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Hiring top candidates the Google way

Shona Brown, Google senior vice-president. (photo supplied)In Google VP: ‘It’s all about having the best people’, The Ottawa Business Journal reports on a speech given by Google SVP (and Carleton University graduate) Shona Brown at Carleton’s Spring Leadership Luncheon last Monday.  Her theme was recruiting the best people.

Most often, the recruitment process is managed by a team of people – because “teams make better decisions than individuals” – and must be approved by a senior executive, she explained.

Ms. Brown, who graduated from Carleton University with a degree in computer systems engineering and then pursued studies at Oxford University and Stanford University, said Google prefers to hire generalists with strong critical thinking skills. “People who ask why as opposed to what,” she said, adding passion is another key trait.

Good advice!  That’s the general philosophy I learned at Microsoft years ago, and which I’ve written about in the past on this blog.

So how do you hire that way as a start-up?  Here’s what we’ve done to staff the team building our web conferencing solutions at Calliflower:

  1. Job postings include problems.  Candidates need to submit solutions with their resumes.  A resume alone won’t do.  Amazingly, over 70% of candidates fail at this step.
  2. We look at the problem solution, before the resume.  Do we like this person’s work?  Can we see ourselves maintaining it in the future?
  3. Interviewing is done by a team.  Candidates meet with groups of people, or individually, but the final decision is by consensus, and each interviewer has a veto.
  4. Interviews are about how people perform under pressure, the quality and creativity of the individuals, and the inquisitiveness of the candidate.  They’re not about general knowledge. A smart, resourceful self starter can learn quickly.  The same is not necessarily true of a knowledgeable plodder.
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{ 1 comment… add one }

  • alex June 2, 2010, 7:16 am

    This speaks out of my heart. Also in the role of job seeker, I found already combinations 1&2 and 3&4 more effective; didn't experience 1-4 together though.
    I wish more employers would follow this approach!

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