Are Google’s Hiring Standards for Talent Messed Up?

Kris Dunn Candidate Pool, Interviewing, Kris Dunn, Recruiting, Sourcing

Is Google better than your company with Talent?  I may have to turn comments off on this one – such an obvious question for most people, that I expect the caveman, ALL CAPS responses like "H#@! YEAH!!"…

If there is one thing that is publicized about hiring at Google, it’s the fact that the standards are high.Google_2  So high and focused on educational level, if you believe many accounts, that non-Phd’s need not apply.   

Still, it’s hard to argue with the approach, and the success.  Then I remember that Yahoo was once the golden child… Hmm…

To attempt to find a counterpoint on the Google approach to talent, I turn to Former Netscape wonderboy Marc Andreessen, who last year issued caution in viewing Google’s talent approach as too special (Note, he’s talking about the talent approaches of both Microsoft and Google):

"Most of the lore in our industry about the role of intelligence in company success comes from two stratospherically successful companies — Microsoft, and now Google — that are famous for hiring for intelligence.

Microsoft’s metric for intelligence was the ability to solve logic puzzles.For example, a classic Microsoft interview question was: "Why is a manhole cover round?"

Google, on the other hand, uses the metric of educational achievement.  Have a PhD? Front of the line. Masters? Next. Bachelor’s? Go to the end.

In apparent direct contraction to decades of experience in the computer industry that PhD’s are the hardest people to motivate to ship commercially viable products — with rare exception.

Now, on the one hand, you can’t question the level of success of either company.  Maybe they’re right.

But maybe, just maybe, their success had a lot to do with other factors — say, huge markets, extreme aggressiveness, right time/right place, key distribution deals, and at least in one case, great products.

So maybe there are other hiring criteria that are equally, or more, important.

Here’s what I think those criteria are – Drive, Curiosity and Ethics."

Click through and read the rest of the post.  The gist of Marc’s thoughts?  He’s a behavioral interviewer, and he’ll seek fit for the position, in these three areas, in a behavioral fashion, before he’ll worry about educational level or abstract questions.  Last snippet from MA and then I’m out:

"For the background part, I like to see what someone has done.  Not been involved in, or been part of, or watched happen, or was hanging around when it happened.  I look for something you’ve done, either in a job or (often better yet) outside of a job.

The business you started and ran in high school. The nonprofit you started and ran in college. If you’re a programmer: the open source project to which you’ve made major contributions. Something."

Fascinating stuff about what’s most important.  Maybe I can hire the dude from the community college as long as he’s driven.