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I was wondering about the ethics of an interviewer asking to see your design notebooks in an interview.

First off, I'm not sure if it's even legal for someone to ask that, since many of the designs I have are covered by (Non disclosure Agreements) NDA'S with various companies which the interviewer is not a part of.

Secondly, I'm not sure if the request to review my notes is even ethical? Your design notebook is basically a screen shot of EVERYTHING you've worked on good, bad, right and wrong asking to see it is almost like asking to see your work email account from another company, in my opinion.

Guidance on this would be appreciated.

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    $\begingroup$ Anyone who does not respect an NDA, or someone's (including other companies) right to intellectual property will not respect you either. $\endgroup$ – Fred Oct 21 '17 at 15:20
  • $\begingroup$ I think you hit he nail on the head. That was what my gut was saying but not as well articulated $\endgroup$ – Diesel Oct 21 '17 at 15:27
  • $\begingroup$ wouldn't this be more applicable to the workplace SE? $\endgroup$ – L Selter Oct 23 '17 at 12:14
  • $\begingroup$ Possibly? It was specifically an engineering interview question (re: design book) and there's an ethics tag here so, I thought here made sense to be here. The engineering code of ethics is a bit more strict than in some other professions like say marketing. $\endgroup$ – Diesel Oct 23 '17 at 12:23
  • $\begingroup$ I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because this belongs over on one of the SE sites related to work/office issues. $\endgroup$ – Carl Witthoft Oct 23 '17 at 17:24
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Only offer work you wish to show and have the right to show.

If work is subject to an nda, then they should not ask and if they do, they should respect that you are under an nda...

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  • $\begingroup$ They should respect it. That's the part I wasn't sure if I was crazy or not. Thanks! $\endgroup$ – Diesel Oct 21 '17 at 15:28
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Although already answered, for such an interview question the best response would be to show them some portfolio containing a few sample design sketches, instead of NDA protected materials.

If they really wish to see a notebook related to a previous company, I would fear about their ethical basis.

I've been to several interviews as the interviewer. Occasionally, I've asked candidates to draw some sketches while explaining their previous experience or a technical topic. I would tell them especially not to explain anything proprietary. My motivation was to see how they explain their ideas through drawing and words. This practice both verifies the depth of their experience and helps understand the communication style and strength of the candidate.

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The simplest way to handle is if the work is propitiatory to your previous employer then indicated up front. Also remember looks like you are interviewing for a new position, so take the opportunity to ask if there anything that is of particular interest to the interviewer that you use alternative methods to answer the interviews questions.

Also, sometime interviewer ask this questions to validate how you protect propitiatory information. So if you offer up propitiatory information from previous employers, chances are you will also offer up their propitiatory information too.

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  • $\begingroup$ I had never even considered the question as a test! A bit shady of a test question since the candidate could get the impression that the employer doesn't care about IP or the candidates integrity. I suppose it would depend on how the interviewer responds to being turned down. Great take away $\endgroup$ – Diesel Oct 22 '17 at 14:51

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