A couple of weeks ago I read some Reddit thread full of people trading tips about how to lie in interviews and it will not leave my head. Suddenly I'm seeing this everywhere – people talking about lying in interviews like it's fine and normal. I am writing this in the hopes that I will be able to exorcise this demon and go back to my blissful pre-Reddit state where I believe that most people are honest most of the time.

(Yes, yes, people lie all the time – but I want to believe that it's rare that people are doing it as a deliberate strategy.)

Hi, by the way– I'm Nat Bennett, and you're reading Simpler Machines, a newsletter that's mostly about software development but like, the messy people parts of software development.

I didn't understand what it was going to do to me when I read it so I didn't save the exact thread but this gives you a general idea of the tone.

Lying in interviews: Where's your line?
by u/CamJames in recruitinghell

In it people say things like

  • "I have no line."
  • "Do companies have any lines?"
  • "There's no line, only believability."
  • "Don’t lie about shit that’ll come back to screw you over basically. Otherwise anything goes."

Fuck, people.

Live footage of me, reading this garbage:

Batman, breaking a rifle, says, "This is the weapon of the enemy. We do not need it. We will not use it".

I'm somewhat sympathetic to the "man I need the job" line but this "well a manager lied to me first?" thing – just play the fucking tape forward. Just put your anti-capitalist self-righteousness on hold for one goddamned second and think. If your model is "it's okay to lie if I've been lied to" then we're all knee deep in bullshit forever and can never escape Transaction Cost Hell.

It's not that I think this is easy or fair. And I don't mean "adopt a rigid and expansive definition of 'lie' that stops you from engaging in normal human social interactions."

But lying deliberately, as a strategy, will fuck you up, and it will fuck you up in ways that you don't even see. You will live in a world where everyone lies, all the time – because people who value integrity won't work with you. You will lose track of your self.

Okay. Phew. Is it out of my system? I hope it's out of my system.

While this is mostly self-indulgent nonsense, I do have a bit of actual advice that probably someone reading this is still early enough in their career that they haven't heard it yet.

If you want to be the kind of person who walks away from your job when you're asked to do something that doesn't fit your values, you need to save money. You need to maintain low fixed expenses.

Acting with integrity – or whatever it is that you value – mostly isn't about making the right decision in the moment. It's mostly about the decisions that you make leading up to that moment, that prepare you to be able to make the decision that you feel is right.

As always– I love reading e-mail from ya'll so if you have a comment or a question, write in, or leave a comment.

Jesus fuck though those people on Reddit are lunatics.

- Nat

Don't lie in interviews

If your model is "it's okay to lie if I've been lied to" then we're all knee deep in bullshit forever and can never escape Transaction Cost Hell.