Google’s global staffing lead and senior recruiter Lisa Stern Haynes says that the tech giant is able to employ the very best talent because a group of people have to agree on each person that’s hired.
A hiring manager can say no to an applicant for any reason, says Haynes. On the flip side, a hiring manager cannot single-handedly give the “final yes” to extend a job offer. All suitable candidates must be passed along to a hiring committee for review.
“When managers come to Google for the first time and hear this, especially after years and years of having it a very different way at their previous companies, they’re shocked,” says Haynes.
But the tech giant stands by its strategy of making hiring decisions through a team consensus. “Research tells us that teams that have diverging opinions can make better less biased decisions. And that also applies to the way we make hiring decisions too,” Haynes explains.
Although this method slightly slows down the process, it ends up being hugely beneficial in the long run without having to hire because of time pressure.
The hiring committees at Google are usually made up of leaders in the specific organisation doing the hiring. Members serve on the committee for three to six months before being rotated out of the committee. However, the individual hiring manager is not part of the committee, which Haynes says new managers also find surprising.
The process is as follows: the hiring manager first interviews the candidate and then fills out a hiring packet that includes things like the detailed interview feedback, the recruiter’s notes from the initial conversation, internal references if the person knows someone at Google and external references if the person has submitted professional references.
The hiring manager then passes this review on to the independent committees. The best part of this chain, says Haynes, is that unlike the hiring manager, committee members are removed from the urgency of selecting someone and are able to judge the applicant based solely on merit.
“They’re like a layer of objectivity and they’re looking to see does this person match the qualification for this immediate role at hand,” says the lead recruiter. “Also, are they gonna be a good fit for the organization as a whole for the longer term,”
Because positions are constantly shifting, it’s important that the company employs and values applicants who are problem-solvers and who have a “general cognitive ability” over role-related knowledge because positions are constantly shifting.
“If you think about how quickly Google changes, if you just hire someone to do one specific job but then our company needs change, we need to be rest assured that that person is going to find something else to do at Google,” she says. “That comes back to hiring smart generalists.”
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