I was struck with something of an odd situation earlier this year. I went to a series of job interviews at a company that appeared to fit what I was looking for in all departments. Their mission, the pay, the role I was interviewing for were all exactly that I was seeking. Not to mention the fact that I genuinely felt that someone with my skill set, market knowledge and connections could make a significant impact on the company’s growth.
They offered me a job, and I ended up rejecting their offer. I know that might sound a little peculiar, but let me explain. I rejected their job offer for two reasons:
My engineering background and specialization in high definition surveillance isn’t terribly common, so I did have a couple of opportunities on the table. That was certainly part of it. But the real factor that swayed me was the fact that they lied and didn’t confess until the end of the second interview.
You see, the company is a startup in the relatively recent nano-sat trend. Nanosats are small low-cost satellites that orbit the Earth, many of which exist to take high definition photos of places and events on Earth. The company I intended on working for claim on their site that they have one of these devices in space already. They confirmed this over the phone when we first began interacting (a month before my first interview).
Eventually, I came to discover that they didn’t actually have a satellite in space and had barely secured a deal to get one up in space a year from then. They didn’t have a good reason for lying to me and the public, which is what really struck a nerve. I didn’t know these people. I don’t have a long-standing relationship with anyone at the company. They’re foreign to me. I don’t have a lot to go on aside from what they exude on their website and in person.. and maybe what’s stated on public records, if I’m feeling particularly keen on research.
If they could lie to me about something so central to their business (and only fess up when I ask for details), what else might they be lying about? What else is missing? Maybe their mission isn’t as aligned with what I want to do as I initially thought.
When it comes to in-demand and specialized skills, employees tend to hold a lot of cards. It isn’t just about what the employer’s looking for, employees have significant influence over the job market, especially in engineering. This is something that’s often underestimated by the workforce due to insecurities. Indeed, the data supports that when it comes to a company’s brand, potential employees care about honesty more than anything else (78% of people rated honesty as what they cared most about in a potential employer, more than job security and reputation).
What’s funny is that I probably wouldn’t have thought at all about honesty as an important quality in the company I’m going to work for prior to this experience, but now I know better. And the more of my friends I told my story to, the more of them told me of a similar experience that affected the way they think of an employer.
It’s an interesting little phenomenon that seems to happen, and when you know more about the company that you’re planning on working for, you’ll probably end up happier in the long-run and advance further in your life. For me, that’s a lesson learned.