Wednesday, January 03, 2007

More on Google hiring

Another day, another article about Google hiring practices.

I've posted about this before--about how Google recently changed its processes to focus on fewer interviews, triangulate on candidate KSAs, and expand the scope of predictors beyond GPA and college diplomas.

I wish I was as excited about this new article, but truth be told I have some concerns about the messages they're sending.

- Laszlo Bock, their VP of "People Operations" had this to say about interviews:

"Interviews are a terrible predictor of performance."

Hmmmm....I seem to recall reading some evidence that refutes this (granted, it's looking like we need to take another look at the validity coefficients). If by "terrible" Bock is implying that biodata is far superior to structured interviews, I'd like to see what data he's looking at. Perhaps he meant the data Google collected showed poor correlations between their interview scores and subsequent job performance?

- This led to this rather unfortunate quote from the article author:

"...academic research suggests that...grades and interviews...are not an especially reliable way of hiring good people."

Again, research suggests otherwise. Yes, support for using grades to predict performance is limited at best. And yes, unstructured interviews are not only unreliable but unwise from a legal perspective. But structured interviews with well-designed questions and rating scales can be very effective.

That said, I still believe Google is setting the proper example for modern assessment in several ways:

- By focusing on what the data shows. Google collected a substantial amount of data that allowed it to look carefully at which background characteristics predicted job performance--both task-based and citizenship behaviors.

- By tailoring assessment to the needs of the position. Separate "surveys" were developed for different job groups (e.g., engineering, sales, finance, HR).

- By not rushing to embrace point-based T&Es in automated systems but instead taking the time to go with something far better (biodata).


Anonymous said...

Google recently screened a friend of mine, to work in their sales and operations group, in a business manager role. Even though this candidate had 15 years of work experience, most recently in a very successful role for a Fortune 100, they asked him for SAT scores, and college transcripts. Something is wrong in that screening process. I can understand maybe a GMAT score, but SAT scores???!! What about focusing on the business results and leadership skills of the individual? I think Google is a great company with an immature, amateur hiring process. Too bad.

BryanB said...

That does seem odd. I can see using SAT and GMAT for someone right out of college (although you're gonna have adverse impact), but for someone that has a lot of job experience?

It will be interesting to see what happens with Google's hiring practices. They're putting a lot of effort into gathering data to make sure their hiring practices are job related and predict performance.

Let's keep an eye on Jason Warner's blog (newly hired as Google's head of recruitment):