Job Application Optimization for Google

    January 3, 2007

The New York Times takes a topic first covered by the Wall Street Journal back in October and asks us to suspend reality and believe it’s the first time it’s been discussed.

Ok, so that rant aside, if you did miss the WSJ version, you may wish to check out the NYT’s look at how Google is automating its hiring process using complex interview questions and algorithms.

The questions range from the age when applicants first got excited about computers to whether they have ever tutored or ever established a nonprofit organization. The answers are fed into a series of formulas created by Google’s mathematicians that calculate a score – from zero to 100 – meant to predict how well a person will fit into its chaotic and competitive culture.

I studied psychology for a few years and it strikes me that these types of questions can be gamed. If you’re presented with targeted questions like “have you ever started your own business?”, you’ll likely guess the answer Google is looking for is a “yes”. I wonder how long it will be before applicants are figuring out the job application algo, optimizing their answers and maybe even using a little blackhat.

Still, Google must be doing something right with its hiring process as hardly anyone leaves.

The company boasts that only 4 percent of its work force leaves each year, less than other Silicon Valley companies. And it works hard to retain people, with copious free food, time to work on personal projects and other goodies. Stock options and grants certainly encourage employees to stay long enough to take advantage of the company’s surging share price.



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Andy Beal is an internet marketing consultant and considered one of the world’s most respected and interactive search engine marketing experts. Andy has worked with many Fortune 1000 companies such as Motorola, CitiFinancial, Lowes, Alaska Air, DeWALT, NBC and Experian.

You can read his internet marketing blog at Marketing Pilgrim and reach him at