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All Companies Should Hire Like Google

by Mar 18, 2014, 6:25 am ET
Google - Santa Monica

Google – Santa Monica

I don’t work at Google. I never have. I know multiple managers and former directors in HR & recruiting who’ve been there and shared their experiences. I, like many, have read countless articles on why Google is so great place to work. In terms of products, I’m a fan but not devoted to any cult of Google. Some of its past hiring practices were arrogant, inefficient, and any experienced talent acquisition leader could tell you were a waste of time.

There are articles in the LA Times and elsewhere whose main premises are that Google is ignoring how smart applicants really are by not using intelligence testing any longer. “GPAs are worthless as a criteria for hiring, and test scores are worthless … We found that they don’t predict anything,” noted Lazlo Bock, head of talent at Google. They feel it’d be mistake to follow Google’s lead. I disagree.

I think they’re missing the big point. Companies should hire like Google but adapt to their needs.

Google makes hiring and keeping the best talent one of its core operating principles, and the commitment from the executive team demonstrates that like very few companies today. When Google says talent is important, it means it.

So yes, all companies should hire like Google — though not as a cut and paste of their model but instead adapted to one’s own company needs.

Intelligence testing is a small component, one data point in defining success on the job. This is something countless recruiters and HR leaders have known for decades, but now big data is finally validating what’s obvious to us. Over my career, I’ve been involved in the hiring of at least over 200,000 professionals. I’ve seen a lot of testing — some very good and some not so much. I’m a fan of Matrigma by Hogan for spatial intelligence; and, tools like Gild that look to define a developer’s abilities with input via crowdsourcing. The world of testing has to change and adapt. Measuring pre and post hire are two very different needs that aren’t addressed. (Here’s a video on quality of hire — published in ERE.)

Notwithstanding that GPAs are not a measure of intelligence, the key argument against Google is that 1) it is in a select category and 2) there is that general cognitive ability which is highly predictive of educational and occupational success in the broad population.

Google is in the top echelon within the tech industry. Its learnings don’t need to be replicated if not appropriate, but shouldn’t be ignored. Its hiring philosophy is one reason it is so successful.

It’s true that cognitive ability is a predictor for broad population but it doesn’t account for team chemistry, social and emotional intelligence, organizational complexity … being scored as cognitively intelligent isn’t enough to be successful. It alone doesn’t predict success on the job.

Big data and advancements in computational neuroscience will change the way we define and assess quality and improve the hiring model over time. Companies like Google have the luxury of analyzing metrics of hiring and performance most companies don’t have access to, but that doesn’t mean the strategy and principles they’re using are wrong and shouldn’t be emulated.

We can keep putting intelligent professionals into roles that don’t excite them, with organizations that don’t value transparency, without building and engaging trust in employees, or having fairer compensation design that allows more of the employee base to be rewarded based on contribution/performance. Doing this will result in the same discussion next year. The definition of madness continues.

One irony is that Google treats its employees like intelligent adults, and in return, the employees act as such. It’s not about compliance or depersonalizing work relations. It’s about trust, transparency, and paying people adequately so they’re motivated. Generous stock grants certainly help.

Examples: Beautiful campus; international food at cafeteria; bus/shuttle service support for staff with long commutes; child care for working parents; allowing engineers 10 percent of their time to create/experiment on anything they’d like, and the list goes on. With such an amazing brand being built, hiring costs will easily go down.

What does Google do all companies should do:

  • It focuses on defining quality of hire, not just cost of hire. Many companies focus on the latter to their detriment.
  • Hire and retain the best talent is not a meaningless slogan — part of the hiring managers’ performance review
  • Customize what works based on the metrics

What does Google do companies should not do:

  • Have candidates interview 10-20+ interviewers
  • Spend lots of money on a hiring process without getting feedback from practioners who’ve been doing it for awhile. Assuming old dogs can’t learn a new trick isn’t wise.

It has scrapped some of these practices, so that’s good. Even Google is learning some new tricks.

This article is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended to offer specific legal advice. You should consult your legal counsel regarding any threatened or pending litigation.

  • Richard Araujo

    Perhaps the best lesson to take from Google is to examine your own process and scrap what doesn’t work or is not predictive of success. That alone, a change in approach that at least tries to change and improve rather than applying the same approach over and over again regardless of results, would be a great leap forward for most employers.

  • http://PeopleAssessments.com Dr. Tom Janz

    Lots to like in this article, including the recommendations around what all companies should do. The Tom Friedman NY Times piece quoted Bock as saying Google had limited the number of interviews to 5 max, since more than that had been shown to be of no value. That is the kind of evidence-based decision making that results in an improved Return on Talent. The last item on the “do not copy” list appears to suggest listening to people like the author more often. But all too often, the old dogs are the ones who don’t base their decisions on evidence, or we wouldn’t have the dismally poor performance record of low decision accuracy driven by over-reliance on resumes, poison-ality profiles, and unstructured interviews. I discovered a long time ago from a wise VP HR at Chilis that old dogs learn new tricks mostly when doing so becomes a condition of employment.

  • Keith Halperin

    @ Shanil:”All Companies Should Hire Like Google”
    Isn’t it two weeks before April Fool’s Day? :)

    Cheers,
    Keith

  • Rob Lake

    Google does many things well, like creating a culture where hiring is a priority for everyone. Since the article starts with “I have never worked for Google” I am not sure the hiring practices mentioned are accurate. For example how does Google focus on quality of hire? Lazlo Bock has stated that many of the processes and practices imposed have not been proven effective. In truth the quality of hire “metric” within Google is anecdotal.
    I have worked with the Google recruitment teams, and in my opinion the financial success of the core product creates many opportunities – opportunities which allow the employee to fail while swinging for the fence – and for those (hiring) failures to fade into obscurity.
    Too often a company is held up as “iconic” by those outside the doors. In 2012 Google reported over 1000 heads in staffing, and a gross hiring number of approximately 6000. How many companies can afford a 1:6 hiring ratio for their recruiting teams? I agree that quality of hire should be the primary metric, but business acumen alone mandates some concerns over such costs.
    That same year Google saw candidates waiting 2+ months for some sort of answer post interview due to the mechanics of “hiring teams”. And that same year a panel of MBAs that were just hired at Google listed the top 3 reasons they joined Google was the bus system which allowed them to live in SF, the free food and the university like campus atmosphere.
    Google is brilliant in many ways, breaking new ground every day. Google has quite possibly made more millionaires than any other company to date. And that alone creates the lens through which many of the processes and practices are viewed externally. We have seen similar visions of OZ like hiring practices – Sun, Intel, IBM, Motorola, Cisco, etc… iconic companies that held a Google like status during their reign. What they all did well was promote their brand, grow rapidly and promote their employees, and make several millionaires. And to their credit they all did it “their way”.
    I encourage my colleagues to find their best way, raise the bar, swing for the fences – benchmark iconic companies, but never buy into “doing it their way”. Don’t settle for “Googleyness”.

  • Scott Weaver

    Doesn’t Google have one of the highest turnover rates in the country? Additionally, Recruiters sign-up for their contract assignments to get Google on their resume and get paid a ton. Has anyone commenting on this board NOT received a message from them or one of their staffing agencies to join up for 6 months? Like many other tech giants, every time someone sneezes at Google, they have analytics shooting out. So it makes sense to use that data for recruiting purposes. I’ve seen alot of fantastic talent functions, but I can’t say that I’ve seen anything groundbreaking that Google does. A good recruiting function? Probably. An industry leader? Maybe. What all companies should model after? Probably not.

    Simply stated, Google is in a specific industry, with specific needs, and a specific size. Their talent function obviously works well for them. Any successful company, large or small, understands the importance of good people/employees. That’s not ground-breaking in the least. I’m much more impressed with Talent functions who aren’t attached to a company that basically collects data as part of their company. That requires the talent function to acquire that knowledge, develop the data, create metrics based off the data, and build strategies around those metrics. But maybe that’s just me…

  • Richard Araujo

    Good points Scott. Maybe the overall fascination with Google boils down to: “Hey, here’s a US based company that doesn’t work their employees to death, and gives a few benefits that aren’t mandated by law or considered ‘standard’ for almost every other company their size…” It’s a sad statement on the US labor market, but maybe it’s simply treating one’s employees decently, paying them a decent wage, and offering anything above and beyond a basic benefits package, that gets your recruiting and labor practices the labels of ‘ground breaking’ and ‘innovative.’ It honestly would not surprise me if that were the case.

    Now what remains to be seen is if their market position changes so that they’re not the top dog pulling in massive amounts of capital to fund such endeavors, do they still stick to the same approaches, or, do they magically start seeing some of these benefits which apparently enhance productivity as costs, and start trimming them? My guess is the latter, and once they’re not the top of the heap the bus service, free food, and unconstrained sick time, etc., all fall off the map fairly quickly.

  • Shanil Kaderali

    @Dr Janz: thank you for your insightful comments

    @Rob Lake: I spoke to current TA & HR Leaders recently/in last few months and note the generally public info on Google. The practices are accurate. If some practices have changed over time, that’s fine as it doesn’t change the point on testing nor on importance walking walk if companies say hiring is important to them.

    @Scott. No. They don’t have the highest turnover in the industry.

    I appreciate an article from Dr John Sullivan published yesterday on elite firms – he astutely pointed out that companies won’t adapt to some of Google’s best practices. Executives at these firms despite all their talk, still relish the control and the power that they hold over those beneath them. They are comfortable with a command/control model and not leadership influencing model. (hence pay, benefits, etc remain ok except for the execs versus amazing at strong brands who are fine with some employees becoming millionaires)

    As I noted, I’m not saying copy and paste what Google does, just take note of how successful it is and how great their talent are and they keep improving their hiring model.

    if executives don’t want to hear that truth, that’s their failure of imagination and leadership.

  • Keith Halperin

    @ Folks: I thought about holding back a bit, but it seems the door has cracked open-

    If someone wishes to get an accurate perspective on Google as a recruiting model, instead of speaking with the high-level people over there, it would be far better to speak to the thousands of recruiters and sourcers who’ve worked for them and the tens of (if not hundreds of) thousands of exceptionally fine people who’ve been either lost in the system outright, been needlessly delayed until they lost interest, or got rejected either through the outright incompetence of the interviewers or the processes themselves (which the company admitted were erroneous only 15 years after everyone else in recruiting knew). The company can perhaps serve as the leading example of a firm that has succeeded DESPITE as opposed to BECAUSE of its hiring practices, which throw an incredibly large amount of money and number of people to support the prejudices and biases of the people in charge and the paid and unpaid shills who push the myth of the company’s wonderful hiring practices. Thank goodness we don’t have any such shills here on ERE!

    Cheers,
    Keith

    P.S. I’m sorry if people feel this may be overly negative and unpleasant. I’m speaking the truth as I’ve (and many of my friends and colleagues) seen it and not as it’s often portrayed. The reality was so far from the hype that I still have a bitter taste in my mouth from it, in case you haven’t guessed.

  • Scott Weaver

    @ Shanil: They’re tied for 2nd worst turnover… I googled it. http://www.nbcbayarea.com/blogs/press-here/Despite-Employee-Perks-Google-Has-High-Turnover-217417931.html

    @ Keith: You’re never one to hold back so I wouldn’t be too concerned if its seen as negative.

    @ All: I don’t know if Google has an amazing recruiting model. I know they have more Recruiters than seemingly necessary which is seemingly not efficient. I know they use a contract model and over-pay for their contract Recruiters – again, not efficient. I know they have terrible turnover rates so they may not be hiring for ‘fit’ appropriately. So, to echo Keith’s comments a bit… they seem to be throwing loads of resources and money at the issue. And that has served them well. But I fail to see any argument that supports the theory that “Everyone Should Hire Like Google”.

    Don’t get me wrong. I enjoy reading various articles on how they use their data/analytics to support change/strategy. I would never say they’re ‘bad’ because I don’t know. But color me unimpressed if everyone should follow their model of hiring ‘really great people’. Of course they should.

  • Shanil Kaderali

    @Scott: I read the article. When you to to the payscale site and it shows being tied at #4 but it’s talking turnover at <1 year. In the valley, turnover is crazy for high tech talent. Much of the same talent will come back later to Google (or go to the start-up) – so it's a different dynamic about turnover than any other region I've seen. That metric by itself wouldn't discount the success they've had overall but I agree, it's not good at #4 or #3 – it's high.

    Still Big Picture – obsessive focus on best products and having the best talent seems to be a pretty winning strategy.

    They keep learning.

    They're learning new tricks and shedding some of the dumb stuff they did prior. Good for them.

  • Scott Weaver

    @ Shanil

    Right. I’m not going hold that single metric against them. From my understanding Googles average tenure for an employee is <1yr. It also includes contractors so I can see where the metric is potentially flawed.

    And maybe the highly paid contract terms is their method of seeing who the best are and kicking the rest to the side. Honestly, if that works, then I'm OK with that. They do keep learning based on their metrics… so that's good, but I wouldn't think its unique to any other successful organization.

    At its core – the recruiting model/mechanism – I just don't see it… doesn't mean its not there, but I don't see it.

    The 3 things you mention in the article: (1) focus on quality, not cost of hire. I think any good company is doing this. (2)Hire and retain best talent. That's not proven. Great and innovative ideas or assembling a great team can be, at times, attributed to a single person (Steve Jobs, for instance). And while they may not be the worst, they're certainly nowhere near the best in retaining. (3) Customize what works based on metrics – I would love to see their data sets and derive strategy from it. But c'mon – the most innovative thing we've seen in the last year from them is that data shows that GPA's don't mirror business success.

    In terms of copying a recruiting/hiring model, I'd look to Autodesk, Amazon, LinkedIn (who I have a love/hate relationship with), and 100's of other companies that have unique strategies built within their framework. Not sure I need to repeat it, but Google may have an amazing mechanism, and what they're doing clearly works… but they're either keeping it a secret, or I haven't read about it.

  • Shanil Kaderali

    @Scott. Fair points. i don’t know if I’d frame it as ‘seeing it or not’ as no 1 strategy is right for all companies. Customizing your own model is important and to your point, they (google) are good at learning from their metrics and doing what works for them.

    Also, 1) many companies focus on cost to detriment of quality. I think at exec levels there’s some truth but not broadly applied 2) great talent can’t be disputed even with a high turn for 1st year folks. 3) agree

    There are tons of other companies that won’t get the press Google does be it Autodesk, Red Bull which is brilliant in its hiring and others.

  • Keith Halperin

    @ Shanil:”…they are good at learning from their metrics and doing what works for them.”
    If a firm takes 15 years to correct something which is obvious to the rest of the world and continues to do some very obvious mistakes, what kind of “learning” is that?

    Let’s consider an anecdotal story:
    Supposedly there was a recruiter at this company who sent out a message to a potential candidate that had a number of typos. Unfortunately, the potential candidate was politically well-connected with sr. management and complained. Instead of being taken aside and cautioned to do better- the hapless recruiter was immediately dismissed…Let’s contrast that with those who ran a hiring operation which clearly (to everyone but them and/or their superiors) was inefficient and dysfunctional- losing and alienating tens or hundreds of thousands of fine candidates. After a “brief” 15 year period where “mistakes were made”, has anything happened to those who dictated and oversaw such practices? Has anything been done as far apologizing and reconsidering those tens or hundreds of thousands of people upset due to the GAFIS (Greed, Arrogance, Fear, Ignorance/Incompetence, and Stupidity) of those at the top? How different is that from the situation of the big financial institutions who took America’s economy down, and yet walked off with big bonuses for the responsible execs, who at most perhaps have said “sorry”?….

    “…What won’t get the press Google does be it Autodesk, Red Bull which is brilliant in its hiring….”
    This may or may not be the case- I *can’t say. However, have you taken aside a group of their recruiters offsite over drinks and asked for the REAL story? Listening to the people running the show and/or the marketing hype that’s generated by those people is likely to get you a very slanted, unrealistic view of things.

    BOTTOM LINE:
    Almost any very junior employee with a company just a few weeks knows more how to improve their own job than an SVP or a high-level recruiting consultant who just talks to high-level people. When management is trying to improve recruiting, INSTEAD OF LISTENING TO AND BELIEVING OTHER COMPANIES’ HYPE, WHY DON’T THEY JUST ASK US HOW TO DO IT?

    -KH

  • Shanil Kaderali

    @Keith: 15 years or not, learning is still learning and they’re a hugely successful company (who had dumb process parts they refined over time)

    I spoke to about multiple recruiters all of which I worked with prior at Cisco and various managers/directors there too who granted, gave some hype but they’re fair in their assessments of their own pros/cons

    I hear ya though on taking in too much corporate hype/lingo. We’ve all been guilty of that at some point.

  • Keith Halperin

    Thanks again, Shanil.
    ISTM that for a company which values intelligence and equating intelligence with “intellectual speed”: continuing to do the wrong thing in the face of evidence for 15 years is pretty stupid. Furthermore, if they were this wrong before, HOW DO WE KNOW THEY AREN’T STILL WRONG ABOUT A LOT OF THINGS? (That also applies to those who championed the company’s hiring practices as examples to follow during that time. If they were that wrong before, why should we think they’re right now, particularly when they haven’t admitted their mistakes?)

    Perhaps we can take this away (as a cautionary tale):
    If you’re arrogant and have control over billions of dollars to do things the way you think they should be done instead of the way those who actually do the job and objective facts indicate should be done: be like the company.
    Otherwise: rely on the facts and the people who actually do the job to guide you to better results…

    Cheers,
    Keith

  • http://www.verticalelevation.com Carol Schultz

    @Scott: I’m sure there are many people on this site, including me, who have never been contacted to work for Google. I suspect they put their focus on “internal” recruiters rather than agency types for many reasons, which include money.

  • Richard Araujo

    So it looks like in addition to treating people well, at least the ones that stay, they also take a Throw As Much At The Wall And See What Sticks approach to hiring?

    Ground breaking. Innovative.

  • Blaise Ingram

    Over the past several months there have been articles published regarding Google’s hiring practice (one in Washington Post and one in the NY Times) and now this one. All of these articles were interviews/conversations with executives at Google. Do you remember the old saying,”Do not believe everything you read.”? It applies to all of these articles; they are nothing more than just public relations propaganda. Ask any recruiter at Google and they can tell you they have not had anybody hired based solely on the criteria mentioned in those articles. Two words for you FACT CHECK.

    In less the 24 hours after the article regarding GPA’s was published you could hear about people being denied consideration for a job at Google because their GPA was too low or the school was not “top tier” based on Google’s criteria

    Here are some truths that might help you get a job at Google. The Google Recruiter you are working with is trying just as hard to get a job at Google as you are. The majority of the people in Google recruiting are contractors and the majority will not be there after 12 months. Google dangles full time employment in front of each of them only if they can get enough people hired. That number and that number alone is all that matters. It does not matter what other contributions are made or other numerous possible external factors that get in the way. All that matters is how many people can a recruiter get hired at Google. This feat has to be accomplished by finding the person with the right experience, that attended the right school, achieved the right GPA, and more.

    So in short, get cozy with the recruiter’s they are desperate to get people hired because they know that in the opinion of the Google leaders the recruiters are no more permanent than a paper towel and just as easy to replace. Since the only thing that allows a recruiter to become an employee they will do everything they can to get you a job.

    As a candidate even if you do great on the interviews you have to survive a couple more ridiculous steps. One is a committee of people reading the notes from your interviews. If the most influential person in that room likes what they read you are good, if they do not like what they read about you then that is the end. Next, even if you survive that there is an executive review, why a senior executive has time and a need to review every possible hire is a mystery. I always thought that was the job of the hiring manager. A strange concept called delegation would work very well here. At Google the hiring managers have the title but no substance. The hiring manager only has a minimal input into the hiring. If the senior executive does not like the report on the candidate then the candidate will not get hired. This happens regardless of how good a fit the people that reviewed the resume, and the people that conducted the interviews believe the person is for the job.

    But again, your best chance of getting hired at Google is listening to the recruiters. If you have the right background and experience they will do everything they can to get you a job, because that is their only path to getting a job.

  • Keith Halperin

    @ Richard:
    Let’s see- Assuming Rob’s figures for 2012 are correct (1000 staffing people for 6000 hires) are correct, he pointed out that’s the equivalent of 6 hires/year/staffer or 1 hire/8.67 weeks/staffer.

    I think of myself as a competent (yet not spectacular) contract recruiter- I have hired 1 person/week (of various skill/experience levels) over long periods of time on a number of occasions. Thus, a company which is held up as a recruiting ideal has A DEMONSTRATED RECRUITING EFFICIENCY LESS THAN 1/8 that of a competent (if unspectacular) recruiter. THIS is what we’re supposed to admire? YOU do the math…

    BTW, someone (besides) me should discuss what the company’s recruiters ACTUALLY DO*/DID. (IMHO, it ain’t pretty, and it sure ain’t recruitin’….)

    @ Blaise: Hear, hear!

    -Keith

    *Maybe that’s changed, too…

  • Shanil Kaderali

    @Blaise – We’ll agree to disagree – this is not a PR piece. I’m critical of them in parts.

    I spoke to recruiters of which,most hated the process. Despised it or had reasonable mixed feelings about it but this article wasn’t about them or how much they pay contractors or contractors trying to get a job there or if recruiters like them or efficiency of hiring model regarding having so many recruiters.

    Google learns from its data with example of scrapping GPA/testing as that didn’t work for them. That by itself is worth following. My 2 cents have ended.

  • Gareth Cooper

    This discussion rapidly morphed into a hunger games kind’ a sequel. Fact or fiction? Difficult to participate in the debate because I don’t study Google besides the references in the media.

    Internal competition is an interesting thing. Knowing the little I do about Google’s buying power, I can see how they can use this to their advantage in their selection process.

  • Blaise Ingram

    @shanil Interesting how my last comment was deleted. As I said you are missing the obvious. The people that are doing the job are telling you that what google says and what they tell their recruiters to do are two different things. In short, gpa is still enforced as a hirin factor as is top tier school mentality. PR vs reality

  • Todd Raphael

    I try to delete comments that are in personal in nature (personal attacks) and not related to the article.

  • Keith Halperin

    Folks, if someone praises the company’s hiring practices, we could ask them:
    “Do you mean the company that is less than 1/8 as efficient at hiring people as other companies (http://www.ere.net/2014/03/18/all-companies-should-hire-like-google/#comments)? or
    Do you mean the company that took 15 years to admit what everybody else already knew: that its hiring criteria were “worthless” (https://www.linkedin.com/today/post/article/20130620142512-35894743-on-gpas-and-brain-teasers-new-insights-from-google-on-recruiting-and-hiring)? or
    Do you mean the company that settled an age discrimination lawsuit out of court after losing in the California Supreme Court? (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brian_Reid_(computer_scientist))?”

    Keith

  • Don Taylor

    @Blaise obviously everyone should be skeptical of the NYT and Washington Post given the disgraceful state that “journalism” finds itself in today but in all fairness it seems your axe to grind is with Google rather than with the author.

    I personally think the author makes some great points and is relatively objective as if I read it correctly he’s not building an argument by assuming that the NYT and Washington Post articles are accurate but instead specifically states that they miss the point.

    He suggests instead that the more important points are that Google may have learned over the years to use both pre-hire and post-hire metrics, tie those metrics back to hiring manager compensation schemes, measure and focus on quality of hire rather than cost of hire, and evolve the process based on the output of the feedback loop.

    The author admits that historically and perhaps currently Google is doing a lot wrong including not listening to people who know how to do it correctly. I think the article is pretty insightful and objective and in contrast you seem to be taking out your grudge against Google on the author as if you had read the title but not the article as he’s not making them out to be a saint if you ask me. So one could perhaps surmise that potentially it was your failure to read the post well rather than his failure to fact check that caused you to get bummed out. As again the author is not building a case by relying on the fact that Google doesn’t rely on GPA and test scores as a foundation for providing the information that follows if I am reading the post correctly.

    Anyway thanks for the info about how to get in the door at Google as that’s very useful as that’s something my wife has been working on.

  • Blaise Ingram

    @Don For clarification purposes I read the article, more than once prior to commenting. You are welcome for the information on how to get in the door at Google. For the record, in many ways Google is a fantastic company and deserves the fanfare it receives. I do not have a grudge against Google nor the author. I do have a passion for the truth. The point is that the author does believe in the PR articles about Google’s so called new hiring approach. If he did not believe them he would not have written the article nor defended it. He refers repeatedly to hiring practices (and learnings) that in reality are not being practiced (or learned). He refuses to accept the fact that the strength at Google is engineering not hiring practices. Even after he is told by more than one person and more than once that in fact that is not what is happening. The reference to how they hire recruiters is a real time true example of Google’s hiring practices. Practices which are not even close to the hiring approach that Google claims and not even close to something worth replicating. Thus all of his lauding of Google’s claim to learn and the general refusal to accept information from those doing the job is the frustration.

  • http://www.fasttrackrecruitment.com Mitch Sullivan

    When I saw this article, I too was going to let rip.

    Instead I’m going to leave it in Keith’s capable hands.

  • Richard Araujo

    Certainly a lot of venom surrounding this topic. Odd, contradictory, and just plain stupid hiring practices no longer surprise me, and that Google may be just another company in this regard is also not surprising. I agree with Keith more and more, there’s too much inertia behind old practices, and money to be made by keeping them around, to expect any significant change. Nor will the data that’s truly needed to make an impact on hiring processes be available any time soon to make a difference in our lives.

    I believe in defining work to be done. Every job can be broken down to a deliverable, a time frame, and a quality standard. That a candidate excels at delivering the right product at the right time and to the right standard is all that should matter. A hiring process that focuses on that would be killer, but it would also force some very, very uncomfortable questions on to managers and senior management which they don’t want to answer.

    Until they’re willing to answer those questions all of us, including those at Google, will continue to spin in place trying to catch our own asses.

  • Keith Halperin

    Thanks, Mitch and Richard.

    Maybe we could step back a bit and think about “advice and how-to” posts:

    When someone advocates a position, we should ask:
    What’s in it for them to say that? How do they benefit? (If they’re not benefitting in SOME way- why are they posting?) If they say Company A is good- do they have a relationship with Company A, or perhaps want to, or perhaps with people who do have relationships with Company A? If they say company A is bad- do they have “an ax to grind”?

    What do they base their opinion on? Will they tell you? Do they have a great deal of direct experience doing what they’re talking about, is it something they’ve researched, hearsay based on what other people have said, or maybe just what they’ve made up? If it’s something they haven’t directly experienced but researched, do they cite the sources for their opinion? Since this is largely a working-recruiter forum: Is their advice practical and useful to many, or impractical and useful to only a few?

    If they’re supposed to be an expert (have “a great deal of experience”) on what they’re talking about: What’s their track record of accuracy? Have they largely been right about what they’ve said before, largely wrong, or somewhere in between? When they’re wrong, will they freely admit it and explain why they were wrong then, and why they’re right (and we should believe them) now? Are they open to participating in discussions of their opinions and answering questions about them, or are they unwilling/unable to do so?

    I hope these are helpful, and that you’ll hold all posters and commenters (ESPECIALLY ME) to them, and if you disagree: what you think instead. I thank Shanil for posting, and look forward to seeing more of what he has to say.

    Happy Friday,

    Keith keithsrj@sbcglobal.net

  • Don Taylor

    Lots of valid comments obviously. Paying people well and treating them well probably works great more times than not in the sense of producing high ROI if the company can afford it and we almost have to give credit to Google for presumably figuring that out at some point and putting their money where their mouth was… disorganized or not,

    also Google was presumably able to come to a conclusion about the value of a measurement (GPA) and at least try to discount it’s factor weight at some point.

    If there’s enough data to guess that Google:

    (a) was at least wise enough to throw some money and emphasis at hiring as a challenge,

    (b) was able to measure some pertinent related variables and furthermore make adjustments based on those measurements, and

    (c) learned to value human capital and show respect for hard-working, smart, creative people…

    then indeed those three items alone are worthy of analysis if not praise when compared to the average company and hiring process, even though those things are obvious to all of us.

    Google is a massive, diverse, disconnected entity, so I’m not sure how much value we can assign to different experiences that contract recruiters may have had over the years. Those experiences might have been in the context of rush projects, and indeed Google might have weighed that into the analysis, as in:

    “we need 200 of this req filled asap, but it will be messy and frustrate the contract recruiters and make us look bad with them”… “ok”

    Also I’m sure that Google often didn’t care about cost-effectiveness either depending on the other potentially more immediate and crucial concerns, as they had money.

    As for to what extent the firsthand accounts matter, it depends, I don’t think they necessarily detract from the broader analysis presented.

    At the end of the day we can look back and say at least Google was willing to TRY to put money and thought into building an employment brand, which seems to have worked, so there must be something there that most companies could benefit by emulating assuming they can afford to invest even though yes of course with the benefit of hindsight and our specific expertise they look a bit silly in some respects.

  • Keith Halperin

    @ Don: If throwing massive amounts of money and other resources at a problem based on the arrogance of the people in charge and not based on existing knowledge and best practices (in the manner of President Vladimir Putin’s $50 Billion Sochi Winter Olympics) can be seen as something that companies should try and emulate, then that’s something they should try and emulate.

    “..with the benefit of hindsight and our specific expertise they look a bit silly in some respects.”
    It wasn’t with hindsight- most except the very new, ignorant, or shills knew from the “get-go” that what they did was contrary to recruiting best-practices. At the very least, (to my knowledge) there was then- and is now no objectively proven justification for much of what they did/do. If I am mistaken and there IS objective, neutral, and unbiased evidence that:
    1) Treating huge numbers of people as if they don’t matter,
    2) Not communicating/following up with them in a timely manner,
    3) Having them interview huge numbers of times by people who won’t directly be working with them,
    4) Looking very heavily for young, enthusiastic people from upper-middle class backgrounds or
    5) Having skilled recruiters spend much of their time reviewing and presenting hiring packets to the Hiring Committee like petitioners before ancient potentates in the Arabian Nights is the best way for a company to hire,
    Folks, please show us that evidence here on ERE.

    Thanks,
    Keith