There was quite a bit of hoopla a few weeks ago when Google announced that they were no longer going to ask wacky questions in their interviews or use GPA as part of their hiring practices for most jobs. This interview with their head HR executive provides a bit more detail about their thinking.
My reaction to this was, “No kidding.” The research data on the effectiveness of using behavioral interviews is plentiful and I don’t know why they just didn’t use Google Scholar to look it up. For a company built on knowledge, it makes not sense to me why they don’t use well established research to guide their HR practices. Even if they thought their culture was special and previous studies did not apply, I’m surprised that it took them this long to figure it out given how many people they have hired (the same can be said for looking at GPA or their brain teasers).
This is not so much about Google as it is about applying established knowledge in organizations. Every company thinks that there is something special about how they do business. And they are probably right. Where they miss the mark is when they think there is something unique about their culture that suggests that established hiring practices will not work for them. Guess what? The (imprecise, but effective) science of predicting job performance has been built over time and across a myriad of organizations. Tools should be refined, but wheels do not need to be reinvented. This means that the most effective techniques/tools, such as cognitive ability tests, job simulations, behavioral interviews, and valid personality tests are going to be more effective than unstructured interviews, education, GPA, and previous experience for every job. How you apply them should be based on a job analysis.
Innovation and creativity is critical in selection and HR. We always want to be in tune with our clients’ needs and changing technology. However, these things do not make valid practices obsolete. Rather, it makes them important building blocks.
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