Google is famous for the intensity and rigour of its recruitment process. It's not easy to get a job there, and those who have done so are rightly proud of their Google-hood.
With Google's reputation for the use of data, you would expect there to be science behind how this process works. Well, there is.
Google has acknowledged that its fiendishly difficult interview questions are no predictor of the success of the candidate. Laszlo Bock, the senior vice-president of people operations at Google, said in an interview in The New York Times that "we did a study to determine whether anyone at Google is particularly good at hiring. We looked at tens of thousands of interviews, and everyone who had done the interviews and what they scored the candidate, and how that person ultimately performed in their job. We found zero relationship."
Not very encouraging, is it? Is it true that a job interview merely determines how good a candidate is at job interviews? In which case, you might as well have some fun with the questions.
How lucky are you and why?
What is your least favourite thing about humanity?
How does the internet work?
If you were a box of cereal, which one would you be?
These are all job interview questions, listed in Fast Company as part of Glassdoor's "oddball" job interview questions.
Asking unusual questions can help you assess a candidate, as the predictable questions are too easily scripted – the classic example being the stock answer to "What's your greatest fault?" Standard answer is either "My hatred of getting anything wrong" or "I work too hard". Both answers might get you points for claimed diligence. But neither gets you many points for creativity or inventiveness.
It's not a technique for hiring an unknown candidate, but the best technique I've heard about for determining which candidate to promote and how soon rely on no questions at all. I'm told that one of the large multinational City companies determines a manager's promotion by what happens when they're away on holiday. If the team copes without them without constantly being in touch, then that person gets promoted.
The best interviewer I know maintains that silence is the best tactic in interviews. Ask anything, then shut up. It's not what the candidate says first that's revealing. It's what they say when you don't speak.
If I were a box of cereal, I'd be oats – authentic, unadulterated and keep going till lunch.
Sue Unerman is the chief strategy officer at MediaCom
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