Thursday, April 14, 2016

Has Google Cracked the Hiring Code?

The talent marketplace is more competitive than ever before, and it’s likely to become more so as the skills gap widens. Many companies struggle mightily to find qualified candidates for open positions, often compromising on mission-critical job requirements or letting jobs go unfilled for months at a time.

In such a cutthroat environment, how can companies — particularly smaller firms without big, well-oiled human resources machines or set-in-stone hiring practices — make sure that they’re hiring the right people for the right jobs at the right times?

According to Business Insider, Google may have cracked the hiring code. At the very least, they’re well on their way to reducing the hiring process to a cold, hard science and minimizing the risks associated with bad hiring decisions.

Most companies don’t have Google’s immense resources or reputational cachet, of course. But even small businesses can take a page or two from the tech giant’s — and its peers’, many of which now emulate Google’s approach to HR — playbook. Here’s a look at how Google makes exceptional hires, and how you can do the same at your company.

Use an Objective Process & Evaluation System

It’s all too easy to let subjectivity infect the hiring process. To guard against human biases, use a multi-tiered system that sequesters the people in charge of making actual hiring decisions from the folks who handle recruiting, interviewing and early-stage vetting.

Google’s hiring process, which takes up to 10 weeks, is instructive. The company taps the position’s direct report, an HR point person, and a representative cross-section of the position’s colleagues and peers to review applications and conduct initial interviews. They all take forensic notes that become part of the candidate’s file (and, if hired, their employee file). Google then instructs a separate hiring committee to review each finalist and make a decision based solely on merit. Subsequently, each hired employee is reviewed against the exhaustive notes that his or her interviewers took during the onboarding process.

Don’t Compromise Your Standards

No matter how long the hiring process drags on or how elusive prime candidates seem, Google never compromises its stated standards. If a posted position requires five years in a lead developer role, Google simply won’t hire someone with three years’ experience — no matter how impressive their CV appears otherwise. Maintaining uncompromising standards is tough in a competitive talent marketplace, but it’s a huge part of the secret sauce that makes Google so successful. And, if you’ve got the discipline, it could be an important ingredient in your secret sauce too.

Don’t Outsource Unless You Really Need To

Along with many fellow tech firms, Google handles a surprising amount of headhunting internally, even for super-specialized positions. It certainly doesn’t hurt that Google is a household name whose open positions attract the best and brightest, but there’s no reason smaller, less recognizable companies can’t follow its lead into the world of DIY recruiting. The trick: building networks around specialized or high-performing employees as they’re hired, creating at-the-ready talent pools that can be tapped at will.

Hire for Competence, Not Teachability

It’s great to have employees who can adjust to new facts and paradigms. You certainly don’t want an army of inflexible compu-bots running the show at your growing company.

At the same time, you’re not in the business of babysitting bright-eyed, bushy-tailed newbies, either. If you wanted to run a classroom, you’d go into teaching. There’s no shame in making it clear to candidates that you’re looking for people who can hit the ground running on day one. If you communicate competence as your top hiring priority, your candidate pool will self-select accordingly.

Remember That the Interview Is a Two-Way Street

Even Google has to sell itself to prospective employees. According to Business Insider, a senior Google manager keeps a stack of impressive current employee resumes in his desk. If a candidate expresses ambivalence about joining the Google team, he hands them to the candidate as proof that they’ll be working with the best and brightest. The result? “It works every time,” he says.

Do you incorporate any of these strategies into your company’s hiring process?