10 August 2007

A question of disclosure

Recently, I had an interview for a job at a local bookstore. During the interview, I was asked to name some of my all-time favorite books, those that had had a major impact on my life.

I wanted to name The God Delusion as one of them, but I didn't know how something like that would come across. So I went with The Selfish Gene instead, figuring I could get in my appreciation of Dawkins without necessarily blowing the cover on my atheism.

I am open and honest about my atheism. You'll notice that I blog under my real name. And yet, I felt apprehensive about making my atheism a topic of direct conversation during a job interview. It's not even that I didn't want my prospective employer to know I was an atheist (heck, all he'd have to do is google me). But I didn't want him to think of me as unprofessional for bringing my atheism into the workplace. And I have to wonder, would I have been as worried about appearing unprofessional for sharing an experience as a Christian?

The workplace is hardly the ideal atmosphere for matters like religion and politics, to be certain. But when an interviewer is trying to get a sense of who you are, what do you do? Did I demonstrate good tact, or did I just chicken out?

What would you have said if you were in the same situation? Have you ever had to make similar checks on voicing your opinions on religion?

(And in case you're wondering, I didn't get the job. Apparently they went with candidates who had previous bookstore experience, which is understandable.)

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