Google applies analytics to HR

Over the last 100 years or so, organisational psychology has developed a number of methods and tests to assess personality and competency. Yet despite lots of scientific evidence that proves these tests are dramatically more effective than interviews as a selection technique, most managers dismiss psychometric testing as hocus-pocus.  Yahoo’s position is sadly, all too common.

Yahoo does not use tests, puzzles or tricks, etc., when interviewing candidates,” Jessie Wixon, a spokeswoman for Yahoo, said.

Perhaps Jessie should have a chat with my friend Adrian Furnham,  one of the worlds’s leading psychologists and author of masses of books, including this one. 

It is great to read that Google are apply testing to their recruitment processes. Mr Bock from Google is spot on. Interviews and academic scores suck as predictors for employee success. 

I picked this up from James and Jon Battelle’s search blog.

Deriving Talent, Algorithmically

How will Google scale its massive hiring ramp-up while maintaining its famously intricate screening process for ‘Googley’ employees? With an algorithm of course.

After months of interviewing their employees to decipher trends in personality and interests that mark Googlers, Google has ‘derived’ a complex hiring questionnaire. Google will begin using the surveys with all applicants this month.

I hope Google based this algorithm on valid, fair, reliable, psychological research, that deals with issues of culture and gender bias in testing, and that the results are treated with the privacy they deserve. If they have, you can forget about gaming it.  (if you are interested to see similar tests check out SHL) Judging from the NYT article it looks as if they have involved some psychological rigour to it, but if anyone has anymore info please drop me a comment or an email. 

So, my HR readers, if you have pushback from line managers who think testing is nonsense, then quote them the Google example.

Also, Google, you might have a brilliant HR product here, I’m just not sure that I want my Neo  Disc,  Myers Briggs and  16pf scores  in your cloud.

I wonder how the cosy world of HR testing products would cope with Google muscling in?



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19 thoughts on “Google applies analytics to HR”

  1. They should talk to Peter Saville (one of the co-founders of SHL) or more practically Chris Small in their UK operations and in the States Gary Schmidt

    I confess to working with Peter nearly 2o years ago and he is the one of the two pre-eminent business psychologists in the past thirty years. The other is Neil Rackham who set up Huthwaite and specialised in sales training, developing SPIN.

    I was privileged whilst at Xerox to work with Neil’s research consultant Roger Sugden when we worked on introduction of SHL tests.

    The current Savillewave is astounding in the insights provided, the focus on motivation and talent allows far better predictive and personal value in the internet age than the OPQ of SHL. It’s also easy to identify if someone has gamed the system!

    If you want to explore (including taking the Savilewave) or understand more about the rationale for my perspective then let me know.

    Richard Cross

  2. Richard,
    Thanks for commenting.

    Glad to see Peter is still hard at work. Please pass on my regards to him. I tried to interest him in my start up in 2000, long story.

    The Google example is good publicity for testing, but I hope they have based it on something vaguely valid etc…

  3. Given the number of employees at Google plus their aggregation of ‘everything’ it would be surprising if they’d failed to take even the most rudimentary of precuations before designing testing templates.

    In any event, they’d need to refine the model over time becasue as we know requirements change subtly yet in important ways.

    That leads to another thought…I’ll blog it.

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