I go into a lot of this in the book I’m currently writing (more info at the bottom of this post if you’re viewing this in a web browser), but the New York Times had a great interview with Laszlo Block, Google’s senior vice president of people operations.
Some key points:
On the hiring side, we found that brainteasers are a complete waste of time. How many golf balls can you fit into an airplane? How many gas stations in Manhattan? A complete waste of time. They don’t predict anything. They serve primarily to make the interviewer feel smart.
As I’ll argue in the book, it’s not the only waste of time. Another contrived excercise, the whiteboard experience - where a developer candidate is asked to code on a whiteboard, is similarly unuseful. No developer works in that sort of environment, and success or failure in that environment can tell you less to nothing about how he or she will perform their job.
Behavioral interviewing also works — where you’re not giving someone a hypothetical, but you’re starting with a question like, “Give me an example of a time when you solved an analytically difficult problem.”
Yeah, the book will have a whole section on these types of questions … and what sort of responses you’re looking for out of them.
After two or three years, your ability to perform at Google is completely unrelated to how you performed when you were in school, because the skills you required in college are very different. You’re also fundamentally a different person. You learn and grow, you think about things differently.
This is true not just of those out of school. Any time you transition to a new job and a new company, you’re going to change and adapt. The developer you are now will not be the same developer you become two or three years down the line.
The entire interview is interesting, and I highly recommend clicking through and checking it out.
And, again, if this sort of thing interests you, fill out the form below to get the first two chapters of my upcoming book, “The DIY Recruiting Handbook” (working title) absolutely free.