I’ve really wondered whether the brainteasers actually helped hire a good team. Nice of Google to give us the benefit of their analysis. Also, they probably are now interested in hiring people who previously weren’t even interested in interviewing because they had heard about the interview process, so it’s in their interest to pass this information around. ☺

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. [emphasis mine]

Instead, what works well are structured behavioral interviews, where you have a consistent rubric for how you assess people, rather than having each interviewer just make stuff up.

So, the best preparation for a good job interview is to update your resumé, even if your interviewer doesn’t want to see it. Doing so will refresh your memory of what you have done on the job and better prepare you for giving good answers to the behavioral interview questions.

In Head-Hunting, Big Data May Not Be Such a Big Deal

Curtis Olson June 22, 2013 22:32

Interesting that google promotes the idea of asking candidates how they solved specific things in their own past situations.  Concrete, tell me how you solved something vs. how might you solve some random thing you’ve never had a chance to see or think about before this very moment.  In all the interviews I’ve done in my life, I had only one interviewer take that approach and it really stuck out to me, (I’m not a very good on-the-fly b.s.er) so in the years past when I’ve had a few rare chances to interview people, I’ve tried to take the same basic approach.  I also remember the guy who berated me for the remainder of the interview because I didn’t think that all important computer related security issues would be solved in the next 6 months (this was back in maybe 1991.)

Michael K Johnson June 22, 2013 22:41

+Curtis Olson Not too long after I became a manager at Red Hat, they gave me training in behavioral interviewing, and I’ve used what I learned ever since. I think it’s easier for both sides of the interview.

It seems that lots of managers have either gotten no training or poor training in interviewing, and often it is hard to tell who is more stressed in the interview.

But even for those who lack the training, concrete stories ring true, and so my advice to people interviewing for jobs is to reflect on good and bad job situations from the past to be able to provide concrete answers even when the interviewer doesn’t know to ask concrete questions. I point out that making the interviewer feel more comfortable can’t hurt your chances…

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