Big data reveals: we're all terrible at hiring

Google ran the numbers. Plus, four tips for your next attempt.


Adam Bryant has a great Q&A with Google's Laszlo Bock in this morning's edition of the New York Times, and there is an amazing revelation in it: people are wildly inconsistent at hiring good people.

Bock tells Laszlo:

Years ago, we did a study to determine whether anyone at Google is particularly good at hiring. We looked at tens of thousands of interviews, and everyone who had done the interviews and what they scored the candidate, and how that person ultimately performed in their job. We found zero relationship. It’s a complete random mess, except for one guy who was highly predictive because he only interviewed people for a very specialized area, where he happened to be the world’s leading expert.

The weakest link in every technological chain: the human! (I'm sure you're surprised, technologist.)

The company also found other interesting things.

Four tips for your next hiring attempt:

  1. Don't pose a brain-teaser to the candidate. They only serve to make you feel good about yourself.
  2. Do pose a hypothetical—like asking about a time they solved a problem—to see how they dealt with a real-world challenge.
  3. Use a consistent rubric for how you assess people.
  4. Leadership is notoriously hard to quantify; task management is much easier. Keep that in mind when you're looking for your next leader.

What tips do you find effective for hiring?