Jan 4, 2007

Google algorithm to find people

It seems like Google is bent on doing things its own way, even to find employees.

It is starting to ask job applicants to fill out an elaborate online survey that explores their attitudes, behavior, personality and biographical details going back to high school. The questions range from the age when applicants first got excited about computers to whether they have ever tutored or ever established a nonprofit organization. The answers are fed into a series of formulas created by Google's mathematicians that calculate a score from zero to 100 meant to predict how well a person will fit into its chaotic and competitive culture.

While it is great to see that Google is moving away from its focus on pure academic brilliance to something more, I have my reservations about using an online questionnaire like this for some reasons:

  • It would need to be reinvented for every culture that Google operates in. Consider using the above questions quoted in a Indian setting. Indian students almost never work for a non-profit outside of Mumbai, Bangalore and Delhi.
  • Would job-seekers be worried about their privacy?
  • Google's rigorous interviewing process, while time-consuming (7-12 rounds of interviews) enables the jobseeker to meet people and form his/her own opinion of the firm.I guess it also goes a long way to forge people bonds after a person is brought into the firm. Real people are required to fill in an evaluation like "would defend this candidate till the very end" to the other end of the spectrum. Turning to an antiseptic online survey would lose that huge personal richness of the process.
By the way, check this blog post on how Google started hiring MBAs.