Some time ago I had a technical job interview with Google. The invitation email had a line

our interview questions are confidential, so please keep things under wraps

Is this legally enforceable? I doubt that, as I did not sign any contract with Google. And this condition looks like "upon reading this you agree to following".


Can job interview questions be confidential? Is this legally enforceable?

It is lawful, unless the nature of questions is outlawed or hinting at illegal activity. For practical purposes, though, confidentiality would be hard to enforce because Google cannot realistically prevent you from disclosing those questions. Whether or not Google can remedy any breach of that clause, that is a separate and uncertain aspect.

Google's clause is binding only if you consent to it. Signing an NDA is not the only way to render confidentiality binding. Consent can be evidenced by anything that reflects your agreement to abide by that condition. It could be an email reply, or by subsequent conduct such as attending the interview with knowledge that constraint and without objecting to it.

The fact that you attended the interview after reading that email makes their clause binding unless you objected and they nonetheless conducted the interview.

  • Not too convinced that the NDA will be binding due to lack of consideration (that each party condescended to see each other at the interview to discuss terms of the prospective employment might be consideration for the NDA though).
    – Greendrake
    Jun 13 '19 at 23:07

Obviously Google is not the government and can not classify things. Sorry for the short answer, but that's what it is. Asking you to do something in an email is not binding or everyone would send crazy requests in emails. :)

If you actually sign and NDA though, you have to abide by it.

  • 1
    Yes, but private companies are allowed to have trade secrets and NDAs. I'm interested if they have any ground at all for such clause or is it up to my good will
    – user26182
    Jun 13 '19 at 14:33
  • You said you didn't sign an NDA in your question though.
    – Putvi
    Jun 13 '19 at 14:34
  • I did continue the interviewing process after reading that email, so that could be interpreted as agreement
    – user26182
    Jun 13 '19 at 14:38
  • An NDA is something you agree to and sign, not an email.
    – Putvi
    Jun 13 '19 at 14:40
  • 2
    This is incorrect. 1) you are conflating a violation of law (disclosing classified information) with a contractual violation (a contract to hold certain information in confidence). 2) An contract (including a contract to hold information in confidence) does not have to be a a signed document, as long as all the elements of a valid contract are met. To be sure having a written contract makes enforcing it a good deal easier, but the email record might be sufficient if Google wanted to take it to court. Jun 13 '19 at 18:27

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