Tag Archive: Google

Google admits their brain teaser interview questions are a complete waste of time

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.

Recently there’s been an explosion of spam “aggregator” sites (like efreedom.com and mail-archive.com) that show up in Google search results that scrape real sites (like StackOverflow.com) and pack in blinding amounts of ads.

It’s a huge waste of time trying to look through the aggregator’s pages looking for the answer to your problems, only to find out you have to click through to get to the full discussion on the real site. I’ve learned to skip those spam sites in the search results, but that’s a waste of mental bandwidth. If you want to automatically remove them from the search results entirely, there are a couple ways of doing it.

You could type “-site:efreedom.com –site:mail-archive.com etc etc etc” into each search, but that’s hardly convenient. Or you could use Google’s Custom Search Engine feature to seamlessly remove sites from your search results, but the trade off is the Custom Search Engine has a half page of ads at the top, so that doesn’t really clean things up for us.

Here’s the solution I use: If you are willing to use Firefox (or do already) and turn off Google Instant Search, you can install a tool that customizes the Google search pages and automatically strips the spammy sites from the results.

You’ll need Firefox (I’m told this also works with Chrome) then
1. Turn off Instant Search on the Google search page (set to “Instant is off”). The Google Noise Reduction Version 0.2.9 script doesn’t work with Instant Search.
2. Install the Greasemonkey addon from the official Firefox site: https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/748/
3. Set the script editor for Greasemonkey:
a. Type “about:config” in the Firefox URL window (as if you were typing in a website address) and hit enter.
b. Hit the “I’ll be careful, I promise!” alert button.
c. In the Filter box, type “greasemonkey.editor” and doubleclick the preference when it appears.
d. Set the value to “C:\Windows\system32\notepad.exe” (or your favorite script editing tool) and hit ok.
4. Install the Google Noise Reduction script from the Greasemonkey script site: http://userscripts.org/scripts/show/44418
a. Hit the Install button and ok.
b. If you see the user.js file display instead, go to Tools –> Greasemonkey –> Enabled.
c. Version 0.2.9 has a small bug in it, so if you install that version, you’ll want to fix it:
i. Go to Tools –> Greasemonkey –> Manage User Scripts and edit the Google Noise Reduction script.
ii. Find the “if(window.AutoPagerize…” block and replace it with:

var addFilterHandler = function(){
        var autopagerize_linkNode = 
        $(autopagerize_linkNode, page)
            .each(function(index, node){ 
        }, 0);
} else { 
    window.addEventListener('GM_AutoPagerizeLoaded', addFilterHandler, false); 

iii. Hit Save.
5. Now when you run a Google search, you’ll see a “Filter” button next to every result. Hit that button for every spam site you want to filter out and select the URL you want to block. When you run your search, you’ll never see that site again!
6. You can manage your blocked sites in the “Noise Reduction” button at the top of the Google page.

P.S. There are literally thousands of Greasemonkey scripts out there that let you customize websites in all kinds of ways. You can find hundreds for hacking Google pages, but I’ve found they often conflict with each other, so be prepared to test new scripts and uninstall them if they block other scripts’ features you need. If you find a script that works better than Google Noise Reduction, let me know.

Happy searching!

© 2018 Robert Corvus