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In general, how much detail is it acceptable to divulge when talking about your accomplishments at your previous places of employment during an interview with a prospective employer?

In engineering interviews, it's common to be asked about technical details of the projects you have worked on (at least where I live). I understand that this is to assess my technical ability. In general, what is a good guideline on how much detail you can get into without violating your obligation of confidentiality to your previous employer(s)?

My problem is, you talk very little and this can be mistaken for ineptitude. You talk too much and you risk violating your ethical obligation to your current employer.

(Of course, a more acceptable solution is for you to pick another project where you have no obligation for confidentiality. But, granted any such project you worked on is below your current level of skills, what should you do?)

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    In general, there is no obligation of confidentiality. – emory Nov 5 '17 at 12:24
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Stay high level, for a series of reasons:

  • you don't want to break the confidentiality on your work and betray the trust your employer has in you
  • you don't want to give the impression you would use company sensitive information to your personal advantage
  • going too deep in detail can backfire, as usually the interviewer is not expert in your field
  • if you are able to explain your job to a non expert, you are already showing a valuable skill

Made up example: "In my present project I am working of the validation of an algorithm for biomedical usage. Without going into confidential details, it analyzes data gathered via an echo scan and assesses the health of the patient's liver. What I do is testing the algorithm by feeding it data and checking the outcome versus the analysis executed with the present golden standard. By doing this and providing feedback to the developers team, I have been able to increase the analysis rate from 8 patients/day to 40 patients/day".

You don't explain how the algorithm work, but you explain your work.

  • That makes sense. Thanks. Will mark it as accepted if no newer responses for few days. – Nibras Reeza Nov 12 '17 at 12:03

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