Truth be told.

A reader posed this question to me:

I’m applying for a job at an environmental non-profit. They liked my resume and sent me a questionnaire to fill out. One of the questions is, “Please name one issue that you are following closely in the news and tell us why that issue is of interest to you. (up to 3 sentences only)”

Which would be better: telling about the issue I’ve been keeping a closest eye on, i.e. same-sex marriage legislation, or saying I’ve been watching the climate bill even though I’ve barely paid attention to it until I read up on some of it today?

The same-sex marriage one I can easily explain why it’s of interest to me. The climate bill would be possible but more difficult.


You should never mislead or lie on an application. And I’m not gonna get on my soapbox and tell you why lying is bad. From a job seeking perspective, it’s because if for some reason it comes up in your interview, hiring managers are going to see right through it. You HAVEN’T been following up on this climate change issue and they’re going to know. On the other hand, since you do know so much about same-sex marriage legislation, if they ask you to go into more detail, you’ll be able to expand on it and explain why you’re so interested in it.

While saying what you think they want to hear may get you the interview, the people you’ll be meeting with will expect an environmentalist in person. Since it’s not really who you are, you’re not going to present that when you’re face to face.

I think honesty is your best bet here. If there’s any way of putting something down in a comments section, I might write something like this: “I’ve been following same-sex marriage legislation closely for years because it has personal importance to me, but I am very concerned with the environment,  the impact that I have on it and learning more about sustainable practices.” At least that’s the truth.

Ever had a dilemma like this related to an application or an interview? What’d you decide? How did it pan out? Let me know in the comments.


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