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It’s Time To Change Your Hiring Practices – Lessons from Google and Apple

It’s Time To Change Your Hiring Practices – Lessons from Google and Apple

Hiring staff is an inexact science plain and simple. Chances are, your organization is still in the Stone Age when it comes to how you hire, usually to make it easier for a diverse range of hiring managers to use a consistent approach to selecting candidates as well as a way to reduce the risk associated with inappropriate questions or legal challenges.

Even Google admits that some of its past hiring practices were ineffective. Recently, Laszlo Bock, SVP, People Operations at Google said they have abandoned their famous brainteaser questions, which they now feel were a complete waste of time. They also stopped asking for transcripts, test scores and GPA averages for all but the most recent graduates. “We found that they don’t predict anything”, said Bock.

It's not surprising. The ability to succeed in a school environment doesn't necessarily predict somebody's ability to succeed in a business environment.

In fact, Google has started hiring more people without formal college or university education. Of course that works for some positions, but there are still roles that require some sort of formal education and high-level technical expertise.

While Google's hiring practices have been fairly transparent, Apple has been less open about its approach. Based on the experience of somebody I know who recently went through the Apple hiring process, they take a very rigorous and active approach to getting the right person. It included multiple interviews with multiple levels of management as well as group meetings (with other candidates) where you have to speak in front of strangers and act out scenarios. This is consistent with reports from other candidates. I was told that they appeared more interested in the individual, their personality, their passions and their skills instead of asking old-school interview questions.

Speaking of which, if your organization still uses the stock questions "what is your greatest strength?" and "what is your greatest weakness?" then your hiring process needs an overhaul.

I used to tell people looking for a job that they should read the book "96 great interview questions to ask before you hire" and pay close attention to the section from each question on analyzing the response. Knowing exactly what an interviewer is looking for from each question gives candidates an edge. As a result, few of these stock questions are valid reference point for hiring somebody if they can be gamed so easily.

When I graduated from college far too many years ago, I went on many interviews and received several job offers since it was a booming economy at the time. Two interviews which showed a stark contrast was between Procter & Gamble and de Haviland, an airplane manufacturer.

My interview with de Haviland was less than two hours long, but most of it was a walk-through of their manufacturing facilities and it almost felt like a sales pitch to me. There were very few questions asked and very little discussion with the hiring manager. The next day, I received a job offer.

The other interview with Procter & Gamble was much longer and included one-on-one discussions and very few formal interview questions with the HR manager, the person who would've been my boss as well as his boss. They also had me sit down with somebody already doing the job they were hiring me for and she spent about an hour with me discussing the job and probably getting a feel for who I was to report back to their manager. I joined them for lunch in the cafeteria for another long discussion. The interview did include a formal written test which felt like a psychology and cognitive test based on the types of questions asked. I received a job offer as a result of this interview as well.

It was clear to me then which process was most likely to be more effective and as a result, which company I would have wanted to work for, although I ended up accepting a different offer.

With companies like Google and Apple as well as many other leading organizations transforming the way they hire, your organization needs to do the same.

Instead of relying on stock questions and a sheet with tick boxes in a place to score the candidate, apply hiring practices that are more likely to get the candidate that not only has the technical abilities but fits your culture, fits your team, has the passion and has the characteristics and raw capabilities to succeed in the role and perhaps eventually move to another level or two.

Hiring someone is an important investment for your organization so take the time to do it right. You and your organization will be better for it.


About Michel Theriault

Michel is the founder of Success Fuel for Managers. He is an author, speaker and consultant focusing on topics relevant to Managers and aspiring Managers in businesses of all sizes who want to get results, get attention, and get ahead. He is also a contributor to Forbes and AllBusiness Experts . Michel is available for speaking engagements, training and consulting. Connect with him or send an email.

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