Can International Organizations learn from Google’s recruitment process

I have studied many International Organizations, time-to-fill, the recruitment time from published job advertisement to the candidate’s acceptance of job offer takes in average 100 days. Google gets the world’s best talents, they conduct 4 interviews and receive the accepted job offer within 4 weeks from the first interview. Can International Organizations learn anything from Google?

I had the opportunity to meet and interview Martin Eriksson to learn more about how Google recruit talents and what International Organizations can learn from Google to improve the recruitment process. I learned that Google use data to save money without compromise assessment quality, I learned how Google ensure quality by only using trained interviewers and I learned that it is possible to conduct four interviews, present the case to two recruitment audit boards and still have the offer sent and accepted within four weeks.

Google is one of the world’s most popular companies when graduate students chose their dream employer. Impactpool reached out to Martin Eriksson, Staffing business manager for Northern Europe to learn how Google recruits and what could be used at International Organizations. Martin, now based in Stockholm has a long career at Google having worked for Google at their HQ in California as well in their European headquarters in Ireland, he believes that Google's ambitious recruitment process play a vital role in the company's popularity and strong Employer Brand.  ”The hiring bar is high and we strive to recruit talents that share our values and want to develop themselves.”

It is true to say that being selected by Google is a challenging task. Martin continues - We never recruit a candidate that doesn’t meet our requirements. In fact we rather leave a position unfilled than hiring anyone who are not in parity with our needsWe have even learned that, when jobs are vacant other Google colleagues step up and comes up with innovative solutions to get the work done.

How we know that four interviews is the optimal number of interviews?

For those candidates that submit a successful Google application will be invited for an interview. A successful candidate will go through four interviews conducted via Google Hangout (Google’s own Skype communication tool) by four different Google employee’s before an offer of employment will be given. All this happens normally within four weeks time. The way Google use and learn from recruitment metrics in their recruitment process is impressive, even the number of interviews to achieve optimal assessment results are measured and defined.

We conduct four structured interviews, as our HR metrics shows that the fifth interview is only increasing the validity of the assessment results with 1% and therefore we save money, time and resources by limiting the number of interviews  to four says Martin.

Each interview is independently conducted and if a candidate don’t pass one interview she/he will not be allowed to continue to the next interview. To be selected by Google each of the interviewer must be in agreement. If any of the interviewers say no, it will be a no says Martin.

In many International Organizations panelist are allowed to assess talents without proper interview training. At Google all interviewers are comprehensively trained, which helps to guarantee a higher quality of the assessment results. The recruitment is not just a task on the recruiting manager's desk, it is a task for several colleagues in different parts of the company. The online interviews via Google Hangouts are sufficient to take hiring decisions and there is no need for a meeting in person.

Each interview has its own focus, and the focus are the same four dimensions that Google has had from its very beginning:

What I love with the Google’s recruitment process is that we adopted a measurable recruitment process at an early stage in Google’s life, we are still assessing the same four dimensions says Martin.

Given that we have embraced the same four dimensions for so long, at Google we know what a good answer sounds like, and with highly trained interviewers we are able to recruit with very high quality and validity continues Martin to explain.

The four dimensions Google asses are:

  1. Cognitive ability

  2. Leadership skills

  3. Googliness

  4. Role related skills

When assessing the first dimension - cognitive ability - the interviewer asks questions rarely having a straight answer. According to Google’s performance metrics there is no correlation between strong School results and high performance at Google. In the cognitive ability assessment the focus is the talents reasoning and how she/he comes up with the answer.

In the past we could ask questions like how many piano tuners work in New York? Today the questions are more related to our business, it could be ‘what is the value of the online ads market in country X? But still it is the reasoning and not the answer that is the interesting part to assess says Martin.

The second dimension -  leadership skills is assessing the talents ability to get others onboard on own ideas.  Leadership is important even for talents not applying directly to a managerial role. It is key to be able to manage a project, but further down the career the candidate may be exposed to leadership roles, says Martin.  

What Google defines as strong leadership is based on a famous internal project - the Project Oxygen. This project was designed to identify what successful Google managers do. Click to read more about Project Oxygen and leadership at Google here

The third dimension - googliness, focus at qualities and values needed to fit into Google. One aspect is the ‘bias to action’ focusing at finding driven, curious and bold talents, talents not being afraid of failures. Google encourage their staff to take risks - failure is ok as long as it has led to new learning. ”Fail fast, fail often” is a say at Google. However you should avoid repeating the same failure twice.

The reason why Google highly value skills like; Drive, Curiosity and Boldness is that Google follows the principle of 10x. A principle that aims at getting 10 times better in each step forward.

The fourth dimension - The Role related skills are assessed  differently depending on the role the candidate applied for and assess technical skills.

Before a final offer can be sent, the recruitment must also be approved by an European Recruitment Audit committee and then also approved by the headquarters in California.

Read more here  about Google’s recruitment process.