Owen Wilson and Vince Vaughn may make you think that landing a job at Google is a matter of Rubiks Cube gymnastics, self-driving cars, and cringe-worthy jokes. But as was reported in the New York Times, the search giant has given up thought riddles for proof of professional potential.
First, we need to establish that no one–not even at the mighty Googleplex–is any good at hiring. As senior vice president of people operations Laszlo Bock explains, Google combed through tens of thousands of interviews. They noted the interviewers, the interviewees, and how the former scored the latter. Then they tracked on-the-job performance. What kind of correlation did they find between the candidates’ interview score and their actual performance?
“Zero relationship,” Bock says.
And those beloved brainteasers? “A complete waste of time,” he adds. Knowing how many golf balls fit into an airplane or how many gas stations are in Manhattan “doesn’t predict anything,” he says, they just make the “interviewer feel smart.”
And your academic prowess you so dutifully cultivated? Not much of a signal, Bock says: Both GPAs and test scores are “worthless,” offering no correlation to success– except in brand-new college grads. The academics don’t predict anything, he says.
So what does predict success? And what are Google’s vaunted people operations
people looking for?
Just like Amazon, they’re looking for what you’ve done and how you can express yourself.
As Bock explains, this comes in the form of behavioral interviewing:
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.
Just the same as how you can actually ask for a raise and get it, landing the job is about proving you’ve done things that are useful to people–and being able to explain how you got the work done. As the ever-direct Tucker Max would say, “Everything else is puffery, status signaling, or bullshit.”
[Image: Flickr user Marco Lima]