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Here's Google's Secret to Hiring the Best People | WIRED


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Hint: having a crazy lot of money to offer.

Having a crazy lot of money to offer never hurts.

Most interviews are a waste of time because 99.4 percent of the time is spent trying to confirm whatever impression the interviewer formed in the first ten seconds. 

“Tell me about yourself.” “What is your greatest weakness?” “What is your greatest strength?” Worthless.

Equally worthless are the case interviews and brainteasers used by many firms. These include problems such as: “Your client is a paper manufacturer that is considering building a second plant. Should they?” or “Estimate how many gas stations there are in Manhattan.” 

Or, most annoyingly, “How many golf balls would fit inside a 747?”

Performance on these kinds of questions is at best a discrete skill that can be improved through practice, eliminating their utility for assessing candidates. At worst, they rely on some trivial bit of information or insight that is withheld from the candidate, and serve primarily to make the interviewer feel clever and self-satisfied. They have little if any ability to predict how candidates will perform in a job.

Excerpted from Work Rules: Insights from Google that Will Transform How You Live and Lead, by Laszlo Bock

The goal of our interview process is to predict how candidates will perform once they join the team. We achieve that goal by doing what the science says: combining behavioral and situational structured interviews with assessments of cognitive ability, conscientiousness, and leadership. To help interviewers, we’ve developed an internal tool called qDroid, where an interviewer picks the job they are screening for, checks the attributes they want to test, and is emailed an interview guide with questions designed to predict performance for that job. This makes it easy for interviewers to find and ask great interview questions. Interviewers can also share the document with others on the interview panel so everyone can collaborate to assess the candidate from all perspectives.

The neat trick here is that, while interviewers can certainly make up their own questions if they wish, by making it easier to rely on the prevalidated ones, we’re giving a little nudge toward better, more reliable interviewing.

Examples of interview questions include:

• Tell me about a time your behavior had a positive impact on your team. (Follow-ups: What was your primary goal and why? How did your teammates respond? Moving forward, what’s your plan?)

• Tell me about a time when you effectively managed your team to achieve a goal. What did your approach look like? (Follow-ups: What were your targets and how did you meet them as an individual and as a team? How did you adapt your leadership approach to different individuals? What was the key takeaway from this specific situation?)

• Tell me about a time you had difficulty working with someone (can be a coworker, classmate, client). What made this person difficult to work with for you? (Follow-ups: What steps did you take to resolve the problem? What was the outcome? What could you have done differently?)

So how do you create your own self-replicating staffing machine?

1. Set a high bar for quality. Before you start recruiting, decide what attributes you want and define as a group what great looks like. A good rule of thumb is to hire only people who are better than you. Do not compromise. Ever.

2. Find your own candidates. LinkedIn, Google+, alumni databases, and professional associations make it easy.

3. Assess candidates objectively. Include subordinates and peers in the interviews, make sure interviewers write good notes, and have an unbiased group of people make the actual hiring decision. Periodically return to those notes and compare them to how the new employee is doing, to refine your assessment capability.

4. Give candidates a reason to join. Make clear why the work you are doing matters, and let the candidate experience the astounding people they will get to work with.

This is easy to write, but I can tell you from experience that it’s very hard to do. 

Managers hate the idea that they can’t hire their own people. Interviewers can’t stand being told that they have to follow a certain format for the interview or for their feedback. People will disagree with data if it runs counter to their intuition and argue that the quality bar doesn’t need to be so high for every job.

Do not give in to the pressure.

Fight for quality.

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