Is it possible to guarantee a good hire?


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This week, an interview from the New York Times has caught our eye. In it, SVP of People Operations Laszlo Bock of Google admits that no one is good at hiring. Well, not that no one is any good, but that there doesn’t seem to be any way to predict whether or not a particular hiring manager will make a good hire at any given time.

[gn_note color=”#ebebf4″]“Years ago, we did a study to determine whether anyone at Google is particularly good at hiring. We looked at tens of thousands of interviews, and everyone who had done the interviews and what they scored the candidate, and how that person ultimately performed in their job. We found zero relationship.”[/gn_note]

In addition, things that have been taken for granted as interview basics for years (especially in the tech startup world) like brainteasers and required high GPAs are — at Google at least — now seen as fairly meaningless.

Which makes sense. After all, the person you are in college rarely bears a passing resemblance to the person you are 2, 5, and especially 10 years later. So why should it be a determining factor in whether or not you get an interview? Similarly, brainteasers tend to be a good way to tell if a candidate has heard the riddle before — not whether or not they are capable of critical thinking.

So how is Google combating the old measuring sticks that used to determine whether or not you get to join their much sought-after ranks? Why, data, of course!

They track interviewers and candidates over time and see who sticks around, who shines, and who is out the door six months later. They’re also using data to track team success as well as leadership success; by gathering data they’re able to tell leaders exactly how successful they are, with incontrovertible evidence. Pretty cool.

But the data wizards and team builders over at Google are not giving up on strong interviewing yet. I love the final insight in this quote, so I will end with it; these are some pretty interesting thoughts on the importance of good behavioral interviewing — and what amazing revelations it can provide.

[gn_note color=”#ebebf4″]“Behavioral interviewing also works — where you’re not giving someone a hypothetical, but you’re starting with a question like, ‘Give me an example of a time when you solved an analytically difficult problem.’ The interesting thing about the behavioral interview is that when you ask somebody to speak to their own experience, and you drill into that, you get two kinds of information. One is you get to see how they actually interacted in a real-world situation, and the valuable ‘meta’ information you get about the candidate is a sense of what they consider to be difficult.”[/gn_note]

To read the full interview on the New York Times Corner Office site, click here.

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