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Ask Amiqus - How To Honour An NDA While Job Hunting

27/04/17

NDA Restrictions are most typically around creative elements and intellectual property and are in place to protect either unique concepts or the ownership of known characters and franchises.

These are essentially about not revealing secrets which could have an impact on the commercial success of the game. Studios have to protect themselves from the risk of lost revenue. This could occur if new ideas fell in to the hands of competitors who then bring it to market faster, or if a carefully staged marketing campaign was undermined by a premature leak of a new direction or reveal. 

First of all, take a good look at the paperwork so you are sure what the NDA covers; you need to know what you can and can’t reveal before you start. It’s easy to feel that an NDA will be a big restriction, but this doesn’t need to be the case. If your NDA covers working practices this is more difficult to navigate than IP-related covenants, but with a bit of forethought things employers want to learn about you in a job interview can be separated away from the specifics you need to protect. 

When job-hunting, it’s a good idea to imagine you are in a hiring manager’s shoes to get a sense of what they want to see from you. You will need to show them what you’ve got what they are looking for. The main key is to present your contribution to a project based on the skills and techniques that you applied during the process rather than focusing on the end product. Concentrate on what you can say, not what you can’t. For this you will not need to be specific about the game but you may need to think about some descriptive language to explain how your work contributed to it’s success. If you are unable to provide examples of your recent work you can suggest that you are happy to undertake a test to fully demonstrate your skills.

Don’t forget that as well as your skills, your responsibilities are a key part of showing your suitability for a job. Things like meeting tough deadlines, delivering assets or code, running scrum meetings, team management, mentoring, concept-generation or quality control are non-specific but can show your value. You can also speak about how your work fitted in with the team, what level of pressure you handled, the extent of the ideas that you contributed (rather than what they actually were) and how your performance was measured next to how you performed. Brainstorm as much as you can, write it down and tick off what’s ok to say and what needs re-phrasing. If you are preparing for an interview, you might even want to rehearse describing some elements of your role to a friend so you can be confident in not putting your foot in it when you are under pressure on the day.

You may have poured a lot of blood, sweat and tears into bringing an IP to life and refraining from detailing your exact involvement can be tough, especially when you are proud of the work. However honouring an NDA is about protecting IP that doesn’t belong to you so accept this fully and positively. With a bit of imagination there’s plenty to say about your contribution without giving everything away.

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