Hiring the Google Way

Google’s culture is not only about cool offices. It focuses on the employee experience right from the selection process.

When Google was a young start-up company, founders Larry Page and Sergei Brin did not follow the common hiring trend. They refused recruitment agencies and external manpower consultants and opted to do their selection in-house. They attribute their phenomenal growth to this very decision of doing as much as possible within the organization. They thought big even when they were not that big.

Their hiring system is the most unique I’ve heard of. The company went from a dozen employees to 40 in its first year and grew to 150 by the year 2000. Even at the early stages in the company’s growth, the founders were very picky and had high standards about who was to join. Page and Brin formed hiring committees to review every open position. This prevented mistakes others had made through the ‘hiring spiral scenario’ where the founder would hire a competent person, who in turn hires others, and those people hire more people and so on. The common mistake was that employees would hire others who wouldn’t challenge them due to the nature of general organizational politics. This left other Google contemporaries slave to dogmatic, hierarchical management games. (The Search: How Google and Its Rivals Rewrote the Rules of Business and Transformed Our Culture, 2006, John Battelle, Nicholas Brealey Publishing)

With Google’s hiring committees, it wasn’t only one employee’s opinion that counted. In the early days, every employee interviewed potential candidates and the group argued endlessly over who would fit the bill. As the company grew, hiring committees were expanded to form groups focusing on various specialty areas of the business. With a group of people responsible for selecting employees, individual bias was taken care of, top management did not have to get involved, and competence of the candidates was emphasized due to the group’s specialty area. (The Search: How Google and Its Rivals Rewrote the Rules of Business and Transformed Our Culture, 2006, John Battelle, Nicholas Brealey Publishing)

Most importantly, hiring the Google way has kept its unique graduate school-like culture intact blending employees’ academic freedom to implement strategy with getting real world education, and all the while maintaining team alignment. There is absolutely no substitute for doing things right within your organization itself, as opposed to relying on external recruitment consultants who can’t afford to give your needs the individual attention it requires.

Its all about in-house strategies and creating the innovation and time to implement them as part of your leadership practice.


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