Google's Hiring Method Missing Key Steps

Nov 2


Michael Mercer, Ph.D.

Michael Mercer, Ph.D.

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The Wall Street Journal (10/23/06, pages B1 & B8) reports on Google revamping its hiring methods.


The Wall Street Journal (10/23/06,Google's Hiring Method Missing Key Steps Articles pages B1 & B8) reports on Google revamping its hiring methods.  Google is on the right track, but is sorely missing crucial pre-employment tests plus other prediction methods. 

Google needs a step-by-step hiring process, such as my "7-Step Method to Hire the Best(tm)."  The "7-Step Method to Hire the Best(tm)" zooms in on predicting if an applicant has skills and talents similar to the company's high-achievers or "superstars."  It is progressive:  If an applicant rates high on the first prediction step, then the applicant is allowed to try the second prediction method, and so on.  If an applicant earns only an average or worse rating on any prediction method, then that is the end of considering the applicant.  (After all, who wants to hire an average or worse job applicant?)The following are my seven pre-hire prediction methods I recommend all companies use -- including Google -- along with comments on how well Google currently does it.

First, is Brief Initial Screening Interview -- focused on whether applicant has biographical data similar to its superstar employees.  Google falls short here, because it needs to identify the bio-data of successful employees in each job which WSJ did not say Google does.

Second, are customized Pre-Employment Tests -- so a company can prefer job applicants who get test scores similar to its superstar employees' test scores.  Unfortunately, Google does not do pre-employment tests.  In fact, Google asks job applicants to identify their personality traits and past standardized test scores!  That makes no sense.  Reason:  Any applicant with the IQ above tire pressure (e.g., Google applicants) can figure out if they should say they are, for instance, teamwork-oriented or creative or good at math or other job talents.

Third, should be the In-Depth Interview -- delving into the 6 - 9 most important job talents.  While Google does an average of 5.1 interviews for hired applicants, there is no indication interviewers have a neatly laid-out list like I would create of (a) 6 - 9 most important job talents, (b) specific questions to ask to assess each job talent, and (c) specific applicant actions to observe during interview.  Who knows what each interviewer asks?  Also, WSJ did not say interviewers were trained in how to conduct a customized, In-Depth Interview.

Fourth is a Work Simulation or Role-Play -- forcing applicant to demonstrate key job skills.  Here, Google seems to shine -- partly.  It gives applicants "homework."  But, the work simulation should be done in the Google office.  Otherwise, applicants can take it home, get friends to help, or even have someone else do the "homework" or work simulation for them!  Also, after the Work Simulation the applicant should be asked to deliver a brief presentation, so Google can assess communications skills.

Fifth, Google definitely should conduct a Realistic Job Preview -- in which job applicant spends 4 - 10 hours watching an employee actually do the job the applicant is applying for.  Apparently, Google fails to do this.  Given its corporate culture and job demands, this is a huge gap in its hiring method -- and one I strongly recommend Google start doing.

Sixth are Reference Checks -- getting applicant's ex-bosses to "spill the beans" about the person's good and bad work qualities.  I devised a way to "weasel" truthful reference checks from ex-bosses who may feel unwilling to open up.  But, WSJ's article did not report on Google doing ultra-revealing Reference Checks.

Finally, Google does great at having 1 Executive Approving/Disapproving Each Hiring Recommendation.  The purpose of this is to assure the applicant received positive ratings on all of the first six steps of my "7-Step Method to Hire the Best(tm)."  Here, Google excels -- because one of its co-founders, Larry Page or Sergio Brin, reviews hiring recommendations.  Wisely, they sometimes do not allow managers to hire certain job applicants.

For Google to grow from big to bigger, it needs a customized, structured hiring method.  Google aims to shorten its hiring process.  But, unless Google researches and creates an organized method, such as the "7-Step Method to Hire the Best(tm)," it could save a few dollars -- but waste millions on bad hiring decisions.

To learn more about the "7-Step Method to Hire The Best(TM), please linkclick on this link


Copyright 2006 Michael Mercer, Ph.D.


1.  Use an organized method, e.g., the “7-Step Method to Hire the Best™.”

2.  Customize your organized hiring method.  For instance, customize each of the 7 steps or prediction methods.

Customize (1) Brief Initial Screening Interview focused on bio-data, (2) Pre-Employment Tests – customized for each job, (3) In-Depth Interviews – assessing 6 – 9 crucial job talents, (4) Work Simulation or Role-Play, (5) Realistic Job Preview, (6) Weasel Reference Checks from Applicant’s Ex-Bosses, and (7) 1 Executive Approves/Disapproves Each Hiring Decision/

3.  If you do not customize each of the 7-Step Method to Hire the Best™, then it is not worth your time or money.  Without customization it is almost impossible for you to hire the best.

Source:  Michael Mercer, Ph.D.,, phone = 847-382-0690