Google Goes to Great Lengths to Hire Right Folks; Maybe You Should, Too

Ann All


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If the Job Fits

Five questions you should ask before accepting your next IT job.

I and other tech industry bloggers tend to focus on specific skill sets when writing about the IT job market. Everyone wants to know which technology skills are in demand now and maybe get an inkling of which skills will be popular in the future. Yet those skills may not be enough to get folks a job at companies that prize a close cultural fit.


I've cited Google and Zappos as examples of employers that put a lot of effort into hiring folks that possess values and goals that match those of the company. Commenting on a post in which I addressed this topic, Michelle@Appirio mentioned that her employer (which perhaps not coincidentally was earlier this year named one of "America's most promising startups" by BusinessWeek) asks interviewers to rate candidates based on three core values, to ensure those values are considered during the interview process. Appirio, which provides cloud solutions, also gives every candidate an opportunity to visit headquarters and personally meet members of the executive team.


I think this kind of attention to cultural fit is becoming a key differentiator as more millennials enter the workplace. Many don't want to settle for a "punching the clock" kind of job and are looking for career opportunities that will engage them on a personal level.


With that in mind, it's interesting to get a peek at the hiring process at Google from Don Dodge, a developer advocate at the company. (So Dodge works with one of the hottest tech skills at one of the hottest tech companies.) Writing on his The Next Big Thing blog, Dodge explains how Google winnows down a million applicants to the 1,000 to 4,000 people it hires every year.


Dodge thinks the evaluation process is what really sets Google's hiring practices apart from other companies. It accepts resumes online and uses recruiters to perform initial screenings, weeding out what I'm sure are lots of folks that lack even the basic skills it seeks. Those folks receive polite rejections, and their resumes go into a file. It starts to get interesting with phone screenings, which are conducted by Google employees in roles similar to those of the desired job. Folks applying for technical jobs may be asked to write code in a shared Google Doc during a call to "further assess ... technical skills, past experience and innovation."


Google employees play a pretty key role throughout much of the hiring process. For instance, they often participate in on-site interviews. Although much of those interviews focus on domain-specific experience, with technical candidates asked to code a solution or draw a design and marketing candidates asked to provide writing samples, Dodge says candidates may be asked some seemingly out-of-left-field questions like "How many golf balls can fit in a school bus?" The purpose, he says, is to observe a candidate's thought process, determine if the candidate can think quickly under pressure, and see how the candidate articulates his or her ideas.


All interviewers submit feedback on candidates, which is reviewed by a recruiter and compared to feedback for other candidates. A search is done to match a candidate's resume to those of Google employees stored in a database to find matches for schools or companies mentioned on the candidate's resume. Those employees are asked to submit their feedback on the candidate.


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