Larry Page and Sergey Brin were both high-achieving students, as both earned master’s degrees from Stanford before they co-founded Google.
Understandably, when they started hiring at Google, they focused in on hiring people like them, namely people from great schools with high GPAs. They required candidates to submit their GPAs and college transcripts as part of their applications, no matter how long they were out of school.
Today, that is no longer the case, as Google found candidates’ college GPA to have no correlation to actual performance on the job, except for employees who recently graduated college. The company adjusted, to the point that now 14 percent of Google employees don’t even have college degrees. Instead, Google now uses a set of structured interviews – with structured assessment models – that they found works for them.
“After two or three years, your ability to perform at Google is completely unrelated to how you performed when you were in school, because the skills you required in college are very different,” Laszlo Bock, the vice president of people operations at Google, recently told the New York Times. “You’re also fundamentally a different person. You learn and grow, you think about things differently.”
The lesson in this is bi-fold. First, Google is doing something few other companies are doing: creating an objective measure of their hiring process by tracking the hire’s performance as an employee and then seeing what matters and what doesn’t.
The second lesson is even more impressive. By bypassing GPA, Page and Brin (who were already billionaires when this change was instituted) were humble enough to supersede their own biases and listen to the data, rather than championing their own viewpoints for the sake of their egos.
So How Does Google Hire?
So what goes hiring at Google look like today?
Well, first off, Google is certainly not hurting for candidates. Inc reports that Google gets thousands of resumes each day, partly because they pay top salaries to go with incredible benefits including free food and a beer truck, something few other companies can afford to do.
But still, what can apply is their actual hiring process. In his interview with The Times, Bock said that the company originally had unstructured interviews and unstructured assessments, and that produced very inconsistent results.
“Years ago, we did a study to determine whether anyone at Google is particularly good at hiring,” Bock told the newspaper. “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.”
Instead, Google went to an interview-centric model, where both the interviews themselves and the assessments were very structured. And what are they looking for in these interviews?
Well, intelligence and having a personality that’s going to fit in with the Google culture is important, according to Inc. But the most important aspect they found, believe it or not, was predictability – particularly in leadership positions, according to the website.
“If your manager is all over the place, you’re never going to know what you can do, and you’re going to experience it as very restrictive,” Bock told Inc. “But [i]f a leader is consistent, people on their teams experience tremendous freedom.”
Additionally, with this interview-based model, a candidate’s experience is becoming less and less important. For example, Google recently hired a person for an HR technology position because he had success organizing a team that helped cleaned up the BP oil spill, according to entrepreneur.com.
“We look for people who are great at lots of things, love big challenges and welcome big changes,” Google wrote on its own career page. “We can’t have too many specialists in just one particular area. We’re looking for people who are good for Google—and not just for right now, but for the long term.”
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