Google’s secret weapon for world domination: Data-based hiring

“All people decisions at Google are based on data and analytics.”
Kathryn Dekas


I have long advocated the use of hard scientific data in hiring as one of the most effective means to drive organisational success. It was a bit of an uphill battle at first. While all CEO’s recognised that the key to a successful business is having the best people, they were not using the best, most predictive methods for identifying the best people. But more and more I see technology meeting psychology in forward-thinking companies. I recently discovered a great article which explored the secret to the hiring success of one of the world’s most successful and innovative firms—Google.

Google has done away with the ages-old subjective decision-making approach in HR which relies on CV reviews and interviews, and replaced it with a highly innovative, data-powered approach it calls “people analytics.” Does it work? Well, considering that each Google employee generates over $1,000,000 in revenue every year, I would think the answer is yes. And given that every company is only as good as its people, I believe that a large part of Google’s extraordinary market success can be attributed to its data-based hiring approach.

The most powerful illustrations of Google’s “People Analytics” approach.

Google has identified the key mechanisms by which they can improve the effectiveness of their employees, here are my top 5 most powerful demonstrations of these:

  • 8 key characteristics of effective managers– Google looked at internal data to identify the 8 key characteristics that are essential for great managers in terms of performance and retention. The key to being a successful leader is providing team members with frequent personalized feedback.
  • An effective hiring algorithm with only a 1.5% miss rate– Google approaches selection scientifically and has developed an algorithm for predicting which candidates have the highest probability of success. The algorithm analyzed rejected resumes for each large job family in order to identify top candidates who might have been missed. This algorithm found that their initial miss rate was only 1.5%.
  • What about retention? Google has developed a successful mathematical algorithm to predict which employees are most likely to turn over. This enables leaders to personalise coaching and act before it’s too late.
  • What about the value of top performers? Google has identified that an exceptional technologist can be as much as 300 times more effective than an average one. By proving the value of top performers, executives can be convinced to provide the resources essential to employing, keeping, and developing talent.
  • Here’s the data to prove it — Success is not a matter of opinion or qualitative judgment. Analytics teams look to pre-employment assessment and on-the-job metrics to prove it.

By using these methods Google has determined that minimal value was added by an extended interviewing process and was consequently able to dramatically shorten their time to hire.

Every smart business today is metrics-driven. But Google has taken the lead in applying an analytical, metrics-driven approach to the processes of employee hiring and staff development. By their own analysis, a data-based approach to people has generated exceptionally positive business results for them. And hey – if it’s good enough for Google, it probably would work for you too!


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