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What does Google think about hiring graduates from top schools?

Posted by Bien Nguyen on Aug 6, 2014 10:00:00 AM

Google has spent years studying their top performers to identify attributes that make these employees perform so well at Google. Amazingly, what they found is GPAs, brand name schools or interview brain teasers don’t really matter.

In an interview with New York Times, Google’s head of people operations, Laszlo Bock, detailed reasons why academic credentials are not the factors that Google looks for in their candidates. 

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Laszlo Bock – Senior vice president of people operations, Google

Graduates from top schools usually lack “intellectual humility”

Google highly appreciates people who have the ability to step back and embrace others’ ideas when they are better. “We call it intellectual humility. Without intellectual humility, you are unable to learn new things and learn from others. Almost successful graduates believe that they are talented and they have been taught to rely on that talent, which makes them unable to fail gracefully. They also rarely experience failure, and so they don’t learn how to learn from that failure.” Bock said.

Bock also indicated that: bright people commit the fundamental attribution error, which is if something good happens, it’s because I’m a genius. If something bad happens, it’s because someone’s an idiot or other people didn’t support me to do the job”.

Google employees without college are often the most exceptional

Talent exists everywhere, if your hiring managers only rely on a few top schools to recruit, it is definitely a huge mistake, your company will miss a lot of candidates who are perfectly fit for the job position. “When you look at people who don’t go to school and make their way in the world, those are exceptional human beings. And we should do everything we can to find those people.” Bock said. He also stressed that many colleges/universities deliver their students things which are not useful to apply in the real working environment.

Ability to learn is much more important than IQ

Bock has previously said that college grades and test scores have almost no correlation to future job performance; and college can be an “artificial environment” that conditions for one type of thinking. IQ is less valuable than the ability to learn on the fly. Therefore, in the recruitment process, Google now no longer asks for college transcripts or conducts interview brain teasers. Bock called those things a complete waste of time because they don’t predict anything about the candidate, they serve primarily to make the interviewer feel smart.

Instead, Google applies behavioural interviews into their recruitment process. At Google, for every job, the #1 thing that they look for is general cognitive ability, and it’s not IQ. It’s learning ability. “Through behavioural interviews, we would like to see how the candidates reacted to a particularly difficult problem in the past and ability to deal with real cases that we give them. This method of assessing candidates helps us understand the candidates better to find people who fit the company’s culture, working environment as well as identify people who have the ability to step up and lead when it’s necessary. Bock explained.

You may be interested in "How to hire a right person for a right job? A case study of Heineken"

In 2013, Twentieth Century Fox introduced a movie "The Internship" with 2 stars Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson. The idea behind this movie was from the actual internship recruitment process of Google. You can watch this movie to have interesting insights on employee assessments and the working environment of Google.

Trailer "The internship"

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Topics: Effective Hiring, right hiring, recruitment, recruiting, hiring, effective hr manager

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