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Google: Getting In The 0.2%

Simon Barton looks at the difficulties of getting a job at Google

10Jul

One of the perks of being Google is that there’s never a shortage of talented people who are ready to pack in their current jobs to join the ranks.

With its modern offices and surreal workspaces, it’s a truly unique place to work. Yet getting a position there is a real challenge. It’s now officially easier to get a place at Harvard than it is to get a job at Google. The search-giant gets around three-million applications per year, and out of that pool, a mere seven-thousand get their foot in the door - an acceptance rate of 0.2%.

In a previous article we looked at Amazon’s recruitment process. Arduous as that is, Google’s makes it look like a stroll in the park. Amazon has its ‘bar raisers’, but to even get an interview at Google you’ll need to get through four separate people; the Recruiter, the Sourcer, the Coordinator and the Candidate Host.

Whilst this process is arguably necessary with the sheer volume of applications received, its almost bureaucratic nature has led some to suggest that it’s designed to slip people up, not get the best out of them. Making a good impression in one interview is hard enough, let alone four. If, however, you get past the preliminary stage, additional interviews will be held with a hiring committee, your potential boss and colleagues and if it warrants it, even Google’s CEO, Larry Page.

This is, however, the dumbed-down version. Before, recruiters would ask candidates brainteasers, which according to Business Insider, were ‘outright ridiculous’. You can find a list of them here. Thankfully, some of these questions have been banned, taking at least some of the pressure off candidates.

The process sets an incredibly high bar for success, which is exactly what Laszio Bock, the SVP of People Operations at Google wants. He states that, ‘a good rule of thumb is to hire only people who are better than you’, which judging by the process explained in this article, is a pretty difficult thing to do.

The jury’s out as to whether Google has it right. The company’s clearly doing well at the moment, with its fourth quarter profits up by 30% from the same time last year. But making candidates jump through so many hoops can mean hiring people who are good interviewers, not necessarily good employees.

But in this case most good employees may well be good interviewers. Google demands strong interpersonal skills, and if the pressure that comes with the process is too much for a candidate to deal with, they’re probably not right for the company. You can get lucky in one interview, you can’t do it in four.

Whatever the case, Google is not going to stop getting millions of applications. They didn’t when some of their questions included; ‘How many piano tuners are there in the entire world?’, so why would they now?

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