This particular article grew out of a very interesting discussion I had with a married couple one late evening. As we were sitting down in the living room, enjoying a great bottle of wine and having casual conversation on the books we read, we found ourselves in the middle of an ardent conversation.

The couple was discussing the way people act at job interviews. It all initially revolved around Daniel Kahneman's amazing book "Thinking Fast and Slow", and the way that he describes the fictional System 1 and System 2 of the brain.

I would probably do the author wrong by trying to explain these systems in a few words. If you will find it intriguing, I am sure you will find time to read the book.

Nevertheless, for a short description see this article.

Now back to the late evening discussion.


The idea was that during a job interview, you are trying hard to project some impression upon the person holding the interview. First you think you know what the company is looking for and that is what the interviewer is probably looking to find in you (ex. team player, leader and so on). Obviously, you are suppose to be good at activities or calculations that are part of the basic job description as well. The dilemma is that if you do good with one task, you will most certainly be worse at the second task. There is a workaround, but you can read about it also in the above mentioned article (see public speeches example).

So, the question of the couple was : Is projecting an impression equal to lying ?

Man kissing Woman hand

At first, I tended to agree with the woman which supported the affirmative. After all, in the best case scenario, if you tell partial truths , it is considered sometimes to be equal to lying. But then, the man supplied an argument that change my point of view. Opposite to the interview example, imagine that the male in a couple has a way of expressing himself that is considered inadequate by the female. If the male were to address the female in the way she prefers, it would be as if he would alter his behavior to make the conversation more pleasant for her, yet sending the same message across.

So lets compare the two examples. When you gallantly subduing yourself to honestly act or express something in the way your loved one prefers, you are regarded as a respecting gentleman. But when doing something similar in the interview situation, some might consider you fake or a lier because your ultimate goal is to land the job.

In both cases, it seems to me that the ultimate goal is not to lie, but to come across as pleasant.

Food for though.