Some time ago, I was asked in a job application to disclose whether I was at the time employed by a certain entity. Yes I was.

It was critical that it not be known publicly that I was working on a particular project there. I'm really not sure how true this would have been, but let's say that the recruiter could make a pretty obvious guess as to what project I was on, based on my experience.

I balked at that point of the application, but is that way overblown? Would it have been okay to give a dishonest "no" if they had asked a revealing clarifying question in an interview? Clearly, my bank can see where the money's coming from, and in the zero-probability situation that a teller asked about it, I'd obviously just have to deflect.

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    Are you saying if you would say "Yes" without revealing the nature of the project, just that "yes" would be sufficient for recruiter to guess what project you were working on?
    – PagMax
    Feb 3, 2019 at 5:59
  • Yeah, basically. Not enough for them to "know", but enough to guess, and after some digging, to be pretty sure. It sounds like an odd situation because it is one.
    – charlez
    Feb 3, 2019 at 6:03
  • "It was critical that it not be known publicly that I was working on a particular project there." - Why is that? Is it because you're legally bound not to disclose that information? I wonder if this is something you need to seek legal advice on; we can't give legal advice here. Feb 3, 2019 at 6:20
  • There were some legal boundaries obviously. Assume that acknowledging employment by that entity wasn't one of them. I understand that I can't seek advice on that point here, so thanks for helping me clarify. I should slightly reorient the question toward the second bolded part. That's perhaps more important, or at least something you can help me with.
    – charlez
    Feb 3, 2019 at 6:28
  • Have you signed an NDA? Feb 3, 2019 at 8:03

4 Answers 4


This sounds like one of those that you should discuss with the Security office of the "certain entity", and let them tell you how to handle that question.

You do not need to worry about the Security office telling your supervisor that you are interviewing outside the company. Security knows that people interview, and they know that it is nobody's business but yours. They also know that, if they get a reputation for blabbing, people will not come to them with real concerns, and that is emphatically not in anyone's best interests.

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    Caveat: HR is not your friend.
    – Roman
    Feb 3, 2019 at 12:00
  • This advice from the security office would also apply to questions from friends and neighbors who may also be able to make an educated guess. Feb 3, 2019 at 12:43
  • @Roman in this case it is for TLA's HR will make sure you have a cover story Feb 3, 2019 at 13:27
  • @Roman, I did not say "HR". I said "Security". They are not the same thing. Feb 3, 2019 at 16:17
  • And, now that I think about it a bit more, it occurs to me that the project itself probably has an in-house Security rep, who can probably answer your question just as well as the Security office can. Feb 3, 2019 at 16:24

You can say "I worked on a project for some company for 3 months. The project was very security critical, so I am under NDA not allowing my to say anything about the project, or even who employed me". It's the truth, and it's all you can say.


If it was a relatively short-term job (just that one project?), then it probably can't tie your hands completely or forever. For example, you probably don't need to pretend to be broke just because you can't disclose the exact nature of your employment.


It's not a crime to say who you worked for a certain company. Unless you've signed an NDA as part of your work then it's not a crime to say you're working on a project. If you have signed an NDA, then just say you worked for X and if asked what you were doing, say you can't discuss it.

Seek legal advice about it as well.

  • It might be if you are working for a sensitive organisation eg the CIA or a contractor to such an organisation Feb 3, 2019 at 13:28
  • @Neuromancer so what, are people expected to leave a gap in the CV stating [Redacted]? Feb 3, 2019 at 13:39
  • you use a cover story Feb 3, 2019 at 13:43
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    @user1666620: One of the things that goes with that world is that they tell you exactly what you can and cannot say. That includes cover stories, if necessary. It was a standing joke in Dallas in the 1980s that certain people could tell you "I work at such-and-such company as a <general job title> (example: programmer)" and that was ALL they were allowed to tell you. Feb 3, 2019 at 16:19

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