I've never thought my boss was a "fucking moron". While there have been things that have made me frustrated or irritated, I believe I have enough maturity, and so does he, that we can talk like adults and either come to a compromise or better understand their actions/decisions and them understand mine.

I don't know what kind of world you live in where not blurting out the first insulting comment is considering lying...


Holding your tongue does not make you a liar.

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".


This doesn't hold up. Unless a candidate is single-mindedly targeting the author's company -- like, they get rejected and come back with a fake resume -- then they decided to fake a resume before talking to the author. The author can't fix the societal experience the candidate has been having, and you have no sign that they filtered unfairly.

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.


I don't know about you, but I couldn't finish the article. From the beginning, something irked me and it didn't feel like the author is completely innocent here. One thing that irked me a little is seeing the candidate worked at her previous company made her instantly like him. Once I got to the unnecessary admission the manager uses what even they consider as "unkosher" tactics to learn about the background of potential hires, I immediately closed the tab. I finished it later, but this is the same attitude we see from many managers: they set up poor systems, and get upset when those systems fail, like in this article, and there is no introspection on their part.


There is nothing wrong with considering a shared previous employer a "plus"; the hiring manager knows the employer so if a candidate was good enough for them, there's some reason to think they're good enough for you. If the work environments are similar it could also mean getting them up to speed more quickly.

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.


Asking people who weren't listed as references can cause all kinds of trouble.

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.


"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".


>would try to pursue legal action against the employer (even though they had no case whatsoever)

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.


Neither of those things is relevant to the point I was making. The legal costs often incurred by firing someone (and they are very real) makes it more difficult to fire them. Also, the time spent by employers dealing with legal issues is very expensive also.

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).


>Neither of those things is relevant to the point I was making. The legal costs often incurred by firing someone (and they are very real) makes it more difficult to fire them.

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.


If you are speaking on experience, yours is much different than the person I was speaking of.

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.


> asking all of your contacts about someone

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.


>That escalated quickly.

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.


Managers don't have to be OK with it, they just can't retaliate. I'm a manager and I'm totally okay with it, they're employees, not slaves. I've seen no indication from my fellow managers that anyone had a big problem with people looking.

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).


>but maybe university staff are generally more humane

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.


>insist that one be their a current manager

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!


Having a friend pretend to be your boss for a reference would be risky. I could look up the contact information you provide to see if it matches the manager's name, I could call a general number at the business to be connected to them. Is the friend supposed to answer the phone pretending to be someone else for an unknown period of time? There are many ways in which they could screw up their performance. This is real life, not TV.

If a candidate attempted that, I would definitely look into what options there are for consequences beyond not getting the job.


> I could look up the contact information you provide to see if it matches the manager's name, I could call a general number at the business to be connected to them.

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.


I don't automatically mistrust reference contact information provided, I'm just explaining some of the risks. The risk wouldn't end after the reference checks, the truth could come out at any time and could result in dismissal.

> 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.


>None of us are in a position to speak about what practices are prevalent in any sector.

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.


Just because you've gotten the the point of checking references doesn't mean the candidate is definitely going to accept your offer.

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.


> 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.


>I won't call without your consent

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.


> The way you wrote it, it seemed you were going to just call the employee's current manager.

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 [0] 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.

[0] http://www.askamanager.org/2013/01/can-a-prospective-employe...


I don't think it's illegal, but it still going to increase the chances that someone sues--still unlikely.

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.


> 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

how benevolent of you


> One thing that irked me a little is seeing the candidate worked at her previous company made her instantly like him.

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.).


I don't know that I've ever worked at a place that would bias Mr towards a candidate one way or another unless I worked with them. Either it was a small enough place that I knew everybody and could rate them based off of personal experience, or it was a big place and I don't know if this guy was on the team that wrote Project A which held the whole team back, or the guy on project B which had us getting new clients every week because it was made so well.

Just going, "oh he wored at the same company as me so I should like him" seems like a frat/sorority mentality


> Unless a candidate is single-mindedly targeting the author's company -- like, they get rejected and come back with a fake resume -- then they decided to fake a resume before talking to the author

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.


> who feel they have skills but lack credentials, but it is no excuse for falsifying info.

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 not just unethical, it's impractical, and the same reason applies to your take-home tests: if the first thing your employer asks you to do is something you want to outsource, what makes you think the tenth thing they ask you to do will be better?

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.


If they don't realize that they could just outsource the ten things, he's adding value, managing the overhead, and should get paid for doing that. Believe me, people do get paid to do that and it's considered a good career. People even get paid to sit on reddit for 6 hours of a day for $100k+.

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 tenth thing they ask you to do will be better?

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.


Ok so there is a work environment you respect and want to be part of, but there is an interview process in the way that you feel has nothing to do with the work environment and wastes your time, so deceiving them is self defense. Is outsourcing the take home test the only version of that which is ok, or is resume pumping etc ok too?

(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.)


A very small amount of people have such an abundance of opportunities.


this sounds very similar to a lot of dating advice i've received


Yes. This particular candidate should definitely not be hired, but there are probably some other great candidates who can "discuss the pros and cons of MEDDIC" or whatever but aren't getting an interview.


I wholeheartedly agree. The behavior itself should NOT be condoned but it is arguably understandable. Given the increasing pickiness of employers, candidate screening based on keyword and credential filtering, focus on who you know over what you know, and opaque/arbitrary hiring processes, I’m surprised we don’t see more of this. It’s no longer enough to be a good candidate. One needs to check every checkbox, AND be a star showman/orator under pressure in order to get past the multitude of gates blocking one from gainful employment.


In any other profession I would agree with the complete nonsense going on with hiring, but at least in IT (and at least in the bay area), there is such a demand for engineers that I don't see this going on too much except at some of the big shops (Google, Facebook etc) which are frontended with incompetent recruiters that only look at keywords.


Outside of Silicon Valley, there are many ridiculous hiring practices. On the east coast I have applied to multiple companies where I knew enough of the employees to get dinner with the team after. When we talked about hiring policies and practices all but one of those dinners ended up with a fight between the coworkers that fell into two teams of whether they should fail candidates over not wearing a suit because it showed they weren't professional or whether they should fail a candidate for wearing a suit because they valued looks over ability.

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.


I think this is a product of the relative immaturity of our industry, and the problems exist inside SV companies as well as outside.

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.


Agreed on the immaturity of our industry being a cause for problems. The industrial revolution took nearly 100 years to permeate through society and create standard practices for many industries. Computer technology and science has only been around for a little over half of that, and the fact that the majority of it is abstractions that our brains didnt evolve for as opposed to plain physics which we do have instincts for, appears to be making it harder for us to come to a consensus as to the right way to solve these problems


His work history is materially important to his evaluation as a candidate. He wasn't great in spite of his lies, he was great because of them.

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.


Yes, work history is almost always materially important, however, if you're using it as a gatekeeper, you're going to have a hard time hiring; especially if it's work history at a specific company.

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.


> How many great candidates are companies missing out on because of arbitrary filters?

A hell of a lot. And then they proclaim that there is a major shortage of workers.

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