In this summer’s comedy “The Internship”, the characters played by Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson have to beat out rivals for a job at American internet giant Google by answering some fairly unusual brainteasers.
What would you do, for example, if you were shrunk to the size of a peanut and popped in a blender?
In the real world, Google Inc. leads Forbes’ list of companies to work for and attracts applicants from around the globe. But does the company really ask those kinds of puzzling questions to weed out candidates?
“The primary purpose that a case interview or brain teaser observes is to make the interviewer feel clever… They don’t predict performance, and the second issue is it is a very culturable skill,” Laszlo Bock, senior vice president of People Operations at Google’s Hong Kong office, said Thursday.
Bock said candidates can get used to these questions and improve over time with practise.
He said that the best predictor of performance is general cognitive ability, and the best way to assess that is by a structured behavioral interview. For instance, interviewers will ask the applicants to name a few real-life difficulties they have faced and explain how they solved them.
“We are just walking them through their own experiences so we can understand their thought process. What’s great about the approach is we get to see them solve a problem… but the second thing is we get the information about what they consider a difficult problem,” Bock said.
Bock said recruiters also ask a lot of follow-up questions about different scenarios to test the real cognitive abilities and problem-solving skills of job seekers.
There will also be four to five interviewers for the assessment, forcing the applicants to cite several real-life challenges and answer many more questions, reducing potential bias in the interview process.
The Hong Kong office of Google was set up in 2006 and now has dozens of staff, most of whom are involved in sales and marketing.
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