[Google] has created an automated way to search for talent among the more than 100,000 job applications it receives each month. It is starting to ask job applicants to fill out an elaborate online survey that explores their attitudes, behavior, personality and biographical details going back to high school....What Googlish methods were used to come up with the questions and the formula for weighting them? They surveyed the employees they already had with various questions like "Is your work space messy or neat?" and "Are you an extrovert or an introvert?" and connected the answers to the 25 different measurements they had about each survey-taker's job performance. This gave them 2 million data points to analyze.
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....
What did they figure out? Nothing, really, as far as I can tell. High grades in school don't guarantee success at work. Who is surprised? You can tell if a person was once both smart, goal-oriented, and hard-working. But how they're going to behave once they land the job is a different matter altogether.
The "vice president for people operations" is quoted saying: "Interviews are a terrible predictor of performance." That's not surprising either, is it? And it's a good thing too. How awful it would be if an interviewer could see into your soul.
I suppose I like the idea of a long survey that is individualized to the conditions and requirements of a particular workplace. It lets different people rise to the top and crack through the layer normally occupied by the applicants with the highest grades. But it seems as though people who want jobs will figure out ways to ace the survey, won't they? And some people are just good at surveys. Why would that make them good workers?
But maybe you think that Google has such brilliant ways of coordinating vast numbers of data points, and whatever they do will somehow -- amazingly, magically -- work.