Google Admits Its Interview Brainteasers Are a “Waste of Time”
12:30 pm, June 20th | by Grace Rasmus
If you’re stressed out on your way to a job interview, put yourself at ease by reminding yourself that you’re not headed to Google headquarters. (Unless you are, in which case I have no words of consolation for you.) Google has been infamous for giving potential employees on-the-spot brainteasers during interviews — and these brainteasers aren’t those cutesy riddles where the answer is usually “it was made of ice!” We’re talking about some of the most mind-numbingly complex questions ever:
- Why are manhole covers round? [Answer]
- Design an evacuation plan for San Francisco. [Answer]
- In a country that wants only boys, every family continues to have children until they get a boy. If they have a girl, they have another child. If they have a boy, they stop. What is the proportion of boys to girls in the country? [Answer]
- You are shrunk to the size of a nickel and your mass is proportionately reduced as to maintain your original density. You are thrown into an empty glass blender. The blades will start moving in 60 seconds. What do you do? [Answer]
Yeah, you can stop fretting about your answer to the strengths-and-weaknesses question now.
But maybe all Google applicants can now rest easy; in a New York Times interview Lenzo Block, Google’s Senior VP of People Operations (PEOPLE OPERATIONS), revealed that the company is restructuring its hiring process.
“On the hiring side, we found that brainteasers are a complete waste of time,” he said. “They don’t predict anything. They serve primarily to make the interviewer feel smart.”
I was cringing just imagining myself in a Google interview. They’d ask me how much I would charge to wash all the windows in Seattle and I’d awkwardly balk for a few seconds before nervously asking for a pen and paper to do some irrelevant math. “Could you give me my resume back so I can use it as scratch paper? I’m sure you won’t be needing it after all,” I’d stutter. And there the interviewer would be sitting, pleased as punch, feeling very smart indeed, seeing as the answer is supposed to be something simple like “$10 per window.”
Block says Google now relies on more standardized interviews with rubrics so that candidates can be assessed consistently. Evidently Google also practices “behavioral interviewing” in which interviewers ask candidates to describe a time they solved a difficult problem.
Also Google’s hiring team will be giving less weight to college grade point averages and SAT scores (yes, they used to actually care about this, even for people in their 30s, 40s, 50s, etc.), according to Block:
One of the things we’ve seen from all our data crunching is that G.P.A.’s are worthless as a criteria for hiring, and test scores are worthless — no correlation at all except for brand-new college grads, where there’s a slight correlation. Google famously used to ask everyone for a transcript and G.P.A.’s and test scores, but we don’t anymore, unless you’re just a few years out of school. We found that they don’t predict anything.
To read the full New York Times interview with Block, click here.