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The Google Example: How Bad Hiring Practices Can Slow Down a Company

Rob Enderle/IT Business Edge

February 26, 2010

One of the annoying things I get to do is watch successful companies that should know better design in failure. I could argue that many of the problems Microsoft has faced this decade go back to bad hiring and internal job placement decisions it made last decade. I’m picking on Google today because I ran into an article written by a recent Google applicant who walks the reader through an interview process that appears to be designed to exclude the most qualified applicants for a marketing job. This likely explains why the company has lots of offerings but seem unable to sell most of them very effectively.

The recent Android campaign, which was surprisingly good, was driven by Verizon, not Google. Sometimes I find Google’s mistakes funny, but there is nothing funny about mistreating applicants or employees. Unfortunately, Google is hardly alone and since I spent much of my life trying to prevent or fix this kind of problem, I think it is well past time to get on a soapbox.

Interviews: Flawed by Design

Interviewing is a skill that requires training and lots of practice. Even with that training and adequate practice, though, interviewing is highly subjective and really only tests how well an applicant does under certain artificial circumstances. Against a background check and with an applicant untrained in interviewing, it can determine honesty, ability to respond under pressure and some social skills. Interviews can also help determine if people will get along well with their working team, but team members who are themselves concerned about turf or job security, or who are intimidated about a competent applicant, may blackball that applicant for the wrong reasons.

There are a lot of reasons why interviews are generally unreliable. You can find other examples of bad Google interview processes showcasing some of what I’m talking about, some showcasing a level of stupidity even I’ve never seen. It is hard for me not to get angry because I see this as avoidable abuse. Against an applicant trained in interviewing, the process is virtually worthless. I’ve regularly watched people hired into senior positions on false credentials based largely on aced interviews. Ninety percent of the hiring process should be based on a validated skill match and deep background check.

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