They’ve done it again. Google have just topped Fortune’s magazine’s list of top 100 Best companies to work for.

A big part of this equation, it seems to me, is that the best talent attracts the best talent, which attracts the best talent and so on. One big virtuous circle!

There must be some magic at Google in attracting the best?

Well, it seems that there is. Yes, there’s other exciting reasons to join Google, but they put it down, first and foremost, to one thing: recruitment.

They do recruitment completely differently to everybody else, and they’ve done it differently from day one!

How do I know this? I’ve just read an great book, “How Google Works”, co-authored by the CEO himself, Eric Schmidt .

Here’s what I leant….

1. Hiring is the most important thing they do. The hiring process is prirotised above anything else and it’s intense– (a series of 5 interviews) for every single role. Their analogy is that of a top sports coach who’s sole purpose is to draft, recruit or trade the best players they can. Smart coaches know that no amount of strategy can substitute for talent.

2. It’s the team that hires. At Google it’s all about collaboration. So, they believe that it shouldn’t be up to a single person to make a decision that directly impacts so many people besides themselves. In any case, the hiring manager will probably be the new employee’s manager for only a matter of months, or one or two years at the most.

3. They don’t make recruitment decisions based on previous experience – they hire people who they define as “smart creatives”: people who have the key qualities of passion, intelligence, a learning mindset and character and who, through these qualities, will add value to their culture. These are their primary focus. They believe that past experience can be practically irrelevant because technology and the pace of change in most industries makes it quickly obsolete.

4. They hire people not for the knowledge they possess but for the things they don’t yet know. Google’s ideal candidates are those “who prefer roller-coasters, the one’s who keep learning”. These are those who have the capacity to handle massive change and the character to love it. In a world of accelerated change and uncertainty, they believe businesses increasingly need people who can change themselves, who can adapt; those who do better when they are faced with change.

5. They “expand the aperture”. This is equivalent to setting a wider aperture on your camera (as they put it) in order to round up people beyond the usual suspects. “Look beyond those with titles in certain fields. Look for people who can do the job well tomorrow as well as today”, Google says.

6. It’s everyone’s job to recruit that great person, not the recruiters. The problem with recruiters is that they don’t have to live with their mistakes, it’s the company who do, says Google. As an alternative, it says, its easy for any company to double in size with great people – all it takes is for each employee to refer just one great person. They recommend that you put this in everyone’s job description and measure it!

7. Interviewing is the most important skill…that any business person can have, according to them. At Google, the key is preparation, preparation, preparation and practice, practice, practice. They say that you need to do this or you’ll never dig deep enough. They go onto say that you need to ask stuff that tests the exact things that you are looking for in the ideal candidate, outside of their experience and CV.

8. Hire when you’ve only found a great candidate. Don’t settle for anything less! In other words, as Google put it, the urgency of a role isn’t sufficiently important to compromise quality in hiring. In the inevitable trade-off between speed and quality, quality must prevail!

Compare this to the vast majority of businesses…

  • In a recent survey, senior executives cited that the most important thing they do as “attending meetings”! “People” and “hiring” were much further down the list.
  • Usually it’s only ever the hiring manager who makes the decision.
  • Most businesses when hiring for a role look for people who have excelled in that role before. You look at any list of job ads and the top criteria for nearly every position is “relevant experience”!
  • Lots of businesses and their senior executives abdicate responsibility for hiring and, as a result, quality suffers. They need to be closely involved, even when using others, such as HR Managers or agencies.
  • The simple truth is that is that most people are not good at interviewing. And it’s probably not their fault as most management courses don’t even cover it. Google response, prepare more, practice more, and get good t it!

Google certainly do their recruitment differently! A trait that is close to my heart.

The nice thing about any of these things is that anyone can do them. Anyone can change the way they hire. So the overall lesion, for me, is….

it’s your choice…

do what you’ve always done and get what you’ve always got, or…..

do things differently and get different and better results.