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Recently social media was flooded with news of a 7 year old girl who applied for Google through a cute letter to Google’s CEO. Interestingly, her letter received a reply from Sundar Pichai. Wouldn’t it be interesting if 12-15 years down the line from today, the girl cracks the most difficult recruitment procedure and becomes a part of Google Inc.

You don’t become the happiest company by mistake. It’s a product of thoughtful design and ultimately culture. Now here’s the glaring truth: it’s almost ten times harder to get a job at Google than it is to get into Harvard or Yale. Of course, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try. With over two million applicants a year, it seems like everyone wants to work for the search giant.

Google is notorious for being one of the most selective companies out there. Although many have heard about Google’s unbelievably difficult brain-teasers, the company actually has a bunch of practices that make its hiring process so selective. The company keeps its hiring protocol consistent and streamlined, so each Googler knows exactly what to look for in candidates. In order of priority, those include general cognitive ability, leadership, “Googleyness,” and knowledge of the role.

Flashback: What Was Wrong with Google’s Hiring Process?

If we talk about Google’s hiring scenario 5-10 years back, it was not that fascinating. The risk factor was high with constant organizational growth. Every applicant had to go through 15-25 rounds of interview and selection took around 6 to 9 months. Techniques such as brain teasers made the traditional interview process an awful candidate experience. The company also had to get rid of most of its riddle-like questions such as, “How many golf balls fit in a school bus?” They have been replaced with questions more closely related to the job.

Sneak Peek Into World’s Best Recruiting Process

Let’s admit it. Recruitment can become a rather boring subject to talk about. But at Google, talent acquisition, and hiring are two most strategic and engaging processes that one could ever create. Currently, Google Inc. receives over 3 million applications/year and hires only 700 people annually; meaning 1 out of every 428 applicants is recruited by the firm, making it 20% more selective than Harvard, Stanford or Yale.

Today, everyone at Google is focused on recruiting. Google intends to create stronger employer brand and in the process went to create 3 unbeatable hiring steps.

1st Step:

Set An Uncompromisable High Standard

Be it any company, recruiters hire candidates a notch greater in quality than the existing workforce and still end up creating a mediocre talent pool. But, at Google, there is a high bar for quality, and none of the recruiters are allowed to compromise on it. Also, hiring managers at Google do not have decision-making powers. Instead, the organization designates this responsibility to a hiring committee, which has no relation to the recruiting process. Rather than relying just on seasoned, full-cycle recruiters (though it does have those), Google breaks down the process into different functions — sourcing, coordinating, college-only, etc. They access the candidates individually, points out pros and cons, then vote for selection. The motto of developing such a process is to create a non-biased recruitment system and hire ‘best of the best’.

2nd Step:

Access Candidates Objectively

The company has used third-party job boards like Monster in the past but pulled back from them after its reputation grew sufficiently, mostly because it found that too many of those sites’ users send out generic mass job applications. Today, Google relies on its own careers portal and the referrals it solicits from Googlers. Managers also make use of LinkedIn, Google+, alumni databases, and professional associations to discover talent. Accessing resumes are hard as one needs to go through stacks of paper and find the most accurate one.

Here are the ‘four criteria’ that Google accesses during an interview.

  1. General Cognitive Ability –The problem-solving skills of a candidate
  2. Leadership – ‘Emergent Leadership’ which means people at the firm are willing to relinquish their power and allow someone else to lead when s/he is a better leader for given situation
  3. Googleyness –People who are comfortable with ambiguity, intellectual humility and can bring something new & different to the table every single time
  4. Role-Related Knowledge– Accessing the skills and knowledge required to do the task candidate is being hired for

3rd Step:

Give Candidates a Reason to Join

Google makes it clear why the work you are doing matters and lets the candidate experience the astounding people they will get to work with. It allows candidates to witness relatable life changing aspects of the job. The job needs to be a calling, a source of enjoyment, providing a sense of fulfilment to the employee. People who see their job as a calling, outperform themselves and create a highly engaged workforce worldwide. Enabling employees to witness the life changing decision of a job also has the positive impact on organizational productivity and engagement.

Other minor strategies Google follows to recruit a good workforce are:

  • Sometimes Google purposely sets up the candidate’s presentation in a room where the equipment doesn’t work. If the candidate doesn’t mind adjusting, then it’s a sign that he’d be easy to work with. Extra points are given to candidates who have a Plan B, Plan C, and Plan D, which comes in very handy in the tech world.
  • As a part of the strategy, during the interview, the interviewers make a ton of incorrect assumptions to annoy the candidate. If the candidate’s last job was at Facebook, they say, “How long were you at Yahoo?” The interviewer then takes note of the candidate’s tone when he corrects the statement. That says a lot about whether the prospective employee can stay cool during pressing times.

This is how tech companies find out what a candidate would be like to work with. These strategies are a great way to weed out people who obviously didn’t really want the job in the first place.

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