Mar 31, 2016

Here are the Top Tech Companies’ Secrets to Hiring the Best People by Sarah Cooper

Google, Facebook, Apple, Amazon, Google, Amazon. These top tech companies each receive over a quadrillion resumes per year (source needed). So it’s safe to say they have a good process for choosing the best job candidates. But what is it?
No, it’s not that list of popular Google interview questions you Googled on Google. In fact, their finely tuned hiring process goes way beyond rudimentary queries on algorithms and quantum physics.
If you, too, want to hire the world’s best top tech talent, try one of these secret hiring strategies.

1. Begin phone screens 15 minutes early, 15 minutes late, or not at all

WHY? To find people who are always ready for the job

Anyone can answer a series of probing questions when you call them at the expected time. But what happens if you call them when they’re still sleeping, in Zumba class, or on the toilet? This is how the top tech companies find people who are ready for the job at any moment.

2. Make the interview schedule as confusing and unpredictable as possible

WHY? To find people who don’t need instructions

Make sure that neither the interviewers or interviewees have any idea what’s going to happen during the interview. This is a great indicator of who will perform best when no one has any clue what’s going on.

3. Make sure something goes wrong during the presentation

WHY? To see how the candidate adjusts to less-than-ideal circumstances

Purposely set up the candidate’s presentation in a room where the equipment doesn’t work, which is probably any room. If the candidate is able to roll with it and doesn’t mind adjusting, then that’s a good sign she’d be easy to work with. Bonus points are given for candidates who have a Plan B, Plan C and Plan D, which comes in very handy in the tech world.

4. During the interview, make a ton of incorrect assumptions

WHY? To weed out candidates who are easily annoyed

If the candidate’s last job was at Twitter, say, “How long were you at Yahoo!?” Take note of the candidate’s tone when he corrects you. Is he a jerk about it or does he stay cool? This is how tech companies find out what a candidate would be like to work with when the shit inevitably hits the fan.

5. Ask the candidate to solve your own, specific problems

WHY? Because you really need help with this problem

Tech companies often have candidates solve real problems they are currently facing. This is a good way to get some free help with those problems.

6. Have the interview frequently move between different rooms

WHY? To find people who are still excited, even when they’re uncomfortable

Never let your job applicants get comfortable during the interview. This is how you find people who are uncomfortably excited and also get around the fact that no conference rooms were available for the entire day.

7. Ask the same questions over and over and over again

WHY? To test consistency

In the tech world, predictability is a good thing. During the interview, don’t worry about asking the same question over and over again because you keep blanking out. This is a great tool for testing the candidate’s consistency. Candidates should only be wildly inconsistent with their answers when interviewing for senior roles.

8. Conduct dual interviews with a good cop / bad cop vibe

WHY? To find people who can multi-task under pressure

Put the candidate in the middle of a conference room with interviewers at both ends of the table. Is the candidate able to simultaneously direct her attention to both interviewers while sufficiently answering each question at the same time? Or is she clearly exhausted and wondering why she even agreed to this interview? This is a great indicator of how the candidate will perform during a crunch.

9. Ask a question, then start typing very loudly

WHY? To find people who remain focused despite distractions

Ask the candidate a question. Then, as soon as he starts to answer, start typing loudly. Apologize and say you’re “listening, just taking notes.” You could be taking notes, or you could be writing an email to your estranged father, doesn’t matter. See if the candidate can remain focused on the question or if he gets lost. This will help you find candidates who don’t let tiny distractions get in the way of finishing the job.

10. 3 months later, call and offer the candidate a job she didn’t apply for

WHY? To find people who are determined

This is a great way to weed out people who obviously didn’t really want the job in the first place. Does the candidate fight for the job he wanted? Does he take the offer because he thinks it’s the best he can get? Or does he turn it down because he already found another job months ago? This tactic is a good way to suss that out.
Go to the profile of Sarah Cooper

Sarah Cooper

Former Googler / Writer & Comedian / Author of upcoming book, 100 Tricks to Appear Smart in Meetings (October 2016)
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