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January 03, 2007

Google Looking for the Interview Formula

Interesting article in the New York Times today about a new interview idea from Google. Basically, they surveyed all of their current employees to fill out a 300-question survey. Then they picked a subset of those questions that seemed most correlated, and ask those questions of job applicants. The idea being to pick the people who are most like their current workforce.

You could argue that a geek-driven tech startup trying to make the transition to household brand should be trying to choose people who are UNLIKE their current workforce, but I still like this idea. It's very Gladwellesque in its reliance on hard data at the expense of facts that "everybody knows", of which there is an overabundance in the world of tech interviewing.

For the Bill Gates Thinkweek last spring, I wrote a paper proposing that we look at current Microsoft employees and try to establish a correlation between the types of interview questions they were asked, and how they did on the job (realizing that we would only be able to find techniques that hired bad candidates, not ones that didn't hire good candidates). You submit a paper and then hope that Bill will comment on it, but in this case he didn't say anything (so I don't know if he even read it). I don't think ideas like that are Bill Gates's cup of tea, but evidently they work for Sergey and Larry.

Posted by AdamBa at January 3, 2007 09:57 PM

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The obvious problem with this (or any constant test - why are manhole covers round anyone ?) is that eventually the "correct" answers are widely known and you can just game the system.

Posted by: Avi at January 4, 2007 08:00 PM