How Google Chooses Employees

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Finding the best engineers, programmers, and sales repre¬sentatives is a challenge for any company, but it's espe¬cially rough for a company growing as fast as Google. In recent years, the company has doubled its ranks every year and has no plans to slow its hiring. More than 100,000 job applications pour into Google every month, and staffers have to sort through them to fill as many as 200 positions a week.

Early on, the company narrowed the pool of applicants by setting a very high bar on traditional measures such as academic success. For example, an engineer had to have made it through school with a 3.7 grade-point average. Such criteria helped the company find a manageable number to applicants to interview, but no one had really considered whether they were the most valid way to pre¬dict success at the company.

More recently, the company has tried to apply its quan¬titative excellence to the problem of making better selec¬tion decisions. First, it set out to measure which selection criteria were important. It did this by conducting a survey of employees who had been with Google for at least five months. These questions addressed a wide variety of char¬acteristics, such as areas of technical expertise, workplace behavior, personality, and even some nonworking habits that might uncover something important about candidates. For example, perhaps subscribing to a certain magazine or owning a dog could be related to success are Google by in¬directly measuring some important trait no one had thought to ask about. The results of the survey were com¬pared with measures of successful performance, including performance appraisals, compensation, and organizational citizenship (behaving in ways that contribute to the com¬pany beyond what the job requires).

One important lesson of this effort was that academic performance was not the best predictor of success at Google. No single factor predicted success at every job, but a combination of factors could help...
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