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Google Executive: You Can Win Every Interview With These 6 Steps

Posted by | March 30, 2015 | Interviews, Tips

Via TimeHow do you get to Carnegie Hall? Practice, practice, practice

Three unbelievably cool things happened to me this week. On Monday, my publisher sent me the first hardcover copies of my new book, Work Rules! It’s a real thing now! On Tuesday, the CEO of a major company told me he’d been following my interviews with Tom Friedman about how to get a job at Google, or anywhere. He asked how his company could adopt some of those same practices. Someone is listening!

And on Wednesday, a new Googler stopped me in one of our on-campus cafes. He told me, “I read every one of your articles about resumes and what Google looks for, did what you said, and just started at Google last week. I just want to thank you for helping me get hired by Google.” That was the coolest moment — more than anything I want all of us to have meaningful jobs in workplaces where we feel like owners, not replaceable cogs in a machine.

So first, my thanks to the millions who have read my advice. Thanks for the tens of thousands of posts, and for sharing your success stories with me and one another. I can’t wait to hear more of them!

Let’s assume, like my Noogler friend (new + Googler), you’ve got an awesome resume. You’ve avoided the errors that plague almost 60% of resumes, nailed the right keywords, and your accomplishments burst from the page. (And if your resume isn’t awesome – yet! – read my earlier articles about getting it right here and avoiding getting it wrong here and here.)

Now you’ve got the interview. How do you convince the person on the other side of the table to hire you? How do you win the interview?

You use the fact that most of us aren’t very good at interviewing to your advantage.

I write about hiring in Work Rules!, but here’s an abridged preview from the book:

“You never get a second chance to make a first impression” was the tagline for a Head & Shoulders shampoo ad campaign in the 1980s. (A couple of cringe-worthy examples are here and here.) This unfortunately encapsulates how most interviews work. Tricia Pricket and Neha Gada-Jain, two psychology students at the University of Toledo, collaborated with their professor Frank Berieri to report in a 2000 study that judgments made in the first 10 seconds of an interview could predict the outcome of the interview. They videotaped interviews, and then showed thinner and thinner “slices” of the tape to college students. For 9 of the 11 variables they tested — like intelligence, ambition, and trustworthiness — they found that observers made the same assessments as the interviewers. Even without meeting the candidates. Even when shown a clip as short as 10 seconds. Even with the sound turned off.

In other words, most of what we think is “interviewing” is actually the pursuit of confirmation bias. Most interviews are a waste of time because 99.4 percent of the time is spent trying to confirm whatever impression the interviewer formed in the first ten seconds. “Tell me about yourself.” “What is your greatest weakness?” “What is your greatest strength?” Worthless.

There’s much more in the book demonstrating that, on average, we’re pretty crummy at assessing candidates. I write about how to get better. And how at Google we’ve applied 100 years of science to radically upgrade the quality of our assessments (still not perfect, though!).

Laszlo Bock is the Senior Vice President of People Operations at Google.

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