Imagine heading into a job interview that can be a several month-long process, has strict NDAs, and forces you to endure a marathon of interrogation in windowless offices. To top it off, while in those windowless offices, you’re asked mind-boggling questions like, “How many gas stations/dogs/windowpanes are there in the United States?,” “How many people use Google Maps in your country?,” or “Given an array of numbers, there is one number that has a duplicate. How would you find the number?.”….would you be intimidated?
If you want to work at Google, you better not be.
Forbes reporter Meghan Casserly wrote an interesting piece last month on the topic, giving some insight into why Google asks such questions, which may seem at first asinine to many. According to a couple of her expert resources for the story:
“This kind of question is used to determine poise and the ability to think on one’s feet,” says Dale Austin, director of career services at Michigan’s Hope College. “But also to assess creativity and problem-solving.” In other words, Google is looking for a quick answer that proves you’re not only agile but logical, adaptable and math-minded.
That’s all well and good for the analytical minds of Googlers, but veteran Bay-area executive headhunter Chuck Pappalardo says it really all depends on what you’re looking for. For Google, whose ranks Pappalardo describes as “engineer from top to bottom,” they can prove telling. “These kinds of questions measure whether someone can work in the crazy environment [of a young tech firm] and have the right engineering background to make them a good employee. They show quick, analytical thinking, and the ability to pivot.”
But what these “trick” questions can’t highlight is a quality that Pappalardo sees as not only more human, but more vital to the majority of careers–positions where customer or client interaction is essential. That quality? Integrity.
“A good interview requires more than just good questions. It also requires a deep understanding of the traits and behaviors you’re seeking or avoiding,” he says. “By crafting questions designed to elicit “evidence” of the desired characteristics, you’re able to draw conclusions about candidates’ ability to perform in an authentic and meaningful way.”
Within this context, these questions seem far from asinine but rather extremely clever. In fact, many of these qualities – for example, working in a sometimes crazy, hectic environment, having solid client interaction skills, and the ability to show quick and analytical thinking – are very relatable to a PR agency environment and really any business where collaboration, client services, and team work are key to its success.
Maybe we’ll start incorporating some of this interview style into our own process at March!