Beta
×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

Google Respins Its Hiring Process For World Class Employees

Soulskill posted about a year ago | from the how-many-turduckens-does-it-take-to-fill-a-submarine? dept.

Google 305

An anonymous reader writes "Maybe you've been intrigued about working at Google (video), but unfortunately you slept through some of those economics classes way back in college. And you wouldn't know how to begin figuring out how many fish there are in the Great Lakes. Relax; Google has decided that GPAs and test scores are pretty much useless for evaluating candidates, except (as a weak indicator) for fresh college graduates. And they've apparently retired brain teasers as an interview screening device (though that's up for debate). SVP Laszlo Beck admitted to the New York Times that an internal evaluation of the effectiveness of its interview process produced sobering results: '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. It's a complete random mess.' This sounds similar to criticism of Google's hiring process occasionally levied by outsiders. Beck says Google also isn't convinced of the efficacy of big data in judging the merits of employees either for individual contributor or leadership roles, although they haven't given up on it either." This has led TechCrunch to declare that the technical interview will soon be dead.

Sorry! There are no comments related to the filter you selected.

In conclusion (4, Insightful)

M0j0_j0j0 (1250800) | about a year ago | (#44079037)

It was and has been a PR move for all along, with people praising all that HR innovation and crap, in the end? It's all bullshit and no one has the slightest idea of what they are doing, would like to rub this one on the face of some writers who can only spit google this, google that, look it's so much innovation science!

Re:In conclusion (5, Insightful)

Hentes (2461350) | about a year ago | (#44079061)

Innovation sometimes leads to a dead end. Doesn't mean it's not worth trying.

Re:In conclusion (1)

perpenso (1613749) | about a year ago | (#44079137)

Innovation sometimes leads to a dead end. Doesn't mean it's not worth trying.

You can innovate. Or that new competitor can innovate as you leave an opportunity, a void to be filled. Its a classic business problem. "Old" successful companies tend to focus too much on their existing customer and products, providing only incremental improvements.

Re:In conclusion (1)

Macrat (638047) | about a year ago | (#44079255)

Success in HR is bean counting Not innovation.

Re:In conclusion (5, Insightful)

umghhh (965931) | about a year ago | (#44079287)

Correct. I am not a great fan of Google but I must admit they have guts to admit inefficiency of their solution and move on and possibly even learn from mistakes as some of us do.

Re:In conclusion (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44079127)

Participating in the selection process for prospective hires is one of my duties in the company where I work as a technical supervisor, and there has always been one single predictor of how well an employee will perform - speaking good, fluent English with a polysyllabic vocabulary.

The electronics industry attracts a lot of first and second-generation immigrants from Southeast Asia, Africa, and Latin America - and, as you'd guess, they tend to speak pretty shitty English. We recently did a mass-layoff after administering written and spoken English tests to all employees on the production floor and discovering that they made pretty piss-poor communicators. Of course, that's an institutional problem, because America offers no incentive to get the freeloading foreign scum to learn our nation's official language. America just kinda lets 'em sit around, collecting welfare and Ching-chonging or Ooga-Booga-ing in their tiny social circles, without effort to integrate into the society which nurtures them.

Well, doggone it, I've had enough with the insidious brown and yellow menace. Have you ever been to Google's headquarters? I have. And guess what? Everybody there was white? Okay, they did have a token light-skinned magic Latino, but he was mostly White anyway and hired just for being there when the cameras come in.

So, in short, to the hiring manager I recommend beginning the interview with this question: " English, motherfucker, do you speak it? " If they answer with even the slightest hint of accent, end the interview - immigrants are trouble.

Re:In conclusion (3, Insightful)

TechyImmigrant (175943) | about a year ago | (#44079263)

I'm an immigrant and I'm techy. It says so in my handle.

I get along fine with English. I do find most Americans have an accent of one sort or another so I suppose you mean we should stick to native English speakers like myself who are British.
 

Re:In conclusion (2, Funny)

Cryacin (657549) | about a year ago | (#44079327)

He's just a bit shirty that no-one can understand his thick southern accent behind his bedsheet.

Re:In conclusion (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44079371)

I'm an immigrant and I'm techy. It says so in my handle.

I get along fine with English. I do find most Americans have an accent of one sort or another so I suppose you mean we should stick to native English speakers like myself who are British.

When you consider the nearly incomprehensible accents of many British speakers such as Geordie, Manchester, and Cockney, then no, we shouldn't.

like Sergey Brin? (0)

decora (1710862) | about a year ago | (#44079351)

ya racist fool

Re:In conclusion (5, Insightful)

ranton (36917) | about a year ago | (#44079227)

So I guess the real conclusion is to hire as many candidates as you can as contract to hire or other temporary positions so you can rate their performance for a few months and easily drop them if they aren't cutting it.

Re:In conclusion (1)

Cryacin (657549) | about a year ago | (#44079335)

It's called a trial period.

Re:In conclusion (4, Insightful)

mysidia (191772) | about a year ago | (#44079499)

So I guess the real conclusion is to hire as many candidates as you can as contract to hire or other temporary positions so you can rate their performance for a few months and easily drop them if they aren't cutting it.

Uh oh... you've stumbled upon the other farce and total pool of snake oil.... besides the technical interview.

"Code Metrics"

Every project is unique, and developer performance is entirely subjective... any attempts to measure it, so far, have been inherently flawwed.

Of course they may also be using such flawwed data to decide that the technical interview has no value

i wonder if brin and page could pass these things? (1, Insightful)

decora (1710862) | about a year ago | (#44079319)

over and over you see in the tech industry these guys who work in fucking garages and could never make it through these bullshit processes, people like Woz, Jobs, Gates, Brin, Page, etc. none of those people would have been hired if they went through this shit.

it really begs the question. why even bother working for one of these bizarro bureaucratic shit holes? google is not a fucking good company, its a massive shit pile of bureaucratic horse pucky.

you know who said "NO" to the NSL letters from the FBI ? a little piss-ant ISP.

you know who said "YES SIR" ? Google. Thats your fucking innovation. Fucking google.

Fuck google. Fuck apple. Fuck microsoft.

Imagine all the time they waste on this HR bullshit that could be spent building stuff.

Start your own fucking company. These corporate douches can all eat shit.

Re:i wonder if brin and page could pass these thin (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44079561)

If you can't beat 'em, start a company that will become them...? Because that's just what we need more of, more evil companies...

If you're going on a fist-in-the-air rant, do it proper and scream for an entirely new economic system. Preferably one that doesn't allow corruption, prevents mindless entities (like governments and corporations and other organizations) from having any sort of power, and that is focused on the betterment of humanity.

Bonus points if you mention nano-tech and the glowing golden hope of a post-scarcity utopia where no one has to labor because robots and 3D printers do it all for us.

Re:In conclusion (5, Interesting)

jimicus (737525) | about a year ago | (#44079391)

Because (while no HR department or team manager will ever admit it in a public forum) we as a civilisation have precisely zero idea how to hire decent staff.

Oh, we'd love to pretend we do. We come up with all sorts of wonderful ideas like technical interviews (what the hell is a technical interview and how should it be structured anyway? I've never yet been given any training on that, yet I've had to devise them on a few occasions - I usually went for questions that demonstrate the candidate is trying to think through the problem in a methodical way rather than just guessing or reciting answers they've memorised), brainteasers, psychological evaluations - yet I'm quite sure we'd get just as good results on average just pulling names out of a hat.

Re:In conclusion (3, Interesting)

foniksonik (573572) | about a year ago | (#44079549)

In my experience its not the questions or the answers (unless complete wrong). I look at their demeanor. Are they noticeably flustered or do they take a breathe and start working it out. I'm looking to see if they can speak to subject matter they list on the resume. How do they speak about it... concisely or scattered. This tells me their real experience level and I can then decide if they are a good fit for my needs. Then I just ask them what they are passionate about, what makes them stay up at night thinking or experimenting. This gives me a feel for how they will grow in their skills. Is it aligned with the job or headed in a different direction.

This doesn't always work but I've been right more than wrong with an 80% success rate. I had one guy who got divorced weeks after I contracted him and just lost all ability to focus. Unfortunate circumstances but life happens and you've got to roll with it. Had to let him go. Wasn't pulling his weight.

I've brought on two so far who've been promoted to managers themselves and several others who are leads on other teams now.

Do you really want some who has brain teasers as (1)

Joe_Dragon (2206452) | about a year ago | (#44079047)

Like useing water tanks to get the weight of a airplane? or other over the top ideas?

Also some the questions are dumb or can just lead to a long line of followup questions to get more info.

Also some of the questions can have more then one way to answer or be open to ideas that can be very differnt from each other.

Re:Do you really want some who has brain teasers a (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44079193)

Supposedly brain teasers are used to figure out how you think about problems. Of course, when some candidates know the answers coming in -- or are familiar with that type of brain teaser, despite having no application to the job they do -- they tend to think about the problem better than people who don't.

Re:Do you really want some who has brain teasers a (1)

Joe_Dragon (2206452) | about a year ago | (#44079343)

as long as the problems are realist or at least in the field asking IT / software people about medical questions is bad. or even out of field tick questions.

Stuff like "If you could be any superhero" seems to boarder on non professional questions or turning into a pop culture quiz.

also if asked by some who needs a answer and you have a lot of follow up questions it can get lost in the paper work.

GPAs and test scores in schools should be changed (1)

Joe_Dragon (2206452) | about a year ago | (#44079059)

GPAs and test scores in schools should be changed.

Maybe have a split GPA one GPA for core classes one for gen EDUS's and one for the filler / non core classes or make them pass / fail.

also get rid of testes the people who are good at test cramming can master.

Re:GPAs and test scores in schools should be chang (4, Funny)

ColdWetDog (752185) | about a year ago | (#44079089)

also get rid of testes the people who are good at test cramming can master.

I truly hope you did not mean what you wrote.

Re:GPAs and test scores in schools should be chang (1)

NeutronCowboy (896098) | about a year ago | (#44079149)

I think before you start giving interviewing advice to corporations, you might want to:
* learn how to spell
* learn grammar rules
* learn capitalization rules
* learn how to organize your thoughts

You have two posts, and I'm unsure what either one is getting at, beyond "test scores are bad" and "interview questions are bad".

Re:GPAs and test scores in schools should be chang (1)

perpenso (1613749) | about a year ago | (#44079187)

GPAs are sometimes ignored by corporations. They often waive their official GPA requirements if you worked in the field while earning your degree. 25-30 hours a week as a programmer while going to college full time and most corps won't care whether your GPA was 2.5 or 3.5 when applying for a development job.

Re:GPAs and test scores in schools should be chang (4, Insightful)

cashman73 (855518) | about a year ago | (#44079297)

Most corporations don't care about GPA, especially once you've got a few years of experience under your belt. Although I did send a CV for a research programmer position at a scientific research company on the east coast. They're first contact with me was to send me a form asking for everything going back to my high school GPA, SAT scores, activities, and college transcripts (undergrad and graduate). This happened about 4-5 years AFTER I received my PHD, with several years of post-graduate research experience. Of course, the initial job ad said they were looking for, "outstanding scientists with world class credentials", so I should've interpreted the use of that language to mean that they were a tad pretentious.

Re:GPAs and test scores in schools should be chang (1)

cashman73 (855518) | about a year ago | (#44079311)

They're first contact with me . . .

"They're" should say "Their". I'm usually careful about this sort of thing. D'oh!

Re:GPAs and test scores in schools should be chang (3, Funny)

Cryacin (657549) | about a year ago | (#44079353)

Sheesh. Some

"outstanding scientists with world class credentials"

you are

Re:GPAs and test scores in schools should be chang (1)

cashman73 (855518) | about a year ago | (#44079397)

Yeah,. . . I just committed a Palin,. . . Oops! ;-)

Re:GPAs and test scores in schools should be chang (2)

ebno-10db (1459097) | about a year ago | (#44079369)

They often waive their official GPA requirements if you worked in the field while earning your degree. 25-30 hours a week as a programmer while going to college full time and most corps won't care whether your GPA was 2.5 or 3.5 when applying for a development job.

Not a bad approach. Several years into my BS I switched from full-time student to full-time employment and part-time student. My grades went down, but I actually learned more in my classes because I saw the applications. It also cured me of the suspicion that classes only taught ivory tower nonsense.

Good for them. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44079063)

I've never applied to Google because I'd heard enough about the interview process to realize it was mostly an unintentional way of asking if you're a recent graduate with a mind uncluttered by practical on-the-job knowledge, so you can focus on algorithms and brainteasers that have very few real world applications (and none in the job you're applying for.)

Re:Good for them. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44079103)

You never applied because you aren't qualified.

Re:Good for them. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44079135)

As someone who's interviewed many people over the years, I can attest that no unqualified candidates ever apply for a job. You got me.

Re:Good for them. (2)

ebno-10db (1459097) | about a year ago | (#44079337)

I've never applied to Google because I'd heard enough about the interview process to realize it was mostly an unintentional way of asking if you're a recent graduate with a mind uncluttered by practical on-the-job knowledge, so you can focus on algorithms and brainteasers that have very few real world applications (and none in the job you're applying for.)

Try Netflix. According to a recent Slashdot post, they prefer hiring people who've spent a few years at Google learning their trade.

I find what Netflix does very interesting - effects of scale can be serious. They also take reliability very seriously, as some people deprived of a promised premiere can be dangerous :) As is so typical for the "ooh, ahh" evaluation of tech, little heed is paid to Netflix because they're selling movies, never mind that the tech is the magic behind the service. Yet Facebook get loads of "oohs" and "ahhs". The best tech is usually the tech that gets noticed least. Nobody thinks much of running the faucet, yet you're dealing with a tech that's been a key factor in civilizations since, uh, since there have been civilizations (and probably before).

Universities (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44079065)

Google has decided that GPAs and test scores are pretty much useless for evaluating candidates...

Doesn't this lead one to believe in grade inflation at universities? If everyone scores from 3.7 to 3.98, how do you tease apart who really did well.

Re:Universities (1)

Mitchell314 (1576581) | about a year ago | (#44079157)

Mass spectrometry. It's what the petroleum industry uses!

Only 1 sensible answer to interview brainteasers (4, Insightful)

petes_PoV (912422) | about a year ago | (#44079067)

and that's: "I don't know, but I can do some research and find out".

Almost none of the questions I've seen have provided enough information to get past the "it depends" stage. That they make candidates make wild-assed-guesses and then try to justify them is possibly a good way to test for poor managerial qualities, but the answers never have the level of explanation that the real life answers have. The days when a back-of-the envelope calculation is enough are long gone (and probably never existed int he real world anyway). So it's good to see a major employer rejecting them. Shame it didn't happen 20 years ago/

Re:Only 1 sensible answer to interview brainteaser (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44079159)

For Google interviews the answer to "run of the mill" brain teasers should be "Hang on while I Google it" ;).

Google should be hiring people to answer questions Google can't answer.

More importantly Google should also be hiring people who ask the right questions. It often doesn't matter if they don't know the answers yet.

Re:Only 1 sensible answer to interview brainteaser (5, Funny)

ebno-10db (1459097) | about a year ago | (#44079299)

For Google interviews the answer to "run of the mill" brain teasers should be "Hang on while I Google it" ;).

And if they say no, ask them if it's better to use Bing instead.

Re:Only 1 sensible answer to interview brainteaser (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44079545)

For Google interviews the answer to "run of the mill" brain teasers should be "Hang on while I Google it" ;).

And if they say no, ask them if it's better to use Bing instead.

Don't Bing the interview.

Re:Only 1 sensible answer to interview brainteaser (2)

NeutronCowboy (896098) | about a year ago | (#44079163)

And my follow-up question would be: how would you go about finding out? Oh, here's my laptop. Knock yourself out.

Brainteasers for me were never about someone getting the answer right, it's how they work through a problem where they don't know the answer. Yours is a perfectly good answer, and leaves plenty of space to explore how you go about your research. To me, that's far more valuable than someone who has memorized the answer to a brain teaser.

Re:Only 1 sensible answer to interview brainteaser (3, Interesting)

Araes (1177047) | about a year ago | (#44079221)

The days when a back-of-the envelope calculation is enough are long gone (and probably never existed int he real world anyway).

Very much disagree on the lack of back-of-the-envelope calculations. von Braun and co. solved some of the hardest problems of Satern V development with paper napkins. I use quick calculations and engineering judgement all the time, and hire folks who are good at them too. In fact, we often spend far too much effort doing excessive studies when a few minutes of napkin math would give you the 80% answer. However, being able to figure out brain teasers and being able to quickly perform sound engineering judgements in a real work environment are two very different things.

"are you a nazi involved in slave labor" (1)

decora (1710862) | about a year ago | (#44079281)

apparently not one of the questions you want to ask?

Re:Only 1 sensible answer to interview brainteaser (1)

Cryacin (657549) | about a year ago | (#44079379)

In fact, we often spend far too much effort doing excessive studies when a few minutes of napkin math would give you the 80% answer.

PLEASE tell me you didn't work on challenger...

Re:Only 1 sensible answer to interview brainteaser (4, Interesting)

perpenso (1613749) | about a year ago | (#44079273)

Actually dismissing a question as stupid can work too. I was once asked a bunch of questions regarding the performance of a half dozen sorting algorithms, I recalled the details of only a couple. My answer: "Sorry, its been years since my data structures and algorithms exam. I bought the Knuth books so I can look up this stuff rather than have to memorize it."

I view interviews as two way. I'm evaluating the company. For example if the "senior engineer" giving me the above test doesn't know who Knuth is I probably don't want to work there. He did, but he pointed out my unconventional answer to the manager of the team. A person with a business background not a technical background. This manager asked what "Knuth" was and I explained. He then got a big smile, he loved my answer. A few days later I got a job offer. I worked there for four years, he was a suit, but he was a good one. He shielded us from as much BS as he could and he trusted and generally accepted our technical recommendation even when he personally had doubts.

Re:Only 1 sensible answer to interview brainteaser (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44079439)

One of the best, and most grueling interviews, I went on - and was offered the job - was a mix of "get to know you" conversations, paired with 3 fairly tough technical interviews (for a release/devops type of role, in NY)

First technical interview: the guy came in, wrote a line of mocked-up logging data on the board, in the format his company uses internally. Proceeded to ask me to 'code' on the whiteboard a function that would parse that line of data, and do a couple calculations based on it, in the language or pseudo-language of my choice. What I wrote was a bastardized mix of python and java, but he understood where I was going. He then started drilling deeper - asking what changes I'd make if I had to scale my log parser up to handle tens or hundreds of millions of lines like that a day - where would I think bottlenecks would come up, how I'd approach removing them, etc. Tough, relevant, and actually interesting questions.

Second technical interview: A discussion of how I'd approach coding an api for use by other developers on the team - how I'd approach it for a couple "uninteresting" functions, what considerations I'd make, and then we launched into a pretty rigorous review of compilers, phases of compilation, linking, etc. on Linux and the JVM. Again - relevant to the role, and the guy asked some hard, open-ended questions.

Third technical interview: A database guy came in and asked me to basically "design a database for something like twitter" on the board - again, pseudo-language, and then we talked about how I'd scale up the system to handle hundreds of millions of transactions a day, and where the bottlenecks would arise, and how those bottlenecks might change my original design approach.

I got an offer, but I ended up turning it down - we didn't see eye to eye on money, and given that they were asking me to relocate to an expensive urban area from my cushy suburban home, compensation was pretty important. But that interview sticks in my memory as absolutely one of the most interesting, relevant, and "hard" interviews I've ever been on - also one of the more "fun" interviews.

Contrast that with an interview with a certain fruit-flavored company headquartered in Cupertino, a few months later: one of the most bizarre interviews I've sat through - only met with 2 pairs of engineers the whole day, spending exactly 90 minutes with them. None of the interviewers asked me any "hard" or in-depth technical questions, instead focusing on little short "what's this do, what's that do?" questions, and then trying to impress me with how smart they were by asking me technical "brain teasers."

One of them: "Assume you just ran "chmod 444 /bin/chmod - how do you recover?!" My answer: "I copy chmod from another system running the same binary, preserving permissions, and use that version to fix permissions on the local chmod, then delete the copied chmod file." The response, "Well sure, you could do that. But we're looking for something more." And they proceeded to arbitrarily shut down every possible solution I came up with, and ask me "and then?"

"write a short c program to manipulate the file modes directly."
"Oh but you don't have a compiler. What then?"
"Use any of the scripting languages on the system to do the same thing."
"Oh, there's no scripting languages installed. What then?"
"Copy the chmod file over another, executable file, and run it that way, then put the system back in shape afterwards."
"Oh, but what if you didn't have any executable files you could overwrite?"

It was fucking annoying, and I'm not entirely sure it wasn't designed specifically to push my buttons and piss me off (it succeeded). When I spoke with the recruiter (who told me they were going to "keep looking for other candidates"), she actually told me "the main concern from the engineers was that you seemed like you might get frustrated easily, and they're a very low key, relaxed sort of group." I patiently explained to her that when you bring a person with almost 20 years of relevant technical experience in to interview, and then ask them stupid, contrived entry-level questions that are designed to annoy, it shouldn't be surprising that those technical people get annoyed with the questions, and the questioners.

Either that, or I guess my personality is just more suited to New England than it is to Silicon Valley.

Have you ever built something that worked ... (5, Interesting)

perpenso (1613749) | about a year ago | (#44079095)

"Have you ever built something that worked, show me, explain it." IMHO that is key to successfully hiring developers.

Equally important, and admittedly a little strange to some, it to ask about their personal programming projects. Nothing work related, nothing school related, just things that they sat down and programmed motivated by their own personal needs or curiosity. If a person can not offer "something" a warning bell is going off. I don't care how small, trivial, silly, etc the personal project is. I mostly want to see that personal projects exist. To me they are an indicator that the interviewee is someone who has a genuine interest in programming, that they are not merely someone who got a degree because a parent or guidance counselor told them it was a good career path.

Re:Have you ever built something that worked ... (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44079155)

That's a load of crap. People have lives outside of work. Most of the brilliant programmers I've know do nothing outside of work related to coding. I've known great programmers whose passion outside of work is music...

Re:Have you ever built something that worked ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44079253)

That's a load of crap. People have lives outside of work. Most of the brilliant programmers I've know do nothing outside of work related to coding. I've known great programmers whose passion outside of work is music...

This is very true. I know brilliant programmers who don't code outside of work, and brilliant programmers who do. I also think that people often stop coding outside of work as they get older, have kids, and just generally want more balance in their life.

Re:Have you ever built something that worked ... (4, Insightful)

ranton (36917) | about a year ago | (#44079291)

That's a load of crap. People have lives outside of work. Most of the brilliant programmers I've know do nothing outside of work related to coding. I've known great programmers whose passion outside of work is music...

I think that the technique of asking for personal programming projects works much better for recent college grads than it does for seasoned programmers. If a 22 year old never had the ambition or desire to work on something outside of their classes then I really do think that is a red flag. Unless they can instead show a very impressive research project for school, which they would have spent a good deal of their free time on, I would then assume they just went into computer science because someone told them it was a good career path.

But for someone in the field for a decade or more, they very likely only do programming at work. They probably have a family that takes a good amount of their time and other hobbies to keep ties with their social network. And personally most of my side projects are still ones that will make my job easier, such as something that scripts a complicated build process. For seasoned developers that don't have any side projects to show, I would ask what technical books / journals / blogs they read in their free time to keep up to date on the industry. If they can't answer that either, then I would start to think that they probably aren't too passionate about their career. But that alone wouldn't be a complete deal breaker if other indicators show they would perform well at the job I am hiring them for.

Re:Have you ever built something that worked ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44079401)

Disagree. I've been in the field 20+ years, and I have tons of side projects, and a wife, and two kids, and soccer, and gymnastics, etc.

It depends on what you're hiring for. If you're hiring for another corporate grunt, then yeah, no side projects, no big deal. If you're hiring for somebody who LOVES to solve the hard problems, they better have stuff going on on the side. This field changes too fast not to.

Re:Have you ever built something that worked ... (4, Insightful)

ebno-10db (1459097) | about a year ago | (#44079225)

Best not to rely on any one criterion. Personal projects are a positive indicator, but lack of them shouldn't be a show stopper. I've known some very good people, who are very interested in their work, who wouldn't have anything to do with the work when they're not on the job. Some of them even have lives (or so I've heard).

Re:Have you ever built something that worked ... (4, Insightful)

ljw1004 (764174) | about a year ago | (#44079241)

Equally important, and admittedly a little strange to some, it to ask about their personal programming projects. Nothing work related, nothing school related, just things that they sat down and programmed motivated by their own personal needs or curiosity.

Would you hire a doctor based on how many "hobby appendectomies" the candidate has performed in their garage? No.

I think your suggestion biases you towards "developer as tinkerer/craftsperson", rather than "developer as professional". I think there's room and need for both.

Re:Have you ever built something that worked ... (1)

presidenteloco (659168) | about a year ago | (#44079403)

Hobby projects demonstrate: 1) They are in the software field because they love it, they are fascinated by, and it's a large part of who they are or want to be 2) A self-motivated desire to continuously learn and continuously perfect their craft 3) Inherent creativity and inventiveness - a tendency to perceive problems or gaps in what exists and to want to solve the problems and fill the gaps Doesn't sound like someone who's going to be a terrible software engineer. And yes, if doctors could safely do hobby appendectomies in their garage and routinely had all the equipment needed in their garage, I would hire them if they did that. With software, all you need is a computer and an Internet connection, so it is perfectly reasonable to do hobby projects.

Re:Have you ever built something that worked ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44079553)

Perfectly reasonable to do the hobby projects, and perfectly stupid to screen people out based on whether or not they have them.

Lots of programmers have interests other than computers - for instance, I play music a lot in my "free" time, and I also do a lot of woodworking and furniture-making.

Frankly, I'd much rather hire somebody who's got an interest in computers, paired with an interest in other things - if you're stuck in a digital echo chamber all day and never engage in activities outside of that echo chamber, you're a one-trick pony. You can draw plenty of lessons, analogies, and inspiration from other disciplines, and in fact, many 'revolutionary' ideas in one field start with that cross-pollination of ideas from other fields.

I'd rather hire somebody who expands their mind in new and surprising directions outside of work, not somebody who basically does the same thing by rote for 16 hours a day.

Re:Have you ever built something that worked ... (1)

perpenso (1613749) | about a year ago | (#44079509)

Equally important, and admittedly a little strange to some, it to ask about their personal programming projects. Nothing work related, nothing school related, just things that they sat down and programmed motivated by their own personal needs or curiosity.

Would you hire a doctor based on how many "hobby appendectomies" the candidate has performed in their garage? No.

I think your suggestion biases you towards "developer as tinkerer/craftsperson", rather than "developer as professional". I think there's room and need for both.

Admittedly the question regarding personal projects is more relevant to someone without a track record, say a recent college grad. However even with experienced professionals it is a valuable line of inquiry. There are experienced professionals who have a genuine interest in programming, and there are those who do not, who consider it just another job. Even in college I knew some of the later who wanted to have a couple of quick jobs as developers and then get into management. While professional, their code tended to suck.

Plus the personal projects can give insight into professional behaviors with the right sort of followup questions.

Also I didn't require the personal project to be current. If a person had that interest and curiosity regarding programming back in college and had no time for such stuff once that first child was born that was fine. I'm just looking to spot those who never had such interest or curiosity. I've rarely met a great programmer who completely lacked such interest or curiosity. I've known some professionals who took the classes, got the degree, and never were very good.

Not THAT surprising. (5, Interesting)

NeutronCowboy (896098) | about a year ago | (#44079111)

But not because Google went about it wrong and screwed up its hiring process.

I've been now through a few hiring processes, have sat on Interviews, decision committees. And while I like to think that my Interviews and candidate ratings were spot-on (I correctly predicted one failure and one early resignation), I'm pretty sure that's just skewed by the small sample size. What I do know is that I went through all kinds of approaches, both as an interviewer and an interviewee. I've done brainteasers, role-playing, decision explanations, code walkthroughs, resume deep-dives, online candidate research, just shooting the breeze, and more. And I haven't found a single thing that strongly correlates with acing the interview or hiring a good worker. Resumes can lie (sometimes subtly), and you'll never find out without hiring a private investigator. Role-playing can confuse people, especially if they're trying to figure out what you're looking for. Brain teasers can be memorized, shooting the breeze can lead to unreasonable judgments (positive or negative), interviewers and interviewees can have a bad day, the other person doesn't like your first name, and a million other things.

Especially when you start talking 10s of thousands of interviews, you're actually looking at so much data, so many influencing variables that I doubt you can find one common variable that stands out from the rest. What I'm concerned about (and that comes partially from being married to someone in HR) is that there is still a drive to find the one process that will automate the hiring process. As far as I can tell, it doesn't exist. Well, let me walk that back a tiny bit: there's one thing that will work better than anything else: have the interview done by the best people you have, have them take it seriously, and spend some time on it. But it takes time, is fuzzy, and is entirely reliant on managers knowing who their best people are.

I'm glad to see that Google doesn't think Big Data is the answer to everything. I just hope that this percolates through to the rest of the HR universe. There's much too much of a drive to automate hiring, like performance reviews and firing has been.

Puzzles are pointless (5, Informative)

SnapperHead (178050) | about a year ago | (#44079113)

I have walked out of job interviews where they asked nothing but puzzles. I solve technical challenges and write code. If you really have trouble determining how many toasters you can use to cook 50 pancakes, guess what. I am not the right person for you. If you are looking for someone who can code their ass off, I am the right person.

I have interviewed hundreds of candidates over the years. I have been the hiring manager a few times and never once pulled the puzzle bullshit. I have found the best indicator in the world is to just casually bullshit about technology. You can very quickly find someones strengths, weaknesses and if they are full of it. In a casual chat, people let their guard down and you get a look in.

Re:Puzzles are pointless (2)

ebno-10db (1459097) | about a year ago | (#44079201)

I have found the best indicator in the world is to just casually bullshit about technology. You can very quickly find someones strengths, weaknesses and if they are full of it. In a casual chat, people let their guard down and you get a look in.

That's the technique that works best for me when I interview people. Typically I'll ask them to pick something on their resume to chat about. I expect the interviewee not to be happy about discussing everything on their resume, because they all contain some some exaggerations (hell, you should add some because everybody does). However, if you can't come up with anything that was interesting and challenging, and that you're comfortable talking about, you're probably a fake. Some people are even shy about what they think is tooting their horn, and I encourage them to open up (others you have to shut up).

However, I'm also convinced there is no one magic formula for hiring people. Different techniques work well for different interviewers (and interviewees). The best approach is to have a candidate interviewed by a number of people w/ different approaches.

Re:Puzzles are pointless (2)

SnapperHead (178050) | about a year ago | (#44079491)

Without a doubt there is no one magic formula. In the end you have to be able to read people. I have had people come in and clam up almost instantly because they were intimidated by me or nervous about the interview. Those are the times I take a short breather to chat about some random shit. Once they relax I get back into the thick of things. I have seen many people interview people and fail at this. They might know the answer but are overwhelmed. But this is also a good indicated of how well they will fit into the place. Some companies I have been at were chaotic, fast paced and high stress. Obviously, someone who cracks under pressure might not be what we want.

I change up my interview style a lot over time. Mostly because each company is very different and has very different needs. I wouldn't interview someone at a startup the same way as a larger established company. I also don't interview juniors and seniors the same. I don't expect a junior to have all the answers, I might need to drop them a few hints or lead them a bit. Do they understand the core concepts ? Did they learn something during a chat ? Were they interested in what they learned ? And it sounds strange but did they enjoy it ?

Re:Puzzles are pointless (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44079393)

Too bad for you. Some of the technical solutions ARE puzzles, trying unorthodox things, getting past "well it isn't supposed to work that way" or "you're not supposed to do it that way!" So keep using your hammer collection. It works for you, I guess.

Re:Puzzles are pointless (3, Interesting)

swillden (191260) | about a year ago | (#44079555)

Casual chats are okay, but they miss a lot, and favor those who are good at chatting over those who aren't.

For years my approach was to give a couple of simple programming problems to weed out those who'd waste my time, followed by a chat like you describe. It was okay. But the interview training given to me by Google showed me a much better way. It's not about "puzzles", those are pointless and Google has never used them. What works much better is to give people problems to solve and watch how they go about it. You want problems that are fairly realistic, but sufficiently self-contained they can be solved and coded in 30 minutes, and sufficiently open-ended that when you get a really good candidate who just blasts through it there's plenty of room to explore variations. You should also not be afraid to give hints if the candidate is clearly getting hung up on some bit. Obviously if you end up having to walk the person through the whole solution they're not a good hire, but even sharp people sometimes need something pointed out when they're under time pressure and being watched.

Above all, you want to identify the people who really engage with the problem, who forget about the interview and dive into it, and who show good problem-solving ability and agility.

This approach provides the interviewer with a lot more insight than casual chats, including helping you to find those people who are really capable but aren't good conversationalists.

Also known as gauntlet interviewing (4, Insightful)

undeadbill (2490070) | about a year ago | (#44079121)

As in, you had to go through a day long gauntlet of interviews asking irrelevant questions to get the gig. Surprise, they didn't get the best candidates that way!

I like TechCrunch's suggestions, as they closely mirror what the Google HR guy is implying, except for one thing:

"Finally, if they’ve gotten this far, give them an audition project. Something relatively bite-sized, self-contained, and off-critical-path, but a real project, one that will actually ship if successful."

It isn't as if I couldn't be fired on the spot in the first 3 to 6 months at any permanent job- there is this thing called being a new hire. If I had someone tell me they were going to provisionally hire me and rate my progress based on a project, fine. If they told me I would be a temp until the work is completed, I would then inform them that they will need to pay me at my contract rate until I am perm- otherwise, they are just getting me at a lower rate for contract work, and that is sketchy behavior at best.

Comparison (5, Insightful)

Space cowboy (13680) | about a year ago | (#44079125)

I've just gone through interviews at Google and Apple.

At Google, I was asked mainly theoretical questions - big-O, maths/stats, etc. And one "real" architecture/design question at the end. There were 5 interviewers and maybe 7 questions, sometimes 2 per interviewer but usually just 1 that lasted the whole hour. According to my recruiter before the decision, it was maybe 50/50 that I'd get an offer, and I did very well on the real-system design question (by inference, not so well on the others :). I didn't get the job.

At Apple, I had a seven-hour interview with seven interviewers. There were many many questions, far too many to easily remember categories, but they were all focussed on things I might end up doing, or problems that I might end up encountering. I got the job. I guess I do better with "real world" issues than the "consider two sets of numbers, one is ... the other is ...) type.

I have the self-confidence^W^W arrogance to believe I'm an asset to pretty much any company out there, but interview processes are nothing more than a gamble. Sure you can weed out the obvious under-qualified applicants, but frankly (unless the candidate is lying, and in the US that's a real no-no, in the UK padding your CV seems to be sort of expected...) that sort of candidate ought to have been pre-vetoed by the recruiter before getting to the interview.

I've yet to see the interview that guarantees a good candidate will do well. It's all about preparation: can you implement quicksort or mergesort right now, without looking it up ? The algorithm takes about 20 lines of code... Some interviews will require you to have knowledge like that; others are more concerned with how you collaborate with other candidates; still others are concerned with your code quality (I've seen a co-interviewer downmark a candidate for missing a ; at the end of a coding line. I wasn't impressed ... by the co-interviewer. But that's another story); still others are ... you get my point. Whether you do well or not can depend more on the cross-intersectional area of the interviewers style and your own credo than any knowledge you may or may not have.

So go in there expecting to be surprised, prepare what you can, be prepared to do wacky things to please "the man" interviewing you. For a good candidate, over a large number of interviews, you'll do well. The problem is that we often want a specific job, and we get depressed by the first dozen or so failed interviews. There's nothing more you can do than pick yourself up and try again. It's instructive to note that second-interviews at companies often go better than first-interviews, possibly because you're forewarned about the style a bit more, and therefore a bit better prepared...

Re:Comparison (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44079219)

People look to hire people that resemble themselves, maybe not in physical appearance and social circles so much these days (compared with the past) but in terms of their skill sets. Talkers tend to hire talkers, deep thinkers appreciate other thinkers, collaborators look for that, etc. It's a way of promoting a monoculture.

There is one exception - a person who is very pleasant and knows how to put people at ease without dominating the conversation, and is on the young side, has a big advantage at landing a job. Any job. Especially in workplaces where a single strong "NO" from any interviewer can torpedo a candidacy.

Hiring HR people (2)

ThisIsNotAName (2880693) | about a year ago | (#44079141)

If only they could figure out how to hire HR people who aren't so f---ing stupid, maybe they could come up with a decent process. The zero relationship thing doesn't surprise me at all. I thought the brain teasers as an interview sounded like one of the dumbest ideas ever.

Maybe they could test people on their problem solving abilities or even on skills related to their jobs?

Re:Hiring HR people (5, Funny)

ebno-10db (1459097) | about a year ago | (#44079249)

Catch 22: they need to find a good way to hire HR people who are good at hiring.

Nice to see some self doubt (3, Insightful)

ebno-10db (1459097) | about a year ago | (#44079145)

It's nice to see a large company try to objectively evaluate its hiring process and express some self doubt. All to often the hiring process at a company is assumed to be good because the company is successful, which is an obvious fallacy since many factors contribute to a company's success. In fact I wouldn't hire anyone who didn't immediately question such an assumption :)

All too often the hiring process at a company, or the admissions process at a university, is treated as though it were created with some magical special sauce, when in fact it does little more than reinforce some (often unstated) prejudices. It's especially troubling coming from organizations that supposedly value rational and scientific analysis.

Short Term Thinking? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44079151)

The IT has a systemic culture that expects new hires to know everything on the first day. If you only select the people who meet your immediate needs then you will probably find that you will need to spend more effort (free lunches, trips to museums, volleyball days, etc) to keep your employees motivated in the long term. My grandfather was hired into a company where he worked his whole life. He loved his company because they respected him as a person and a hard worker, not because of what he could provide the company today.

I Guess Results Don't Matter (1)

theshowmecanuck (703852) | about a year ago | (#44079165)

Q. What are some things that the managers are ranked on?
A. Some of them are very straightforward â" the manager treats me with respect, the manager gives me clear goals, the manager shares information, the manager treats the entire team fairly. These are fundamental things that turn out to be really important in making people feel excited and happy and wanting to go the extra mile for you.

Might also explain projects with no benefit. As long as their employees like the manager, everything's cool.

Re:I Guess Results Don't Matter (1)

swillden (191260) | about a year ago | (#44079473)

Q. What are some things that the managers are ranked on? A. Some of them are very straightforward â" the manager treats me with respect, the manager gives me clear goals, the manager shares information, the manager treats the entire team fairly. These are fundamental things that turn out to be really important in making people feel excited and happy and wanting to go the extra mile for you.

Might also explain projects with no benefit. As long as their employees like the manager, everything's cool.

The manager isn't really responsible for project success. That's on the engineers, especially the tech leads. Managers are responsible for keeping the employees happy and focused, and clearing distractions and obstacles. Product direction decisions are primarily the responsibility of the product managers (who aren't usually people managers) and VP-level management.

Old, old story, folks. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44079173)

When I clicked through to RTFA, I found that the posts all date from 2009, and the article itself is dated 10/29/09. So maybe this is old news, folks?

Re:Old, old story, folks. (1)

ebno-10db (1459097) | about a year ago | (#44079283)

When I clicked through to RTFA, I found that the posts all date from 2009, and the article itself is dated 10/29/09. So maybe this is old news, folks?

That's the Gawker article cited as background. The NYT article is from 3 days ago.

Yeah, a whole 3 days old... (1)

danaris (525051) | about a year ago | (#44079301)

When I clicked through to RTFA, I found that the posts all date from 2009, and the article itself is dated 10/29/09. So maybe this is old news, folks?

The NYT interview with Laszlo Bock is from June 19, 2013. 3 days ago.

So...what's old news, again?

Dan Aris

How you measure job performance matters too (3, Insightful)

g01d4 (888748) | about a year ago | (#44079183)

'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.

Do they have some objective job performance metrics that the rest of the world seems to have missed?

They missed two generations of grads (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44079189)

Everyone heard how bullshit their interview process was and skipped.

The data is masked by the hiring delays (4, Informative)

Antique Geekmeister (740220) | about a year ago | (#44079195)

I have colleagues and friends who've gone through Google hiring in the last 2 years. I've seen excellent personnel whom I've recommended not get the interview for 3 months, finally be interviewed because it turned out they were still looking to upgrade their position, and finally given job offers _over one month_ after the interview. Every single one of them found another role in the meantime, including promotions in their old company as new budgets were made to include a new position for them. The people who are still available after such a lengthy process are those who've effectively paid aa quite large Google hiring tax, of either weeks unemployed or of months at a lower salary.. While Google pays well, they don't pay well enough for people to pay such a task on the mere _hope_ of getting the Google role.

I've also seen some excellent personnel rejected because they applied for a specific role, which had requirements not in the job description and for which they were not made an offer. They were then unable to apply their existing interview results for roles which better suited their skills and which were not published as available when they applied to Google. They had to start over from the beginning. Coupled with the long hiring time for Google, and these personnel were long gone by the time they were made an offer or even interviewed for the second role.

Re:The data is masked by the hiring delays (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44079387)

I've been interviewed by Google around one year ago, and got rejected. It was not that bad, since they did a follow-up this year, but I already had a new job at a very nice company.

The interviews were nice, I did a few mistakes, but one interviewer also made a critical mistake, too. But this is to be expected. My only real concern was what you mention above. It is incredible to see how a company that streamlined and "humanized" internal processes is so obsessed with bureaucratic processes in hiring, which is imperfect anyway. It is just plain wrong to waste so much effort and candidate time on a process that does not bring real value.

Just my 2c.

(Captcha: "humane")

Re:The data is masked by the hiring delays (1)

swillden (191260) | about a year ago | (#44079487)

This is true. Google's hiring process is very slow. When I was hired it didn't really affect me because I was in a position to be picky and intentionally spent many months looking for a new job. But I'm sure it does mean a lot of people have taken something else by the time they get their Google offer. However... I know a couple of people who had taken another position, and still made the decision to go to Google instead, so having taken another job doesn't necessarily preclude accepting the offer.

Laszlo BOCK (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44079217)

Not Beck.

the team america interview process (0)

decora (1710862) | about a year ago | (#44079233)

"Let me explain to you the kind of man a Google employee is. He's a man who knows that when you put another man's cock in your mouth, you make a pact. A bond that cannot be broken. He's a man so dedicated that he will get down on his knees and put that cock right in his mouth. "

GPAs and test scores (1)

WOOFYGOOFY (1334993) | about a year ago | (#44079243)

I completely agree and would take it further and say that a lot of what gets into great universities in the first place are just exemplars people who are just personally ambitious with a drive to succeed (as opposed to curious or broadminded or interested in contributing to society in a constructive way) and rather cut throat. Which explains the behavior of a lot of academic departments.

This is far far bigger news than Cheney's "deficits don't matter' . For one, it's true. For another, someone credible with some skin in the game and a need to be right is saying it. It should get more airplay. The news is focusing in on the retiring of Google Brainteasers. That's not the headline. Here's the headline:

GPAs don't matter.

GPAs don't matter.

and for the curious (and my enemies) I had an A minus GPA.

So They Don't Understand It Either? (1)

Greyfox (87712) | about a year ago | (#44079289)

It really isn't that hard. You're looking for someone who takes pride in the quality of their work and ideally actually enjoys doing it. You may also be looking for someone who will work well on your team, or who can be fantastic as a lone gunman with relatively little micro-management. The brain teasers work pretty well because it's pretty easy to spot someone who will just give up without thinking about the problem. They also do a good job of finding the people who aren't really paying attention to you during the interview. If you're a bad interviewer, you think you're looking for someone who can answer the questions correctly and just look at that and not their entire thought process as they try to solve the problem. Do they break the problem down into solvable components? If they get off track, will they pay attention to the hints you give them to get them back on track? Do they try to bullshit their way through with a non-answer (In which case you should refer them to marketing or management.)

If you know what you're looking for, you don't even really need a brain teaser. The old design-a-trivial-function along with some basic questions about data structures or design patterns will weed out most of the really bad candidates. Ten seconds into "design a function on the whiteboard," I already know if it's going to go badly or not. If they're just crapping code onto the whiteboard, it's going badly. In ten seconds I've pulled back the veil of all the buzz words they used to get through HR to the interview and can see exactly how they're going to work under pressure. I'll take a high school dropout who actually takes the time to make sure he understands the question and shows me he can design a solution over a PhD who tries to BFI his way through.

Bad statistics (1)

deego (587575) | about a year ago | (#44079307)

I can't believe Google can miss the obvious confounding, lurking variable "WAS S/HE HIRED" which is obviously not controlled for.

They found that candidates who scored lowest (zero) on one factor (YET GOT HIRED), actually did good. Does that mean that scores are meaningless?

That conclusion you may draw about scores is incorrect because it ignores the YET GOT HIRED variable. If you got hired in spite of a really, really bad score (zero), you must have an outstanding redeeming quality to have gotten hired. Maybe you are the inventor of Go. Of course, you did pretty well at the job.

Does that mean test scores are meaningless? Of course not.

Re:Bad statistics (1)

swillden (191260) | about a year ago | (#44079421)

Google didn't miss that variable. The study was an analysis of how interview scores correlated with job performance, not how well interview scores correlated with whether or not the candidate was a good hire. An employee who does a decent job, getting acceptable but not outstanding performance reviews is still a good hire, whether interview scores were marginal or outstanding. Some small fraction of hires turn out to have been mistakes, of course, but at Google that percentage is quite small, which indicates that the interview process does a reasonably good job of avoiding false positives. It just doesn't do much more than that.

Re:Bad statistics (1)

deego (587575) | about a year ago | (#44079455)

>> The study was an analysis of how interview scores correlated with job performance, not how well interview scores correlated with whether or not the candidate was a good hire

The whole article is about revamping the hiring process. The unsaid inference is that interview scores are not a good indication of whether the candidate is a good hire or not.
 

Mansplain (1)

Ice Station Zebra (18124) | about a year ago | (#44079309)

Do you want me to mansplain or do you want me to actually solve real problems? Your choice google.

Re:Mansplain (1)

swillden (191260) | about a year ago | (#44079429)

Do you want me to mansplain or do you want me to actually solve real problems? Your choice google.

The latter. In fact, mainsplaining to your interviewers at Google will get you dinged for "poor culture fit", even if your answers are correct and your code is good.

Good tips from the TechCrunk link (1)

michaelmalak (91262) | about a year ago | (#44079323)

I was all prepared to snark with, "Great, without technical questions, now hiring will be based on personal acquaintances only, resulting in unintended disadvantages to minorities and groups not typically represented in the technical work force." Sadly, though, I read the techcrunch.com [techcrunch.com] piece linked in the Slashdot summary, and they not only outline a great alternative hiring process, they specifically caution against homogeneity.

Techcrunch.com's "discuss their past projects" reminds me of the best interview question I've ever learned. I learned it by being on the receiving end of a Microsoft interview 15-20 years ago. Every time I made a bold claim of my capabilities, the phone interviewer simply responded with, "can you give me an example of that?" Now when I interview people that I'm hiring, it's my number one question. I use that line over and over again, on every interview I conduct.

The interview paradigm is broken (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44079329)

The bigger story is that the current model of HR mass screening resumes by who-knows-what criteria (keywords I guess?) is completely broken. Is there evidence that companies know how to hire effectively? Are there any companies that do it right? Hell, nepotism has more going for it than the tech interview.

sounds like admissions at Stanford University (1)

jclaer (306442) | about a year ago | (#44079345)

We've had similar experiences here. The best advice I can offer was already offered by Sal Kahn recently being interviewed by the president of MIT. Interested? Go find it on youtube.

No new information here (4, Interesting)

swillden (191260) | about a year ago | (#44079347)

I suppose it's news that the internal study found no correlation between interview scores and job performance, but everyone at Google recognizes that getting hired is a crapshoot. Not totally random, of course; there are plenty of candidates who simply aren't going to get hired, ever, because they don't have what it takes. But (I'm speaking of engineers here, dunno about other areas), everyone knows that candidates who are of the caliber Google seeks may or may not pass the interview process, and whether or not they do is pretty much a toss of the dice. I've heard rumors of a an internal study that took successful Google engineers and put them through the interview and hiring process, obscuring their employee status... and about half of them were "re-hired".

Also, as McDowell's blog post says, Google has always instructed interviewers not to use "brainteaser" questions. It probably does still happen once in a while -- indeed one of my interviewers asked me a "bonus" question, after I'd already demolished his design/coding problem, which arguably falls into that category (I failed to answer it) -- but they're doing it wrong and the hiring committee will let them know it.

Anyway, so if Google's process has such random results, why do they continue to use it? Simple: because nobody has found a better way. And the study results mentioned are a little misleading if you don't understand them in context: The study was of tens of thousands of interviews and their correlation with the performance of people who were hired. And nearly all of the people who are hired by Google go on to have successful careers at Google. What the study shows is that the degree of success is not correlated with the strength of the hiring recommendations.

On the other hand, as someone who came to Google with 20+ years of industry experience already behind him as a basis for comparison, I'll tell you one thing about the Google hiring process: It hires good people. It also fails to hire a lot of good people, but there are vanishingly few plodders or obstructionists around. In the 2.5 years I've worked for Google I have worked with well over 100 engineers (my work tends to touch lots of teams), and I've met one, maybe two, who weren't bright, highly competent and very effective, and even those one or two would be good-performers most places. That is very different from my prior experience, and I worked with a lot of high-profile companies.

As another data point, at every one of my prior employers I was something of a star, commonly called a "genius" and similar in performance reviews. At Google... I'm merely competent, perhaps a bit below average. Many of my colleagues are much smarter than me, and the superstars at Google are absolutely brilliant. One woman in particular who I've worked with quite a bit is always at least four steps ahead of me. She constantly says things that I think are stupid... until I have time to catch up with her thought process. She also talks faster than anyone I've ever met, in an attempt to try to keep up with her brain, I think. Talking to her is exhausting, but exhilarating. I've taken to structuring my conversations with her so they are always interrupted after no more than five minutes because that's about all I can take before I need to go process for a while. My consolation is that I notice many other people interact with her in the same way. Overall, my experience of Google employees that they're all smart, energetic and talented, with a strong leavening of the truly brilliant, and that perception extends even outside of engineering. Hell, our building facilities manager is really sharp.

What I experience of my colleagues is exactly what Google aims to achieve: since there's no known way to make accurate hiring decisions, the interview process aims primarily to filter out candidates who aren't fairly outstanding. In the process, it excludes a lot of really talented people, but it's very effective at excluding basically all of the poor to mediocre candidates.

I'm just glad the dice went my way when I interviewed.

so its a social club (0, Troll)

decora (1710862) | about a year ago | (#44079411)

i think i'd rather blow my fucking brains out than spend any appreciable amount of time with a bunch of stuck up, self satisified mutual dick sucking circle jerk asswipes that would post something so fucking pretentiously awful as what you just posted here.

Big data works for hourly applicants (1)

edcheevy (1160545) | about a year ago | (#44079385)

I work on the pre-hiring screening tool validations at Evolv (full disclosure: Lazslo sits on Evolv's board). I am not at all surprised that silly tech interview questions predict next to nothing. What I can tell you is that validated personality and work-style questions absolutely do predict success among entry-level workers (and if you do it right, professional individual contributors). Like they touch on in the interview, a combination of a structured behavioral interview plus some simple personality screening can be a great screening tool, but you have to balance the raw "big data" results with practical, legal, and applicant experience concerns.

Or they are bad at judging OTJ performance (1)

wisnoskij (1206448) | about a year ago | (#44079407)

Let us not forget that judging how well someone is doing at their job is not necessarily any easier than judging how well they would do from an interview.
Who knows where the randomness comes from. Maybe they are pretty bad at both categories, but also are not horrible. Maybe their style of interview is as good or better than most, but they are just shitty at judging on the job performance.

Lets just not pretend that they are 100% accurate at measuring everything except for interviewee skill.

It's the school system (1)

subanark (937286) | about a year ago | (#44079409)

The issue is that the reduced funding for schools (both K-12 and college) has resulted in corruption in the degree. The schools cannot properly evaluate much less teach the concepts to students. There is a large amount of "don't let anyone fail" that puts pressure to simply let those that can't get though school or don't try hard enough to pass anyways. Someone that is getting a degree in the department I work for (at a university) will most likely get a PhD despite not really even being qualified for a BS. Why? His family is rich and is willing to fund grants.

My interview experience with Google... (2)

pongo000 (97357) | about a year ago | (#44079441)

...started with a phone interview a couple of years back (2006 maybe?). I was asked some run-of-the-mill questions, then the bombshell: An obscure question about an obscure RFC that had to do with big integer number representations. I told the interviewer that I really didn't know, and would she like me to wing an answer or get back to her on it? She told me to wing an answer. So I did. Later, I looked up the RFC and saw that I was more wrong than right.

Strangely, they offered to fly me to Mountain View for a second interview. Not so strangely, I declined. And I've never regretted the decision.

Odd (2)

bWareiWare.co.uk (660144) | about a year ago | (#44079469)

If GPAs are not an indicator but Google thought they where then their sample should show a negative correlation. i.e. people who were hired with low GPAs against the policy must have had something going for them?

Load More Comments
Slashdot Login

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?