Does our Approach to Hiring Lack Rigor?

Think about last five people you interviewed for a job, Laszlo Bock suggests in his terrific book Work Rules!, about his time as Chief of People Operations at Google.

Did you give them similar questions or did each person get different questions?

Did you write up detailed notes so that other interviewers could benefit from your insights?

Did you hold them to exactly the same standard?

Did you cover everything or run out of time?

His point?

Our approach to interviewing – and hiring generally – lacks discipline and rigor.

The answer?

“A boring-seeming rubric is the key to quantifying and taming this mess,” Lazslo writes.

Yesterday, we covered the importance of conducting structured behavioral and situational interviews.  

Behavioral interviews are about matching prior achievements to the current job.  Think: “Tell me about a time when…” questions.

Situational interview ask about job-related hypothetical situations.  Think: “What would you do if…” questions.

The next best practice is to score the questions on a consistent rubric.  Each performance level needs to be clearly defined.  Interviewers should rate and then explain their score in writing so later reviewers can make their own assessment.

Here’s an example of what the rubric might look like for a tech support job:

Solid answer: “I fixed the laptop battery like my customer asked.”

Outstanding answer: “Since he complained about battery life in the past and was about to go on a trip, I’d also get a spare battery in case he needed it.”

Google has four distinct attributes that predict whether someone will be successful at their organization:

1: General cognitive ability.  Note: Google wants smart people, but they don’t hire exclusively for smarts

2: Emergent leadership (Drew note: similar to servant leadership)

3: Googleyness

4: Role-related knowledge

Once they identified their four attributes, they began requiring two independent interviewers to assess and provide feedback on each attribute. This written feedback includes the attribute being assessed, the question asked, the candidate’s answer and the interviewer’s assessment of the answer.  

The benefit of doing so?

It allows subsequent reviewers to independently assess the candidate’s answers.

Google has found that four interviews is the right number to optimally predict the success of a candidate in the open role. The Google recruiter does the first interview and focuses on general cognitive ability, i.e. problem-solving and learning, so later interviewers can focus on other attributes like leadership.  

Warning:  Laszol warns interviewers will want to ask their own questions and not want to provide write-ups.

His recommendation:  Don’t give in.

__________________

Reflection: How disciplined is my organization’s hiring process?

Action:  Read Chapter 5 of Work Rules!, and put one idea into action.

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