The Key to Interviewing at Google

shutterstock_Ken Wolter

Wired has an excerpt from a new book of Google-centric workplace advice, written by Laszlo Bock, the search-engine giant’s head of “People Operations” (re: Human Resources).

In an interesting twist, Bock kicks off the excerpt by describing the brainteaser questions that Google is famous for tossing at job candidates as “useless,” before suggesting that some hiring managers at the company might still use them. (“Sorry about that,” he offered.) Rather than ask candidates to calculate the number of golf balls that can fit inside a 747 (or why manhole covers are round), Google now runs its candidates through a battery of work-sample tests and structured interviews, which its own research and data-crunching suggest is best at finding the most successful candidates.

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“The goal of our interview process is to predict how candidates will perform once they join the team,” Bock wrote. “We achieve that goal by doing what the science says: combining behavioral and situational structured interviews with assessments of cognitive ability, conscientiousness, and leadership.”

Google also relies on a tool (known as qDroid), which automates some of the process—the interviewer can simply input which job the candidate is interviewing for, and receive a guide with optimized interview questions.

As Bock acknowledges, the “pre-validated” questions in the structured-interview portion can seem pretty bland. For example:

  • “Tell me about a time your behavior had a positive impact on your team.
  • “Tell me about a time when you effectively managed your team to achieve a goal. What did your approach look like?
  • “Tell me about a time you had difficulty working with someone (can be a coworker, classmate, client). What made this person difficult to work with for you?”

But it’s not about the questions: It’s how the candidates answer them. “Superb candidates will have much, much better examples and reasons for making the choices they did,” he wrote. “You’ll see a clear line between the great and the average.”

In other words, if you ever happen to interview at Google, don’t go in expecting to field puzzle questions; instead, prepare for a much more conventional (if exhaustive) assessment. There’s much more at Wired.

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Image: Ken Wolter

2 Responses to “The Key to Interviewing at Google”

  1. decline to state

    The only way I can make sense out of this article is if it applies to HR or non-technical roles.

    I am a software engineer, and you better know how to program if you interview with me.

    Also, the puzzle questions were outlawed 10 years ago