How Google interviews men & women differently

Google has changed up the way it interview prospective employees, but don’t be caught out by a seemingly simple question

Google’s brain teaser style interview questions have proved famous, with often-impossible answers designed to reward out-of-the-box thinking with gainful employment at one of tech’s blue chip companies.

Laszlo Bock, Senior Vice President of people operations at Google says that although they no longer ask these brain wrecking questions, their new method of interviewing is a wolf wearing sheep’s clothing.

“On a scale of one to five, rate yourself as a software engineer.”

It seems like a fairly simple question with a quick numeric answer.  But the way men and women answer this question could affect their interview success.  The best answer for men is a four, but the best answer for women is a five. The difference has its roots in the ways that men and women perceive themselves.

“And our hypothesis is, that’s because men tend to overestimate their capabilities, on average. Men tend to be less self-aware, on average, as [compared to] women,” Bock says on the podcast. “And for a man to say four was a signal — not the only one, but a signal — that this guy’s a little more self-aware, maybe he realizes he has something to learn, and that was positively correlated with success here.”

Bock offers a more full explanation of why women with higher self-estimations perform better.

“If you’re a woman, however, the score that was most predictive was a five out of five,” Bock says on the podcast. “And our hypothesis there was because there is so much societal pressure on women to be self-effacing and humble and hang back and be modest, and wait till they’re certain rather than raising their hand at the first opportunity like men, on average, do — that if a woman says she’s a five, first of all, she’s probably going to have higher EQ and social perceptiveness on average. And second — she’s gonna be amazing! And, indeed, that’s what we see.”

So in a nutshell, don’t be afraid to big yourself up a little – that is until they change the questions and we have to psyche out the next interview technique!

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