There is a new book out provocatively called Are you Smart Enough to Work at Google? (William Poundstone). At a recent party, the book caused a small riot as 25-30 year-olds pushed and shoved to find out the questions and the RIGHT answers to the questions that recruiters at Google ask interviewees prior to hiring.
The Book promises to provide you with the “trick questions” and insight into their “devious interviewing techniques” to help you get a job at Google.
Why would you want to take a job at a company that would try to trick you up and use devious techniques to make you feel uncomfortable from DAY ONE?
There little doubt to those of us who have hired large numbers of people that our current hiring methods are flawed. But I have grave doubts that I would want to work for any company that is trying to “catch me” in my work on a problem (as though there were ONLY one right way to work on an insanely weird problem) during a high-pressure interview.
I do applaud that there are finally companies that ask questions that deal with something other than “tell me about yourself” in their interviews. (Now, that is a dead question.)
During my Ph.D. orals, I was asked (somewhat out of the blue, as I was going for a Ph.D. in Communication), why did human beings have two eyes? After forming a thin sheet of sweat covering my body, I realized the common sense answer to the question. (Go ahead; use Google to get the answer….) More importantly, my committee of reckoning then asked HOW I thought about solving the problem to get to the issue. This reminded me of my favorite quote (this may be a mythic quote as I could not confirm its veracity!): When asked what he would do if asked to solve a problem within 60 minutes, my “main man” said that he would spend the first 59 minutes deciding what problem REALLY was…. and the last minute solving the problem. (Einstein)
In hiring, the problem is that we need a new breed of questions to get at the new breed of thinking we use to solve problems. First, we need to devote ourselves to figuring out what problems we are asking our employees to solve. That answer is just that: an answer out of an infinite number of solutions. It will take less than a minute to figure out that it is the caliber of judgment, of problem solving, of curiosity, creativity, and persistence that will lead to a successful employee.
If Google is really so smart, why don’t they use business intelligence to identify the new breed of interview question?