Set a high bar and never compromise

Laszlo Bock, Google’s SVP People Operations, shares three secrets for how Google recruits.

He does this at the end of a presentation he gave at a Linked-In conference for recruiters.

Action starts at 2m:40s.

Laszlo doesn’t mention it, but these are exactly the same (with a bit more science these days) “secrets” that McKinsey and many other great companies use.

Maintaining the high standards is very hard – they tend to drop over time as companies get bigger. What Google do is to keep every hiring decision (but not the interviewing work)  with a small group of very high standard setters – much like Steve Jobs set the insanely high benchmark for every Apple product. Even today Larry Page reviews every hire.

They use structured interviews, a combination of behavioural (Tell us about a time…) and situational (Case studies), and they test for general cognitive ability, leadership, Googleyness and role-related knowledge. They de-prioritise the last, liking people with more diverse role experiences, as role-related knowledge can be learned while those other experiences can bring different ways of approaching problems.

The most important issue from the video is not ever compromising on standards. This is particularly important for the first few people hired at growing companies, but it can never change as companies grow. Your new co-workers will dictate how well you perform in the future, and how fun it’s going to be. So take your time, make sure there is a alignment of values and fire fast if things don’t work out. Companies like Xero, Vend, Timely and Define Instruments* are incredibly selective and difficult to get recruited into (and they are  hiring). That’s by design, and that’s why they can stay ahead.

(I’m a direct or indirect investor in all of these)

About Lance Wiggs

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