6 hiring lessons from Google that every small business needs to know

hiring lessons from Google

Google might be globally renowned for its over-the-top perks, but it’s equally well-known for its ingenious hiring tactics. And these recruitment strategies are a lot easier for small businesses to adopt than nap pods and free meals.

Here are a few of the more illuminating small business hiring lessons from Google.

Set your hiring managers up to succeed

In an article for Wired, Google’s former HR guru, Laszlo Bock, talked about qDroid, an internal tool that helps hiring managers ask the right questions. Basically, they select the job they’re hiring for and the characteristics they’re hoping to find, and the tool sends them a list of interview questions that will (hopefully) elicit the right information from a candidate. “The neat trick here is that, while interviewers can certainly make up their own questions if they wish, by making it easier to rely on the prevalidated ones, we’re giving a little nudge toward better, more reliable interviewing,” says Bock. Even if you don’t have a tool like qDroid in place, developing a list of top-performing interview questions for your managers to choose from will ensure a consistent process.

…and set your candidates up to succeed, too

Google’s career site is jam packed with info for potential applicants, but one notable feature is the resume and interview tips. For example, one tip suggests thinking up the top 20 interview questions you can expect to get – and writing down three answers to each one. There’s even info on what to wear to the interview. Candidates should never be in the dark about what you’re looking for, and the more information you can provide ahead of time, the better.

Ask behavioural questions

In an interview with the New York Times, Bock spoke about the use of data, and what it has taught Google about hiring. And the data shows that while weird brainteasers don’t predict anything (“How many golf balls can you fit into an airplane?” and the like), structured behavioural interview questions produce results. “You have a consistent rubric for how you assess people, rather than having each interviewer just make stuff up,” he says. Get some great examples of behaviour interview questions here.

Don’t dwell on academics

In the same article, Bock explains how data showed Google that G.P.A.’s are “worthless as a criteria for hiring.” There’s almost no correlation between good grades and job performance – unless a candidate is just out of school, the company doesn’t even look at a transcript any more. In fact, Google is hiring more and more people without any college education. “We have teams where you have 14 per cent of the team made up of people who’ve never gone to college,” says Bock.

Take the time to woo top talent

In his 2015 book, Work Rules, Bock talks about how the best people are often not actively looking to make a career change. It’s important to invest time and energy into targeting top talent and selling them on your company. “Every person I’ve hired is better than me in some meaningful way . . . I learn from them every week. And I waited a long time to hire each one.” Bock uses the example of Karen May, who he courted for four years before finally enticing her to join Google as VP of people development. “It takes longer to find these exceptional people but it’s always worth the wait.”

Don’t give all the power to hiring managers

Another tip from Bock’s book: make sure that HR (or, in smaller companies, a hiring committee or the owner) holds the reins in the hiring process. “Managers want to pick their own teams,” writes Bock. “But even the best-intentioned managers compromise their standards as searches drag on.” For example, if a manager is looking for an administrative assistant, Bock says that they’ll start out with the bar high, but by day 90, “they will take anyone who will answer a phone.”

In reality, these hiring lessons from Google are all about creating a consistent process to make every hire as efficient and meaningful as possible. What more could we all ask for?

See also:
How Shopify finds and fosters talent
SkillsCamp: how a soft skills school finds talent


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