Google Says You Shouldn’t Use Google Technique to Interview People

Fight disinformation: Sign up for the free Mother Jones Daily newsletter and follow the news that matters.


The New York Times has an intriguing interview today with Laszlo Block, Google’s head of HR senior vice president of people operations. He says that most job interviews are basically a waste of time: Google has gathered mountains of data and discovered that there’s “zero relationship” between how job candidates are scored by hiring managers and how well they eventually do on the job. Also: GPA and test scores are pretty much useless if you’ve been out of school more than a few years. That shouldn’t come as a surprise. I’ve never understood why anyone would care even slightly about that stuff once you’ve got some real-world job experience to evaluate.

But what about those famous Google brainteasers? Those are great, right? Not so much:

On the hiring side, we found that brainteasers are a complete waste of time. How many golf balls can you fit into an airplane? How many gas stations in Manhattan? A complete waste of time. They don’t predict anything. They serve primarily to make the interviewer feel smart.

Instead, what works well are structured behavioral interviews, where you have a consistent rubric for how you assess people, rather than having each interviewer just make stuff up.

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.

Actually, this advice has been conventional wisdom for quite a while among people who know what they’re talking about. But it’s hard! And no one likes to do it. Most people are convinced that they have a mystical ability to evaluate others just by chatting with them and “sizing them up.” Well, guess what? You probably don’t. And you especially don’t in the very formalized setting of a job interview.

Still, this belief is based on hundreds of centuries of evolved human nature. I don’t expect it to change anytime soon.

We've never been very good at being conservative.

And usually, that serves us well in doing the ambitious, hard-hitting journalism that you turn to Mother Jones for. But it also means we can't afford to come up short when it comes to scratching together the funds it takes to keep our team firing on all cylinders, and the truth is, we finished our budgeting cycle on June 30 about $100,000 short of our online goal.

This is no time to come up short. It's time to fight like hell, as our namesake would tell us to do, for a democracy where minority rule cannot impose an extreme agenda, where facts matter, and where accountability has a chance at the polls and in the press. If you value our reporting and you can right now, please help us dig out of the $100,000 hole we're starting our new budgeting cycle in with an always-needed and always-appreciated donation today.

payment methods

We've never been very good at being conservative.

And usually, that serves us well in doing the ambitious, hard-hitting journalism that you turn to Mother Jones for. But it also means we can't afford to come up short when it comes to scratching together the funds it takes to keep our team firing on all cylinders, and the truth is, we finished our budgeting cycle on June 30 about $100,000 short of our online goal.

This is no time to come up short. It's time to fight like hell, as our namesake would tell us to do, for a democracy where minority rule cannot impose an extreme agenda, where facts matter, and where accountability has a chance at the polls and in the press. If you value our reporting and you can right now, please help us dig out of the $100,000 hole we're starting our new budgeting cycle in with an always-needed and always-appreciated donation today.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate