How Google Works: Hire the Right People

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Hiring the right people is difficult. Finding someone you can trust, delegate tasks to, and who is able to manage part of your businesses everyday affairs is an inherently difficult task — especially when there is no specific science or exact strategy to turn to.

However, one company is revolutionizing the approach to hiring: unsurprisingly, it’s Google.

Eric Schmidt, former Google CEO, explains the company’s innovative and in-depth hiring process in his book, How Google Works. Google has always been known for their successful hiring practices, but thanks to Schmidt’s book, the company’s analytical and structured approach to hiring is gaining traction with businesses across the nation. Max Nisen, a reporter for Business Insider, points out that,

“Google likely sees more data than any company on the planet. And that obsession carries through to hiring and management, where every decision and practice is endlessly studied and analyzed.”

But what about Google’s strategy makes them so successful? Let’s explore some aspects of their hiring practices and find the takeaways that can benefit any company.

The Google Way

Google combs through thousands of job applications every day of the week. Applicants from different educational backgrounds, personal histories, and professional trajectories apply to Google each day in the hopes of landing a job with the tech giant. With so much data to analyze, it’s no surprise that the company is attempting to make hiring a science. But how? Issie Lapowski, a columnist for Inc Magazine,explains,

“True to form, the search giant has scoured its data over the years in hopes of determining what attributes successful employees share and which hiring strategies actually expose those attributes.”

Here are few strategies and practices Google has found to be effective:

Get Involved

Our employees are the lifeblood of our companies. The quality of the tasks each and every employee completes everyday directly correlates to the quality of the overall product and success of the company. We must ensure every employee is qualified for the position they are appointed to and driven to complete quality work daily. The easiest way to guarantee this: be involved in ALL of the hiring decisions yourself.

Larry Page, co-founder and current CEO of Google, agrees. In 2015 alone, Google hired over 6,000 employees. Page approved each one of them individually. Richard Feloni, writing for Business Insider,explains why,

“He [Page] developed a formal approval system because while he hates bureaucracy, [and] he wants the company to feel true to his vision as it grows exponentially.”

Page has said it is his way of “knowing what's really going on” inside his company.

We need to okay everything ourselves. If we trust someone else to make judgment calls on the employees who will be running the company, then we can’t complain when those same employees make mistakes. While it's important to have other trusted perspectives involved in the process, company leaders need to have a high level of involvement to ensure that every new hire fits our vision for the future.

The More the Better

That said, no single person should have the final say in hiring. This places too much importance in the hands of one person and far too much weight on a single opinion or judgment. At Google potential applicants are screened not only by HR managers, but also by their potential bosses, future colleagues and team members, plus a hiring committee before making it all the way to Page himself.

This complex, collaborative system of hiring ensure that one negative opinion doesn’t override ten positive ones. Jillian D'Anfro, a business tech columnist for Business Insider,explains the advantages of this system,

“Especially when the team is small, a collaborative hiring effort ensures that everyone feels good about this foreign person joining their team. The new employee needs to mesh well with the other people with whom he or she will be working day-in and day-out, after all.”

This also sends the message that new employees are accountable to the entire organization, so every task is valued and expected to be completed with the highest quality possible.

An Unscientific Science

Formalizing a process is helpful (especially with a high volume of applicants), but the reality is that hiring is an inexact science. Even Google’s leading execs admit this.

Years ago, the tech giant reviewed thousands of applicants' interview scores and attempted to equate these with future performance in the company. The conclusion: no one is perfect at predicting an applicant's future performance. Lapowsky quotes Lazlo Bock,Google’s Senior Vice President of People Operations,

“We found zero relationship,” he [Bock] said. “It was a complete random mess.” Now, Google uses a consistent rubric to assess candidates, Bock says, “rather than having each interviewer just make stuff up.”

In their search to make hiring more predictable and structured, Google has turned towards using pre-determined rubrics to make the practice easier for both the interviewer and the subsequent committees.

Whether we run a business with 1 employee or 100, it is important to understand that the people we hire have a major affect on the success of our business. Larry Page understands this and attributes a major portion of Google’s growing success to his employees at all levels. With so much at stake, it's necessary to continually analyze and improve upon our approach to hiring. Hopefully, taking a page out of Google's book can make the next hire easier and more effective.

Have your own strategies for hiring great people? Tweet us @EidsonPartners!

One thought on “How Google Works: Hire the Right People

  1. Pingback: How Google Works: Ignorance Is Not Bliss | Eidson & Partners

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