Smart Hiring – Your Company’s Ticket to Greatness

From the Pages of “How Google Works” by Eric Schmidt and Jonathan Rosenberg [Part 3]

Hello again! And welcome to the third post of our How Google Works series!

The first two posts of this series talked about The Power of Culture and Google’s Culture for Success.

I put a lot of emphasis on culture because it plays a very important role in your company’s quest for greatness.

It defines what your company is, what your company believes in and what your company is trying to become. If you have not read those posts yet, make sure to check them out!

And now for the gist of our discussion. Your company is the shadow of your employees. When hiring new talents, the rule is actually simple and straightforward:

Hire a crappy employee and expect crappy results

Hire an average employee and get average outputs

Hire a great employee and you’ll have something outstanding to celebrate on!

In this post, we will be talking about smart hiring —why it is important and why you should start doing it now.

Don’t worry, we have some friends in Mountain View to help us!

What is Smart Hiring and Why it is Important?

Have you ever asked yourself what’s the most important thing you do at work? For Eric and Google’s managers, it is hiring. Why?

Because it’s how you get the best people who will drive your company forward. Unfortunately today, many companies are still using the traditional or hierarchal hiring method.

In this process, hiring managers get to decide who they will hire.

Peer-based hiring takes a lot of work and time. But it is the best investment you can make.

The team members, on the other hand, are just there to give suggestions while the senior executives do nothing more than issuing a stamp of approval to the hiring managers’ decisions. So what’s wrong with this method?

While it worked really well in the past, the traditional hiring process is not enough to cope up with the new challenges and demands brought about by the 21st century.

As workers and consumers “evolve”, so should the hiring process that you are using to acquire new talents.

In How Google Works, Eric outlined some examples as to how the old hiring method could fail:

  1. Today, work is done with high level of collaboration, freedom and transparency. When a hiring manager hires a new person based on his own decision alone, he will be violating the very foundations that define the 21st century workforce —- directly impacting other teams in the company besides his own.
  2. In traditional hiring, a manager is tasked to hire someone who is smarter than himself. But unfortunately, this rule is rarely followed. Why? Because human nature usually gets on the way. There will be a lot of “what-ifs”. What if he replaces me? What If she earns more recognition than me?

These problems (and more) can be easily avoided by using Google’s smart or peer-based hiring process.

In this new method, the focus is on the people and not the organization. It is based on the academia where a lot of efforts are invested in getting promotions and faculty hiring spot on!

Eric admits that peer-based hiring takes a lot of work and time. But as he puts it, “It is the best investment you can make.”

How to Find the Best People to Hire

Open for hiring? Looking for great talents can be very challenging. Fortunately, Eric gave us a couple of pointers to consider. Let’s talk about each one below.

Pointer #1. Passionate People Don’t Say I’m Passionate

Somehow, 21st century workers discovered that passion is a very sought-after trait in many companies.

No wonder why many of them start their cover letters or interviews with the words “I’m passionate about….” According to Eric, “real” passionate people don’t wear passion on their sleeves.

“Real” passionate people don’t wear passion on their sleeves

Instead, they keep it in their hearts and live it. They are those whose will do something they love for a very long time even though they were not successful at first. If they are passionate about something, they don’t take it as a burden.

They take it as a new challenge that will give them the opportunity to become better. As you look for new talents, ask them about something they love and pay attention on how passionate they are.

Pointer #2. Go for Learning Animals

Hire someone that’s smarter than you. This maxim remains true even today. But you know what’s more amazing?

Google’s hiring managers don’t just hire smart creatives because they have a GPA of 4.5, they hire them for the things that they don’t yet know.

I really like what Eric pointed out when he said, “Brainpower is the starting point for any exponential thinker. Intelligence is the best indicator of a person’s ability to handle change.”

This is very important because in the 21st century, everything is rapidly evolving.

Hire someone that’s smarter than you!

The knowledge you have today may become obsolete tomorrow. If you are going to hire someone who is not willing to learn anymore, then what’s the point?

Only learning animals have the character and the ability to handle massive and constant change.

Pointer #3. Character Matters

For Google, character matters a lot. They don’t only hire people who are smart and passionate — they also consider whether a person is interesting or not.

Eric called this the LAX test. Consider these questions when you are talking to a potential hire: If the two of you got stuck in the world’s busiest airport, would you enjoy your time with him?

When you take him to lunch, how does he treat the guard? The waiter? Great people are not only fun to be with, they also treat others well regardless of social status.

Important Hiring Practices to Consider

  1. Everyone knows someone who is great. While hiring managers handle the hiring process, finding people should be everybody’s job.
  1. Interviewing is the most important skill. Practice. Prepare. And keep it at 30 minutes max!
  1. Focus on diversity. Most people want to work with people they want to have beer with. But actually, the opposite is true. Best office buddies often become breeding grounds for failure. Hiring people from different backgrounds bring in new perspectives in the organization too!
  1. Urgency is not a reason to sacrifice quality. Yes, you will always have some vacant positions to fill in right away. But never, ever compromise quality because of urgency. As Eric suggests, “between urgency and quality, quality must prevail.”

Google’s Hiring Dos and Don’ts

In conclusion, I would like to end this post with a list of dos and don’ts that Google uses when hiring employees as outlined in How Google Works.

Hire people who are smarter and more knowledgeable than you are.

Hire people who will add value to the product and our culture.

Hire people who will get things done.

Hire people who are enthusiastic, self-motivated and passionate.

Hire people who inspire and work well with others.

Hire people who will grow with your team and with the company.

Hire people who are well rounded, with unique interests and talents.

Hire people who are ethical and who communicate openly.

Hire only when you’ve found a great candidate.

Don’t hire people you can’t learn from or be challenge by.

Don’t hire people who won’t contribute well to both.

Don’t hire people who just think about problems.

Don’t hire people who just want a job.

Don’t hire people who prefer to work alone.

Don’t hire people with narrow skill sets or interests.

Don’t hire people who only live to work.

Don’t hire people who are political or manipulative.

Don’t settle for anything less.

There you have it! I hope you’ve learned something from this post. Before I let you go, let me leave you this promise.

As you invest more time and serious effort on your hiring process, you will eventually find great employees to work with.

These employees will attract other great workers to work in your company. And sooner or later, you’ll just wake up one day and realize that your company is now on the highway to greatness.

P.S. Don’t miss my next post on the importance and power of communication!


Written By

Lenmark Anthony Baltazar

I have been living a life of HR for as long as I can remember. My experiences helped me realize that true happiness comes from being a blessing to the lives of others. I hope my skills and talents will be a blessing to you as well.