Truthfully, Don’t Quit Your Day Job


While I never have (and never will) lie during an interview (my conscience would eat me up from the inside like a Ridley Scott alien), I’ve always pondered the ethics of truth-bending throughout the hiring process.

Take salary compensation, for example. It’s a negotiable factor between the prospective employee and employer that’s most likely triggered by the latter asking how much the former made in a previous role.

While this isn’t always the flow of the salary conversation, it definitely gives the candidate a bit of power in bending the truth to get a better benchmark compensation to work upwards from.

If the employer is willing to pay more for the prospective employee based on this adjustment, is it wrong? I would lean towards “no”, because I don’t think there are negative ramifications for either party. But I also didn’t do well at Philosophy in college, so there’s that, too.

And what about the flip-side? I’m sure employers fudge the job description plenty to make it more appealing to candidates, like a situation from my own experience: I was hired for a digital “marketing” internship my sophomore year of college. The first week I was there, all I did was make cold calls to try to sell office supplies. I was literally working for Michael Scott.

The second week I sheepishly approached the owner and gave him the “this wasn’t what I signed up for” speech.

Third week I was out of there. Ethical? Methinks not, in this case. But that could just be because I was burned and didn’t do very well in college Philosophy 101.

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Al is a marketer at HubSpot, a marketing software company in Cambridge, MA. He is the creator of Mink.

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