From a New York Times interview with Laszlo Bock, Sr Vice President of People Operations at Google:

On the hiring side, we found that brainteasers are a complete waste of time. How many golf balls can you fit into an airplane? How many gas stations in Manhattan? A complete waste of time. They don’t predict anything. They serve primarily to make the interviewer feel smart.

Furthermore, there other commonly tracked pieces of information about candidates that proved to have no correlation to that person being a success after being hired:

One of the things we’ve seen from all our data crunching is that G.P.A.’s are worthless as a criteria for hiring, and test scores are worthless — no correlation at all except for brand-new college grads, where there’s a slight correlation. Google famously used to ask everyone for a transcript and G.P.A.’s and test scores, but we don’t anymore, unless you’re just a few years out of school. We found that they don’t predict anything.

Instead, they now focus on a structured, consistent set of behavioral questions that drills down on a candidate’s real world experience, rather than letting each interviewer make stuff up.  For example, a behavioral question such as “Give me an example of a time when you solved an analytically difficult problem” and then ask probing questions based on their answer, you get two important clues about the candidate:

One is you get to see how they actually interacted in a real-world situation, and the valuable “meta” information you get about the candidate is a sense of what they consider to be difficult.

He also has some insights on what to look for in a manager and what qualities make them successful.  They collect feedback from people working for managers and assess them based on criteria such as:

  • the manager treats me with respect,
  • the manager gives me clear goals,
  • the manager shares information,
  • the manager treats the entire team fairly.

These are fundamental things that turn out to be really important in making people feel excited and happy and wanting to go the extra mile for you.