Lessons from Google Hiring Practices: Drop the Gimmicks

In their latest movie, Owen Wilson and Vince Vaughn land an internship at Google after giving an out-of-the-box answer to a brainteaser. Odds are, they wouldn’t have been so lucky in real life. Here's what works for the company instead.

Owen Wilson and Vince Vaughn’s Google Hangout performance in the movie The Internship may have been enough to get a few laughs from the audience, but would the company have been impressed enough to offer them positions in real life?

How many golf balls can you fit into an airplane? How many gas stations in Manhattan? A complete waste of time.

According to Laszlo Bock, Google’s senior vice president of people operations, the answer is no.

“On the hiring side, we found that brainteasers are a complete waste of time,” Bock told The New York Times. “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.”

According to Bock, Google finds the right employees by using “structured behavioral interviews, where you have a consistent rubric for how you assess people.” People are led to talk about their own experiences, allowing the company to gauge how that person reacts to real-world situations and what the candidate considers to be difficult.

Behavioral interviewing is exactly what an HR professional advised was the best course of action for choosing the right employees following a recent study that found many hiring managers instead put a lot of emphasis on personality. The goal is to get someone who fits best in your organization, not someone you’d like to hear tell a story on how they would escape if they were shrunk and trapped in a blender—an interview question Wilson and Vaughn are asked in The Internship.

Birnbach Success Solutions CEO Sarah Sheila Birnbach,  a recruitment consultant  and advocate of  behavioral interviewing, says the method cuts through the noise when recruiting.

“A behavioral interview question first identifies what is it you are looking for the person to be able to do, and then you’re testing to see whether or not they can do that,” she told attendees at this spring’s ASAE Finance, HR & Business Operations Conference.

What are some of your most effective interview tactics? (And would you hire Owen Wilson and Vince Vaughn, anyway?) Let us know in the comments.

(YouTube screenshot)

Daniel Ford

By Daniel Ford

Daniel Ford is a contributor to Associations Now. MORE

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