As a small business employer, you might not have the resources to offer employees the same fancy perks or astronomical salaries that Google does. And you probably don’t get anywhere close to getting one million resumes a year, but that doesn’t mean you can’t learn a thing or two from the tech giant’s hiring process. After all, in the end, Google is just looking for the best candidates for its business – just like you are.
So here are a few lessons from Google’s hiring process that you can apply to your small business as well.
- Skip the brainteasers. Many employers like to ask employees brainteaser questions to see how well they think on their feet, and for years, Google was famous for this practice; however, not only do candidates perceive these questions as unfair, Google ultimately found these types of questions weren’t a good prediction of success on the job. Now, they give candidates work sample tests and ask structured interview questions.
- Involve others in the hiring decision. Google has a ‘hiring committee’ made up of senior managers and other employees who meet all potential candidates and share feedback. This form of collaborative hiring helps ensure no single manager can make a potentially bad decision by themselves.
- Look for cultural fit. One of the four main characteristics Google looks for in potential employees is “Googleyness.” The company wants employees who are the right fit for the company’s unique culture. In fact, its hiring managers focus less on education and experience and more on finding people who “are great at lots of things, love big challenges and welcome big changes,” according to Google’s website.
- Ask about mistakes, not weaknesses. Instead of asking candidates to talk about their biggest weakness, the team at Google asks potential employees to discuss a time they made a mistake at work – and what they learned from it. Google knows that mistakes happen, but they want candidates who have the gumption to own up to their mistakes and wise enough to learn from them.
- Ask for employee referrals. A high percentage of Google’s hires come from employee referrals. Employee referrals not only tend to generate better quality hires, but they can cut down on time and costs related to hiring, making them the perfect option for small businesses.
- Be explicit about the process. Google wants potential employees to know exactly what to expect throughout the hiring process – that’s why the company outlines the process on its careers page. Explaining your hiring process to candidates doesn’t just benefit them, it also helps your hiring managers make more informed decisions. After all, the more prepared candidates are going into the interview, the more focused they will be, and the more a hiring manager can learn about them and get an understanding of their potential as an employee.
Lately, we’ve all been oohing and ahhing over Mark Zuckerberg’s photos of his new, adorbs baby; applauding him for taking two months of paternity leave; and lauding his decision to give away most of his Facebook stock to charitable causes.
Beyond sharing his sweet new fatherhood moments with us, he’s also recently shared insight into what he looks for in a hire. According to “Time” magazine, Zuckerberg revealed his one rule for hiring a new employee: “I will only hire someone to work directly for me if I would work for that person.”
While a simple notion, it makes a lot of sense. When hiring people to work on your team, you want those who you admire and respect and who you could see becoming leaders themselves one day.
He’s not the only high-profile CEO to have shared his or her words of wisdom on hiring. Here are additional hiring tips from some of the world’s most famous company leaders.
- Get the CEO more involved: Yahoo’s Chief Executive Marissa Mayer has been said to personally review every serious candidate’s resume to ensure that they meet her high standards of what a Yahoo employee should be. While this practice has been met with mixed reviews, it helps to have a leader who is more closely involved in hiring decisions because they’ll likely be more understanding of the challenges hiring managers and recruiters face and more receptive to investing in ways to fix them.
- Ask these three questions: Jeff Bezos, Amazon’s founder and CEO, challenges his hiring managers to ask themselves these three questions before they make a hire: 1. Will you admire this person? 2. Will this person raise the average level of effectiveness of the group they’re entering? 3. Along what dimensions might this person be a superstar? These considerations speak to the core of what makes an employee successful — their fit within the company culture, their ability to challenge and push their team, and their potential to lead.
- Strive for diversity of thought and style: Diversity can mean different things, according to Apple’s CEO Tim Cook. He told “Inc.” that when looking for talent, “We want diversity of thought. We want diversity of style. We want people to be themselves. It’s this great thing about Apple. You don’t have to be somebody else. You don’t have to put on a face when you go to work and be something different. But the thing that ties us all is we’re brought together by values.”
- Hire optimists. Disney’s Chief Executive Bob Iger told the “Harvard Business Review” that optimism is a trait his leaders need to have. That means hiring people who won’t be afraid to take risks and see failures as opportunities. “You’ve got to be an optimist. You can’t be a pessimist. When you come to work, you’ve got to show enthusiasm and spirit. You can’t let people see you brought down by the experience of failure. You don’t have that luxury. I believe in taking big risks creatively. If you fail, don’t do it with mediocrity — do it with something that was truly original, truly a risk.”
- Think beyond recruiting. PepsiCo’s CEO Indra Nooyi says that hiring people is the easy part; it’s developing and retaining those hires that often proves the most difficult. And so it’s important to continue to invest in hires — both personally and professionally — once they become employees. “The only way we will hold on to the best and brightest is to grasp them emotionally. No one may feel excluded. It’s our job to draw the best out of everyone. That means employees must be able to immerse their whole selves in a work environment in which they can develop their careers, families and philanthropy, and truly believe they are cared for.”