Google executive: GPA, test scores ‘worthless’ for hiring

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Robby Soave Reporter
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Grade point averages, test scores, interviews and even resumes are poor indicators of whether a job applicant is right for the position, said a top human resources executive at Google.

“One of the things we’ve seen from all our data crunching is that G.P.A.’s are worthless as a criteria for hiring, and test scores are worthless,” said Laszlo Bock, senior vice president of people operations at Google, in a recent interview with The New York Times.

Google doesn’t even ask applicants to submit their GPAs and test scores anymore, unless they are very recent college graduates.

Interviews with prospective candidates weren’t very useful, either. The company conducted a study of its hiring process and concluded that there was “zero correlation” between how well an interview went and a hired employee’s job performance.

Google also abandoned its infamous practice of asking interviewees incredibly difficult brain teaser questions. Here was a sample question, courtesy of Business Insider:

“Every wife in the village instantly knows when a man other than her husband has cheated, but does not know when her own husband has. The village has a law that does not allow for adultery. Any wife who can prove that her husband is unfaithful must kill him that very day. The women of the village would never disobey this law. One day, the queen of the village visits and announces that at least one husband has been unfaithful. What happens?”

Maddeningly difficult logic puzzles, like the one above, “don’t predict anything,” said Bock.

“We found that brainteasers are a complete waste of time,” he said.

The reason that grades and test scores tend not to predict success in the workplace is that the work environment is nothing like a school environment, said Bock. College classes are highly structured, and stress excellence in a narrow set of skills that are often irrelevant to job performance.

“I think academic environments are artificial environments,” he said. “People who succeed there are sort of finely trained, they’re conditioned to succeed in that environment.”

In lieu of traditional measures of achievement, hiring executives are cutting out the middlemen of resumes and studying applicants directly via their online presence. Internet searches can paint a fairly compelling portrait of a prospective employee, and job-oriented networking services like LinkedIn help connect employers to the people who interest them.

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Robby Soave