Background: I'm a hiring manager for sysadmins, tech support people, and the occasional front-line manager thereof, and have worked in and interviewed for those positions most of my career, except for a brief stint driving trains -- of which the interview phase was surprisingly valuable in giving me an alternate view of how interviewing can be done.
Whilst I have restructured my company's hiring practices (for the roles I'm involved in) to include MT-inspired behavioural questions, I firmly believe that they are not enough, on their own, to be able to sufficiently determine a candidate's suitability for the role. Historically, my company's interview process was centered around a written technical quiz, and I haven't removed it from the interview process (and I have no intention of ever doing so).
The problem is that the candidate gets to pick the stories they tell, and while you can (and must!) interject to get more information about the candidate's thought processes, if I'm getting a bunch of stories about tracking down performance problems, and I need my candidate to be able to fix performance problems *and* write some scripts, I can't tell if I'm getting a certain set of stories because they're the most appropriate ones or because they're the *only* ones.
My guess as to why you perhaps don't do a big "technical" interview (where I define that as "assessing the candidate's ability to recall and apply the industry-specific body-of-knowledge", rather than firm-specific "fit", or other "soft" skills) in the legal profession is that you've got to pass an (as I understand it) strong technical assessment (a bar exam or equivalent) before you can even hope to get a job *anywhere* in the industry. As such, you can be fairly sure that any candidate who comes to you having passed the bar exam will know the basics of the law.
No such qualifying exam exists in IT, and so we've essentially got to do the equivalent of a bar exam to every candidate who comes through the door, just to make sure they've got the slightest hope of being able to do the job. (Before you ask: no, a degree is *not* sufficient -- I taught some classes at a University, I know what goes on, and there are no shortage of graduates of "reputable" CS programs who I wouldn't trust to plug in my toaster, let alone administer systems). I suspect that the lack of a baseline industry-wide certification, and a very different focus on what makes a "good" employee, pretty much explains the difference in interview structure between the two professions.
As an aside, I've actually been through (and passed) the Google interview process - in many ways, it has elements of behavioural and roleplay interviewing as part of the lengthy technical interview you go through. The pre-qualifying phone screens were in effect "tech quizzes", or "bar exams", and the in-person interviews were, for all intents and purposes, role-plays of various aspects of the day-to-day work in the job I was interviewing for. There wasn't a formal "behavioural questioning" part, and no interviews with "the hiring manager" (I think you get assigned to a team after you join the company -- in my case, the team I was interviewing for hadn't been formed yet, and they didn't have a manager at all yet), and that might be hurting them a little bit, but it's not a million miles away from the spirit of what MT recommends, in my opinion.
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Among many IT professionals, working at Google is seen as a dream job.
And no wonder. The burgeoning company is a driving force in Internet development. Its Web-based word processing app, Writely,
sends a shiver of nervousness through Microsoft. Its Adsense program is
changing e-commerce. And its acquisition of YouTube earned grudging
admiration from Big Media.
Heck, the very word “google” has entered the language, earning a coveted spot in the august confines of Webster’s Dictionary.
Working for Google means working for an organization that’s
extraordinarily well funded – the words “layoff” and “Google” aren’t
likely to be paired anytime soon. It also means working alongside top
talent. With as many applications as Google receives, the company has
its pick of the best.
If that’s not enough, Google serves a free lunch – every day – to its
employees. (“Yummy, and made with love,” according to the company.)
The good news is that Google is hiring. A lot. The company is hoovering
up IT staffers like a Boy Scout at an all-you-can-eat. Its job board lists scads of openings, and with the company’s breathless growth it’s likely there’ll soon be more.
The bad news is that getting hired at Google isn’t easy. It requires a
unique set of characteristics to land a gig with the search giant. With
that in mind, Datamation spoke with Google’s Director of Staffing, Arnnon Geshuri, about the company’s hiring process.
Google, being Google, doesn’t just call its staffers “employees.” No,
that’s far too traditional. So what’s its special term of endearment
With a laugh, Geshuri spills the secret: “When they come on board, they become Googlers.”
However light-hearted, the term is revealing. It suggests a unique
corporate culture, especially in the tech world. (True, Microsoft
workers are called ‘Softies,’ but how many other big tech companies
give workers a nickname? After all, IBM staffers aren’t called
And what makes a Googler?
“We have a core belief that a Googler has certain aspects to
themselves,” Geshuri says. “They’re really motivated, enthusiastic,
The word that stands out in that otherwise generic description is entrepreneurial.
While working in the IT department of, say, a large manufacturing
facility might not require entrepreneurial spirit, working at Google
most certainly does. With the search giant’s rapid growth – and its
aggressive moves in arenas held by competitors – the need for staffers
to possess self-starting business smarts seems clear.
Does that mean that an IT pro needs strong business skills to get hired?
“It’s always a plus, but it’s not necessarily itself a deal breaker,”
Geshuri says. Google prefers it when, “from a business sense, you can
relate to the technical aspects and look at the mission-critical needs
to the company, and really understand some of the context around why
we’re building some of the infrastructure.”
In short, “It helps if the person can align the business needs to the technology.”
This may be more important at Google due to the company's innovative
“20 percent time” policy, in which IT staffers are free to pursue
projects they're passionate about on company time. It takes an
entrepreneurial (and disciplined) spirit to use this unstructured time
in ways that benefit the bottom line.
If you’re wondering if Google has an opening in your particular tech area, the answer is probably yes.
“The great thing is that we have almost every type of IT opening
available,” Geshuri says. “From networking to security to sysadmins. If
you look at our job board, we have tons and tons of amazing openings.”
He’s not exaggerating. The openings range from the data center, global
infrastructure, and security to video conferencing, telecommunications,
and Web site engineering.
The locations, too, are diverse. “It’s not necessarily centralized, so
it’s a broad set of roles in all the locations we have,” he says. The
company has facilities from Phoenix to New York to Dallas, not to
mention Egypt, the Ukraine, Latvia, Ireland, Azerbaijan, and many
(Azerbaijan? Does Google need outposts in every little corner of the world? Is it…planning on taking over the planet?)
“Not one location is hiring more than the other,” Geshuri explains. He
refers to the global growth of the company, how it’s always building
infrastructure, always trying something new, always innovating. “So
each location, we want them to be just as fully staffed as any other
location since we’re growing very rapidly.”
Google receives about 3,000 job applications per day, Geshuri says.
This number represents applications for all the company’s jobs, not
just tech positions.
However, “Because we’re always looking for great IT talent, a great portion of that [3,000 applications] is IT professionals.”
If your resume is one of those that attract attention, your phone will
ring. For IT job applicants, “It’s a phone screen first, with…a series
of folks internally,” he says.
“Once that occurs, the qualified candidates are invited to one of our
campuses to interview in that respective area.” If all goes well,
you’re on your way to becoming a Googler, and earning what Geshuri
refers to as “very competitive compensation and benefit packages.”
If you think you’re qualified, Geshuri stresses that Google is very
interested in hearing from you. “We are very open to new personnel and
new ways of doing things, and we’re always looking for the greatest
talent to come join the Google family," he says. “This is a wonderful
environment for someone to grow in.”