Wednesday, 13 April 2016

Hiring for Google; Manager Human Resources

Hiring for Google; Manager Human Resources
Alyzae Feroze, MPS

Employers take a huge risk every time they hire employees and must be extremely meticulous during the pre-employment process, partly because of the cost associated with training and replacing unfit workers. In order to minimize this risk, assessment tools are used during pre-employment with the goal of measuring whether or not an employee truly possess the aptitude for the position. Although pre-employment assessment tools are not perfect, they still have some degree of validity that can be useful in determining if a candidate is good fit for the position in question.

This article will explore three different validated assessment tools that include, The Wonderlic Test for cognitive ability, The Big Five for personality testing, and the Situational Judgment Testing which is customized for each organization and position. These assessment tools were chosen with a specific organization and position in mind: Google Inc., HR Manager. The Five Factor Test will also be used to address leadership, which is a critical skill required for an HR manager’s success.

            Cognitive ability assessments are used to test candidate’s general mental abilities, this includes mathematical/verbal reasoning, logic, and perceptual abilities. The Wonderlic test in particular consists of 50 questions and is to be completed within 12 minutes. This test is great for measuring problem solving skills as well as team building abilities. The score is calculated based on the number of correct answers within the given time frame. For our purposes the average score of an executive is 28 and this should be considered when scoring the potential HR manager at Google. An advantage to this type of assessment is that it is one of the most valid selection methods, it is easy to use, and is good for predicting performance for more complex jobs, such as HR Manager. There are also 700 job profiles available and can be custom created for specific jobs if need be.In terms of disadvantages, the results of this test are more likely to differ based on gender and race compared to other tests and it can be time-consuming to create if not purchased.

            This test is important tool for this particular role because it targets a candidate’s ability to use logic, reasoning, and learn quickly. All of these attributes are essential for an individual in an HR position because they constantly have adapt to new situations depending on how they need to interact with various departments. For example, the Wonderlic is great for assessing mathematical ability, to have an HR manager who is proficient in math would mean they can understand and relate better to employees in the finance and accounting departments of the organization.

    Personality assessments are another great way to evaluate potential employees. Typically, these types of tests have moderate validity but when created to match specific job criteria their validity increases. The Big Five or 5-factor personality test usually consists of fifty statements and each must be rated based on much the candidate agrees with the statement. The five factors are, extraversion, conscientiousness, emotional stability, agreeableness and openness to experience.  Google is huge proponent of personality tests because it “realized that its use of university GPA and interview performance was not as predicative of employee success as it had thought, it asked all employees who had been here for at least five months to complete a (personality) survey.” (Phillips, 2009)They then compared results to 25 measures of employee performance and figured out algorithms in order to assess a candidate’slevel of success for roles such as human resources. An advantage of personality tests is that they are less likely to differ by gender and age, they are cost efficient, and do not require skilled administrators. In terms of disadvantages, they may consist of questions that seem intrusive and not very job related. Another criticism is that individuals are often inclined to respond a way that produces a positive decision outcome rather than speaking the truth.

            This type of assessment test is important for an HR manager candidate at Google because having a likeable personality is essential for a person in HR who will inevitably have to deal with a variety of different people in a variety of different situations. For example, it is important for the HR Manager to score high on a factor such as extraversion because extraversion predicts performance in jobs that require interacting and influencing other people. Agreeableness is also a relevant factor for this role because it predicts success in interpersonal interaction, such as nurturing, helping, and cooperating with others. Clearly, these are key qualities that an HR Manager must use and implement regularly in their position.

            Situational judgment tests are another great assessment tool because they capture a candidate’s non-cognitive skills.  This test can consist of scenarios that are presented in writing, verbally, videos, or a combination of these. It is the candidate’s job to respond with what they believe the most appropriate and effective course of action would be. Advantages of this type of assessment are that they are commonly accepted by candidates because they are relatable to the job, the tests are less like likely to produce “fake responses,” and they provide a realistic preview of the position and what to expect. In terms of disadvantages, this type of testing may be time consuming and expensive to administer.

            It is important for an HR manager to perform well in this type of assessment because HR often requires one to adapt quickly and think on their feet due to the sheer variety of different situations they must deal with. A candidate, who is able to come up with appropriate solutions in a reasonable amount of time, shows hiring managersthat they truly possess the aptitude to perform well when faced with tricky or adverse situations. Also, the questions and scenarios presented are extremely job specific and therefore make it easier for candidates to perform their skills, as well as for evaluators to rate their abilities.

            The Five Factor tool is great way of addressing leadership, which is a critical skill required for an HR Managers success. According to the Five Factor Model, there is actually a profile of what an ideal leader would look like. Based of the acronym for the factors, NEOAC, a good leader would have the following personality traits; Resilient, Energetic, Outgoing/Persuasive, Visionary, Competitive, and Dedicated to a Goal.

            Scoring high within these specific areas of the Five Factor test would indicate that the candidate possesses the personality traits of an ideal leader. It is also important to note that it is impossible to have the same traits simultaneously. For example, drive for achieving and leading is contrary to traits for interpersonal sensitivity. Therefore if Google needs an HR Manager with a strong leadership drive, they may have to give up some interpersonal sensitivity in this person. In summation, although these assessment tools are not perfect, they are still excellent ways for predicting performance success and are a great resource for narrowing down the best candidates.
What does your pre-employment assessment look like?

1.     Phillips, J., & Gully, S. (2009). Strategic staffing. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson/Prentice Hall.
2.     What is I-O? (n.d.). Retrieved October 11, 2015, from testing/testtypes.aspx
3.     Working Resources - Leadership Personality: Do You Have the Right Big Five Traits? (n.d.). Retrieved October 11, 2015, from