Personal opinions on Non-Disclosure Agreement (NDA) applied to students during the recruitment at Google Japan Inc..
Google Japan Inc. requires students applying for jobs to execute a comprehensive Non-Disclosure Agreement (NDA) before they make the first step into the office of Google Japan Inc..
In this memo, I would like to summarize my personal opinion with regard to this issue.
The followings are what I have heard concerning the NDA at Google Japan Inc..
- When students visit the company, they have to conclude comprehensive NDA.
- This NDA contains restrictions on the information that is irrelevant to the data handled by Google, such as the contents of the recruitment interview and employment conditions.
- With regard to the contents of the NDA, Google Japan. Inc. explains that the same conditions apply to all the Google offices around the world.
- A professor in charge of recruitment requested Google Japan Inc. to disclose to the university the nature of the confidentiality agreement that they executed with the students, but Google Japan Inc. refused to do so.
A guy described his own experience in Google Japan Inc.'s recruitment in his Blog, in which he did not disclose his real name, Google Japan Inc. contacted him and told him that he had violated the NDA, after which he deleted the articles.
I understand that some data handled by Google may contain personal information. In addition, strategically, it may be necessary that data and information analysis tools, about which students may learn something while interview, be kept confidential. However, why must students execute a comprehensive NDA that addresses the broader tasks and issues in the company, rather than one aimed at specific data and data processing technologies? This agreement seems to cover a scope that exceeds the "scope of required confidentiality", which is explained by Google Japan Inc. to its job applicants.
Google Japan Inc. makes job applicants execute an NDA that renders originally unnecessary information as confidential. I believe that this constitutes a coercive execution of an agreement with those who are in a vulnerable position.
Under such circumstances, I drafted an internal memo and distributed it to the students who requested a consultation during their job hunt.(See below)
--- To students who attempt to execute an NDA with Google Japan Inc. ----
(a) I would like students to consider the appropriateness of what they are doing.
As part of job-hunting activities, most students can collect information from former senior students. For instance, they may ask former senior students about the company that they are currently working for or why they decided to work for their company rather than other companies.
The students may also ask them about how their interviews progressed, how many interviews took place, what questions were asked during the interviews, and how they should respond during the examination. Would these activities help the students?
Is it possible to provide guidance to the junior students in the same way that the senior students did so?
Is it possible to inform the junior students about the present students’ own experience in the same manner that the senior students did so?
The NDA of Google Japan Inc. prohibits the sharing of information and the provision of assistance to others.
Is there some reasonable explanation for this?
During job-hunting activities, many students would consult with their supervisors. However, the students are prohibited from providing them with explanations of the recruitment process. The NDA prohibits students from explaining the progress of the recruitment activities to persons who gave advice about such activities.
Is there some reasonable explanation for this?
Are the measures taken by Google Japan Inc. recruitment an appropriate?
(b) I want the students to be assertive in stating their opinions.
Students conduct research at universities. I believe that even students in master’s programs have achieved world-class outcomes. At such times, students are told that that they are requested to execute an NDA by a company, with regard to its technologies.
It would please me if students were to assert at a recruitment interview that they would also like the company to execute a confidentiality agreement on the research that they intend to explain.
This would mean that they assertively stated their opinion with regard to the research in which they are engaged.
(c) The students should not believe everything that they hear.
With regard to the NDA, Google Japan Inc., states that the same conditions are applied in every Google office around the world. I am afraid that many students were of the opinion that the “logic unique to Japan” should not be applied, in accordance with global standards.
But, here, I cannot help feeling that "mentioning global standard" is just utilized to avoid deep examination of the issue because it gives the impression that global standards are of primary importance.
I may accept this logic if this takes place in relation to the hiring of applicants at the headquarters of Google in the U.S. .
But, is this approach really appropriate, in this case?
Google Japan Inc. utilized the old Japanese system for its recruitment. For example, at the start of job-hunting season, it contacts students via former students and holding “company-explanation-meetings” inside campus, whose target is only a specified department. While the process proceeds, it contacts to the supervisors of the students via phone to get information of the student, although, supervisors cannot get any information directly from students because of NDA.
In other words, Google Japan Inc. suggests that the students to abandon the old Japanese custom, because it does not meet global standards. At the same time, Google Japan Inc. fully utilizes the local Japanese local customs for its sake.
Isn’t this behavior double standard rather than global standard?
(d) Before signing some documents, I would like the students to examine the contents of the documents.
To sign an agreement means to make promises. Penalties may occur when promises are broken.
Therefore, it is important that students carefully examine the documents they are about to sign.
It is important that they do so as they should not have any regrets when signing the documents.