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How to Improve Employee Selection - Lessons from Google
by Chris Young

Imagine having such a strong employer brand image that you received over one million job applications annually. What would you do? Review every 100th application? Only consider applicants with a 4.0 GPA? Build a résumé fort and start offering a daycare benefit package to employees? For Google this is the very situation they are currently facing. While some might see this as a blessing, for Google it creates a real dilemma. How can Google effectively and efficiently sort through this avalanche of job applications to choose the best fit employees while not overlooking less obvious but still talented candidates? With a search algorithm of course!

An article in the January 3, 2007 issue of the New York Times discusses this very approach to employee selection taken by Google to better select employees. Google has attempted to integrate a highly scientific methodology into the employee selection process. Recognizing the absurdity of trying to manually review over a million applicants annually, Google turned to its highly talented and technical staff to take a different approach to hiring employees. In an effort to catch candidates who might otherwise slip through the cracks Google has adopted some non-traditional criteria for assessing potential employees.

Instead of focusing heavily on academic achievements and previous job titles and experience, Google is seeking out employees who contain certain personality or behavioral characteristics that are favorable to success in an open job position. Google is now considering activities that indicate leadership abilities, innovation, or creativity as a means to identify successful job candidates. These traits are identified through a series of survey questions aimed at finding out more about a job candidate than could be revealed in a traditional interview or résumé.

Questions a job applicant might expect to see on one of these questionnaires include: Have you ever started a business? Organized a club or group? Tutored someone? When did you first get excited about computers? Of course there are questions about technical skills and abilities which are important to screening candidates, but this is not longer the sole focus of employee selection at Google. These questions are then scored based on skills and personality traits that are likely to result in a successful job hire based on the position in question.

Google has only been using this new approach to hiring for several months, and not on all new applicants, so the jury is still out. However vice president for people operations Lazlo Bock is enthusiastic about the results Google has seen. Bock notes that the new approach is helping to find talent in places not previously considered.

You are probably thinking to yourself, “that is great for Google, but what if I don’t have a team of highly trained mathematicians and computer technicians?”

Don’t despair - the secret is not an in-house team of computer wizards and math professors, but rather access to the right tools to get the job done right. Let me elaborate. Google is essentially doing what thousands of companies just like yours have already discovered: Job Benchmarking and Employee Selection with the use of powerful assessment tools.

That’s right, thousands of companies just like yours have dramatically increased their success in hiring new employees for years by using the same basic concepts Google has recently adopted. The process is relatively simple: Identify the traits and characteristics necessary for success in a position, verify the need for these traits by assessing current top performers, and hire candidates who possess these traits as identified by a personality assessment.

These traits and characteristics are easily identified through personality assessments such as those used by The Rainmaker Group. The results have been amazing, and one of the best kept secrets in business for years. Hiring the right employee for the position has tremendous implications: reduced turnover, improved morale, and higher productivity just to name a few. Chris Young is founder of The Rainmaker Group, a human talent selection and development firm located in Bismarck, ND. The Rainmaker Group specializes in the use of powerful personality assessments and job benchmarking to assist in selecting and retaining the best candidates for the job. Don’t have a team of computer gurus and math wizards? Don’t sweat it! The Rainmaker Group can help! 1-866-988-7246


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