GOOGLE: An interview with Laszlo Bock (Google’s Snr VP – People Operations)

Recently the ABC’s “WorkLife” Program conducted a very insightful podcast with Laszlo Bock and others on “Let’s improve the way we hire people” (listen).


The key message through this podcast is that the vast majority of employers are not very successful at selecting future high performers because their selection processes are less than adequate. I thought that Laszlo made some very insightful comments which I hope you will also benefit from:


“Hiring Managers, they don’t know how to interview”

  • I feel this is mainly due to not providing hiring managers with a robust process and objective information about each candidate. There is far too much subjectivity and gut-feel.


“Absolute error to rely on your first impressions (regarding evaluating candidates)”

  • Too often hiring managers are overly influenced by their first impressions and potentially discard candidates that may well have all of the attributes required to be a future high performer if they have not developed an objective role benchmark


“Four big things we (Google) look for. The first one is general cognitive ability, so how bright you are and how well you learn…..The second thing we look for is leadership, what we call emergent leadership, do you emerge as a leader when the situation required it…..The third thing is “Googliness”, do you fit the culture…..The fourth thing we look for is expertise..”

  • In essence Google are looking for “fit” to the company and the role. In terms of the JobFit assessments, they measure learning index and cognitive abilities, behaviour traits and underpinning behavioural fit to the role requirements, leadership and the Google culture and they want to ensure that their interests are in alignment with the role requirements. All of these factors increase the success rate of selecting employees that are fully engaged and highly competent in their respective roles


“Your (academic) grades are a little predictive for your first couple of years of your career, but after that they don’t predict anything”

  • Too often hiring managers are overly influenced by what school/university candidates attended and what grades they received. There is an underlying belief that “educated” candidates are far better than those that are not as “educated”, however this belief can be no further from the truth. Just because an individual did not attend a tertiary education institution does not mean that they are not very smart and/or highly astute. It is imperative to objectively measure a candidate’s cognitive abilities not just use their secondary and tertiary acheivements.


The real tragedy surrounding the every day expensive mistakes being made by hiring managers is that the attraction and selection process can be easily improved; all it takes is some different thinking. If we can provide hiring managers with far better processes and more objective information, we can assist them to dramatically improve the success rate of selecting future high performers.