Jobs At Google And Other Tech Firms

Google Ditches The Dreaded Brainteaser

Written by Imran Yusuf | Jobs At Google And Other Tech Firms | Friday 21st June 2013 15:18:00 GMT

Google senior vice president admits that using brainteasers in interviews was a "waste of time."

Walking to a Google job interview is now fraught with less anxiety! (Photo: Evan Blaser)

Walking to a Google job interview is now fraught with less anxiety! (Photo: Evan Blaser)

“A man pushed his car to a hotel and lost his fortune. What happened?”
 
This is one of many infamous brainteasers asked at Google interviews over the years.
 
If you desperately want to work at Google, but don’t have a clue how to answer the riddle above, fear not. In an interview with the New York Times, Google’s Laszlo Bock, senior vice president for people operations, has admitted that brainteasers are largely useless in assessing candidates. 
 
Bock added that behavioural interviewing worked, but that GPA scores, except for very recent college grads, were not predictive of future success or failure at Google. And the brainteaser method has been dismissed completely: “How many golf balls can you fit into an airplane? How many gas stations in Manhattan? A complete waste of time. They don’t predict anything. They serve primarily to make the interviewer feel smart.”
 
We have some further tips from Google on applying to the company. Our sister site BusinessBecause held a Google event earlier this year in London. Jane Murphy, Google's EMEA Campus Manager, was quick to dispel some of the misconceptions and exaggerations which often do the rounds about the company. (BusinessBecause also held this Google event last year.)
 
We all have an idea in our mind of what a typical Google employee looks like. Think again, Jane urged, for the company’s staff in fact reflects the company’s user base. In other words, people who work at Google look just like us. If they were all one type of person, they’d only be able to work one type of way.
 
Jane stressed the value of transferable skills picked up in the workplace, and cited a civil engineer who had recently been hired by Google – not because she could build bridges, but because she was an excellent project manager.
 
Indeed, in his NYT interview Bock also stressed the importance of leadership. Google wants “consistent and fair” decision makers, he said. Contrary to the idea you have to be thinking outside the box 24 hours a day, Google prefers some elements of predictability. “If a leader is consistent, people on their teams experience tremendous freedom because then they know that within certain parameters, they can do whatever they want,” Bock added.
 
In her talk, Jane said every CV was read by a human being (there are rumours one can get through the first computerised scanning process by using particular key words – it’s all nonsense). And for those who like to wax lyrical even about their achievements in the rowing club at school, just don’t: Google likes CVs to be a maximum of two pages, though Jane said the ideal is one page. Also, it’s better to use the traditional chronological format for CVs, rather than competency-structured layouts.
 
And, obviously, no spellling errors.
 
(Did you catch the spelling mistake above? Good. You're ready to send in your CV!)
 
Above all, Jane emphasised that if you want to work at Google, you need a passion for the online industry and for the specific job you've applied for. It isn’t just enough to "want to work for Google."
 
Finaly, nobody gets hired without applying. Although there are 34,000 global employees at Google - and a whopping 3 million job applications per year - it’s worth it if you have the drive and passion. You never know.
 
(And if you don't succeed, you can always go home and start playing Monopoly - which, by the way, is the answer to the brainteaser posed in the first sentence. Doh!)

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