How to improve your hiring process, according to a former Google recruiter

For years, Google has been considered kind of a gold standard in the tech recruiting and hiring field. It’s not just the lavish cafeteria or the geek-utopia vibe that has made the company such a giant and lasting success—much of the credit goes to smart hiring strategies and implementing an adaptive approach. If you’re looking to make your organization more Google-esque in your hiring (regardless of what field you’re in), former Google recruiter Kevin Grice has some fantastic insight into what you can do on a practical level.

“Recognize your unconscious biases.”

Most organizations have come in line with non-discriminatory policies that seek to eliminate blatant bias in hiring. But no matter how strict those policies are, or how conscious we are of hiring a qualified person without regard for their personal gender, religion, or race, unconscious bias will likely always come into play. For example, studies have found that people with identifiably ethnic names receive fewer interviews. And while unconscious bias means (by its very nature) that we don’t know exactly why we’re rejecting a person, it’s important to be aware that it exists and to evaluate whether it could be at play in any given step of the process.

According to Grice, using systematic, consistent interviews is one way to limit bias. After all, if every candidate is answering the same questions at the same point in the process, it’s less likely that you’re asking a particular question because you have made an assumption about the interviewee. It also makes your job easier when it comes to evaluate and differentiate each candidate.

“Don’t look for your doppelganger.”

Speaking of bias, according to Grice, people tend to be drawn toward others who remind them of themselves, and organizations want to bring in people who fit in with a particular vibe. It’s basic human nature, which means it will inevitably come into play during the hiring process. And unfortunately, a philosophy of I like you because you remind me of myself leads to less diversity in your talent pool. With increased diversity a non-negotiable goal for so many organizations, specifically looking for people with different backgrounds or experiences is a way to increase that diversity throughout the hiring process.

“Research the person you’re interviewing.”

Just about every candidate who comes through your door for an interview will have spent time prepping for it: researching your company, reading up on the job description, tailoring their resume to the job. It’s not only common courtesy to do some prep work yourself, but also, according to Grice, an opportunity to show off your well-oiled organizational brand to your potential new hire.

That means not only researching the candidate so that you can ask substantive questions, but also ensuring that everyone on your interview panel is well-versed on the candidate as well. Grice recommends “digging a little deeper,” going beyond the standard checks of public social media profiles. A person’s past writing online, videos, etc., can help give you a fuller sense of the candidate—much more than a cursory read of their resume 10 minutes before the interview.

“Be present.”

Grice recommends giving all of your attention to an interview. We live in a multitasking world, but stepping away from email for an hour and focusing attention on a candidate not only ensures that you’re getting the most out of this conversation with a potential new hire, but that you’re also being a good ambassador for your organization. “I’m sorry, I really need to take this” or “I’m just finishing this email really quick” is rarely a mortal insult to an interviewee, but it does convey a message of, “this is not my top priority right now, sorry.”

Whether your organization is a media conglomerate or a small business, Grice’s experience and insights show that all it takes to improve your hiring and interviewing skills are a few mindful, common-sense tweaks that can make all the difference.

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