Behavioral Interviewing: Google does it right

By Adam Robinson,
June 20, 2013

The HR world was abuzz early this morning as the New York Times posted a great interview with Google’s SVP of People Operations, Laszlo Bock, about hiring. The first thing I thought when I heard about the article was, “Oh joy, here comes another article where a Google employee talks about all the weird interview questions they ask that really predict success.”

However, I was happy to read Bock strongly debunk “brainteaser” interview questions as a complete waste of time and then cite structured behavioral interviewing as the key to great employees. 

Considering I spend a majority of my time trying to educate Hireology users on behavioral interviewing, I think this article will do a great job getting people to pay more attention to structured interviews. Because obviously, when Google talks, you better believe people listen.

Structure your Interview Process

In the article published yesterday, Bock explained that Google investigated their interviewing process a few years ago, and after combing through tens of thousands of interviews, all they found was a “complete random mess.” In order to turn around their selection process, they began “looking at what makes people successful leaders and how can we cultivate that.”

Bock described the process that lead Google to form a structured interview process, “where you have a consistent rubric for how you assess people, rather than having each interviewer just make stuff up.” He also emphasized not to ask a candidate a hypothetical question, but start a question with, ‘Give me an example of a time when you solved an analytically difficult problem.’

This results in the interviewer discovering two key pieces of information about the candidate. “One is you get to see how they actually interacted in a real-world situation, and the valuable ‘meta’ information you get about the candidate is a sense of what they consider to be difficult.”

Brainteasers are a waste

Bock also touched on what I mentioned above, those weird interview questions or “brainteasers” that seem to be a hot topic in HR these days, are a total waste of time. Bock said, asking things like, “How many golf balls can you fit into an airplane?” isn’t relevant, “They don’t predict anything. They serve primarily to make the interviewer feel smart.” Well there you have it people, Google spoke, so listen!

So in the end, Google’s people department spent tons of time researching their employee success rate, how to fill open positions, and their interview procedure. Hireology’s selection management platform has mirrored this time-consuming process, and it made it as easy as clicking a few buttons. Our technology allows our users to bypass the act of collecting “big data” and instead access the tools they need to choose the right person like a pro, or may we say, a Google employee.

To read the full article click here. 

Erin Borgerson is the Marketing Coordinator/Tweeter/Crisis Controller/Culture Ambassador (the last two titles she gave to herself) for Hireology, a web-based tool that provides customized interviews, job profiling, and one-click background checks to help you hire the right person. Start your free trial at www.Hireology.com today!

About the Author

Adam co-founded Hireology with the mission to help growing companies make better hiring decisions through data and better technology. Adam is passionate about entrepreneurship, donating time to a number of organizations that support the entrepreneurial cause. Adam completed his undergraduate study at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and received his MBA from DePaul University in Chicago, IL.

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