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Google's Answer to Filling Jobs Is an Algorithm 330

Posted by Zonk
from the humanisticly-dehumanizing dept.
An anonymous reader tipped us to a New York Times article about Google's newest HR tool: an algorithm. Starting soon, the company (which gets roughly 100,000 applications a month) will require all interested applicants to fill out an in-depth survey. They'll be using a sophisticated algorithm to work through the submitted surveys, matching applicants with positions. The company has apparently doubled in size in each of the last three years. Even though it's already 10,000 employees strong Laszlo Bock, Google's vice president for people operations, sees no reason the company won't reach 20,000 by the end of the year. This will mean hiring something like 200 people a week, every week, all year. From the article: "Even as Google tries to hire more people faster, it wants to make sure that its employees will fit into its freewheeling culture. The company boasts that only 4 percent of its work force leaves each year, less than other Silicon Valley companies. And it works hard to retain people, with copious free food, time to work on personal projects and other goodies. Stock options and grants certainly encourage employees to stay long enough to take advantage of the company's surging share price. Google's hiring approach is backed by academic research showing that quantitative information on a person's background -- called 'biodata' among testing experts -- is indeed a valid way to look for good workers."
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Google's Answer to Filling Jobs Is an Algorithm

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  • Bias (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Threni (635302) on Thursday January 04, 2007 @05:32PM (#17465024)
    It will be interesting to see if any company using this technique ever get accused of racial,sexual etc bias.

    "But the computer chose them! You're not going to sue my computer, are you?"
    • Re:Bias (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Shmooze (784340) on Thursday January 04, 2007 @05:41PM (#17465204)
      It depends how good their algorithm is - let's say it looks at what proportion of your life since graduating you've been in work, where more is better. That's a disadvantage to women because they (generally) take time off to have/raise kids and so on, even though the algorithm isn't specifically designed to discriminate against them.

      (OK, so it's a trivial case, but you get the general idea)

      I suspect there could be plenty of arguments in court about whether some nuance of the algorithm treats some group unfairly or not...
      • Re:Bias (Score:4, Interesting)

        by profplump (309017) <zach-slashjunk@kotlarek.com> on Thursday January 04, 2007 @06:19PM (#17465758)
        Except "people with less work experience" is not a protected group, so it's not unlawful to discriminate on the basis of previous work experience, unless you do so with the intent of discriminating against an actual protected group. I'm just guessing, but I'd say it would be awfully hard to win a case based on such "discrimination", short of someone admitting that they did it to avoid hiring women.
        • Re:Bias (Score:5, Informative)

          by general_re (8883) on Thursday January 04, 2007 @06:27PM (#17465878) Homepage
          Except "people with less work experience" is not a protected group, so it's not unlawful to discriminate on the basis of previous work experience, unless you do so with the intent of discriminating against an actual protected group. I'm just guessing, but I'd say it would be awfully hard to win a case based on such "discrimination", short of someone admitting that they did it to avoid hiring women.

          No. See Griggs v. Duke Power Co., 401 U.S. 424, 431-2 (1971). A plaintiff can show that some employment criterion or criteria results in a disparate impact upon a protected group, regardless of whether discrimination is overtly intended or not. The burden of proof then shifts to the employer to show that said criteria are a necessary requirement for the job(s) in question. If they can't, they lose. Even if they can, if the plaintifss can come up with an alternate business practice that satisfies the employer's interests without resulting in a disparate impact, they lose. Good or bad, that's the law.

          • Re:Bias (Score:4, Interesting)

            by profplump (309017) <zach-slashjunk@kotlarek.com> on Thursday January 04, 2007 @06:42PM (#17466128)
            As I read it, Griggs v. Duke Power applies more specifically to selection requirements rather than ranking, but I guess I could see it made into an argument about the later if the proper context was presented.

            Still, "years of related work experience" is pretty easy to put into the "reasonable measure of job performance" bucket, and given that, the requirement of intent to discriminate against a protected group stands.
            • by general_re (8883)
              Congress expanded the doctrine in 1991 - I forget the title, but you can probably look it up to get a better idea of how it applies to hiring.
        • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

          by Threni (635302)
          > Except "people with less work experience" is not a protected group

          In the UK, after recent tightening of anti-agist discrimination, you need to make sure that you aren't going to get into trouble for asking for people with over n years experience, or similar.
          • by profplump (309017)
            That's true in the US too. You can't ask people when they graduated or other such things (no matter how useful or relevant they are) for fear that you'll be sued for age-based descrimination.
      • Re:Bias (Score:4, Interesting)

        by TheoMurpse (729043) on Thursday January 04, 2007 @08:58PM (#17467900) Homepage
        That's a disadvantage to women because they (generally) take time off to have/raise kids and so on, even though the algorithm isn't specifically designed to discriminate against them.
        Any good lawyer would counter this argument with, "If we allow women to take more time off between jobs, then we discriminate against men." This is why men are given paternity leave [wikipedia.org] now.
      • Re:Bias (Score:4, Funny)

        by sacrilicious (316896) on Thursday January 04, 2007 @10:13PM (#17468514) Homepage
        It depends how good their algorithm is - let's say it looks at what proportion of your life since graduating you've been in work, where more is better. That's a disadvantage to women because they (generally) take time off to have/raise kids and so on, even though the algorithm isn't specifically designed to discriminate against them.

        Damn! Even though I keep my gender a secret, they'll be able to tell I'm a woman because of gaps in my resume when I took time to be with the infants... krap, it was so nice thinking I was flying under the radar. Maybe I need to fill those gaps: "Dec97-Mar99, Lactation Dispensation Consultant".

        (ps - I *am* joking. And, I'm not really a woman... I'm really a horse. Well... I'm just pretending to be a horse... actually, I'm a broom.)

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by AuMatar (183847)
      Simple- don't have a question that asks about race, sex, etc. If the algorithm doesn't know it, it can't choose based on it.
      • Re:Bias (Score:4, Insightful)

        by Dunbal (464142) on Thursday January 04, 2007 @06:39PM (#17466090)
        If the algorithm doesn't know it, it can't choose based on it.

              Unless of course, as someone pointed out earlier, you have access to statistical and demographic data that lets your algorithm figure out religion, race, sex, etc indirectly from the answers with an acceptable margin of error, say +/- 3%?
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by FoXDie (853291)
      if (race.black() || gender.female()) {return 0;}
    • Re:Bias (Score:5, Interesting)

      by inviolet (797804) <slashdot@ideasma ... org minus distro> on Thursday January 04, 2007 @06:12PM (#17465650) Journal
      It will be interesting to see if any company using this technique ever get accused of racial,sexual etc bias.

      What if google's statistical data (drawn from its database of performance reviews) shows that some ages, genders, races, and cultures are objectively better at a particular job than others?

      Google's test will obviously avoid asking any direct questions about age, gender, and race, because that's illegal (even when objectively justifiable). However, if the test is powered by a statistics engine drawing a database of past performance reviews, then the test could unintentionally evolve to ask about such things indirectly.

      An example: perhaps cat-ownership is correllated with femaleness, and femaleness is correllated with superior performance in writing technical documentation. An automated test-generator would unwittingly evolve to ask applicants about cat-ownership, in order to unwittingly select superior female candidates.

      It's an amusing possibility. Indeed, it would be the free-market's way of legitimately selecting candidates based on age/gender/race while remaining underneath the legal radar.

      • Re:Bias (Score:5, Insightful)

        by yali (209015) on Thursday January 04, 2007 @07:27PM (#17466758)
        As you might guess, there is a whole tangle [hr-guide.com] of legal and ethical issues surrounding testing in personnel selection.

        My understanding (IANAL etc) is that you are supposed to assess only the skills, aptitude, etc. that you can defend as related to the job. If that happens to be correlated with sex, race, age, etc., the correlation is not a problem, but you cannot use those things as a proxy for what you're really interested in. For example, in a job that requires quick responses, you can test people's reaction times, but you cannot automatically exclude people based on age (even though age may be correlated with reaction time).

        More direct assessment is better anyway. Suppose you are hiring for a job that requires math skills, which you believe is correlated with gender, which you believe is correlated with cat ownership. Even if those correlations exist, you'd still get more accurate results measuring the math skills directly rather than measuring cat ownership which is correlated with something that is correlated with what you need.
      • Re:Bias (Score:4, Insightful)

        by GlassHeart (579618) on Thursday January 04, 2007 @07:34PM (#17466852) Journal
        What if google's statistical data (drawn from its database of performance reviews) shows that some ages, genders, races, and cultures are objectively better at a particular job than others?

        The law does not assume that there's no relationship between job performance and age/race/etc. What the law assumes is that the relationship is not causal. That is, just because you're over 50 you can't do the job, even if most 50-year olds really can't. Therefore, we protect the one 50-year old who could from unfair discrimination.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by zCyl (14362)

          What the law assumes is that the relationship is not causal. That is, just because you're over 50 you can't do the job, even if most 50-year olds really can't.

          I think what you mean to say, is that the law assumes the relationship is not universal. Even if a causal relationship is shown, the law still protects. For example, it's well known that there's a causal relationship which causes women (in general) to be unable to lift weights as heavy as average men can. But we also know this relationship is not u

      • On Balance (Score:3, Interesting)

        by NetSettler (460623) *

        Google's test will obviously avoid asking any direct questions about age, gender, and race, because that's illegal (even when objectively justifiable). However, if the test is powered by a statistics engine drawing a database of past performance reviews, then the test could unintentionally evolve to ask about such things indirectly.

        I can't believe they would deliberately make decisions on the basis of anything that was not obviously going to help them. First, they are a global corporation, so institu

    • Or the flip-side...could these statistical preferences be uncovered and gamed? Seems to me there is an army of SEO experts out there willing to try for a buck.

  • by Flimzy (657419) on Thursday January 04, 2007 @05:33PM (#17465046)
    Tomorrow Google online dating?
  • by LParks (927321) on Thursday January 04, 2007 @05:37PM (#17465096)
    Do you feel guilty when you masturbate?
    Do you enjoy harming animals?
  • by sootman (158191) on Thursday January 04, 2007 @05:38PM (#17465120) Homepage Journal
    Sounds like someone got one of these shirts [thinkgeek.com] for Christmas and took it to heart.
  • Only useful if... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Lead Butthead (321013) on Thursday January 04, 2007 @05:43PM (#17465224) Journal
    Applicant is honest in their response to the survey.
    • by Tackhead (54550)
      > Applicant is honest in their response to the survey.

      Not necessarily. If you get the perfect score, you get hired into the voigtkampf-beta.google.com programme.

      What they don't tell you is that you get hired as an interviewer. The light that burns twice as bright, burns only until it asks about your mother.

    • It's fairly easy to detect dishonestly in a fairly long survey. Just ask the same question multiple times with slightly different words use. If dissimilar answers are received on these questions, the person clearly can't keep their story straight, and is likely to be giving untruthful answers.
    • Reminds me of the story about timothy leary taking his own psychological tests when he was admitted to prison. He got away.
  • by odano (735445) on Thursday January 04, 2007 @05:45PM (#17465250)
    I was one of those people who was hired with the under 3.0 GPA, and while getting the interviews was difficult, the people doing the interviewing really didn't care. They asked me to solve problems and show that I could do the job, and that was all they cared about.

    Luckily for me I dont have to worry about it anymore, but especially in the technology field why should GPA be more important than actual projects and experience?
    • by panaceaa (205396) on Thursday January 04, 2007 @05:56PM (#17465410) Homepage Journal
      I've been working at Google for four months, and of all the companies I interviewed at, Google seemed to care the least about my past projects, experience, or my GPA. Google's interviewing process is all about finding very smart computer people. You simply must know the core computer science principles, but it does not matter if you were able to regurgitate them on your college exams. It matters that you can explain them in an interview and use them towards solving a problem. Once I got here, I can understand the reasoning behind the hiring process: Lots of Google infrastructure and technology is unique to Google. Look at the published articles on Bigtable and MapReduce to get a glimpse of the unique systems used every day here. For people to learn these systems and begin being productive quickly, Google doesn't care if you have an MSCE or know the syntax of Apache's httpd.conf. Google just needs you to be smart.

      note: These are my opinions and not necessarily those of Google's. And I try not to post on Google articles nowadays, but this doesn't pertain to our business strategy so I'm comfortable sharing it. BTW we had an awesome free lunch today here in Kirkland, Washington [blogspot.com]. :)
      • by panaceaa (205396)
        Reading back over my post, I'd like to revisit saying that Google doesn't care about past experience. I meant that it doesn't especially matter what technologies you worked with (e.g. .Net vs. J2EE vs. Lisp). But it's certainly a good thing for you to contribute to open source projects, run your own web sites and web applications, and participate in research projects. It's also great if you know languages outside the norm, like functional languages, Ruby, Python, etc. Just doing your studying or your jo
    • by Johannes (33283)
      Having been offered a job at Google with a sub 3.0 GPA (for the short time I was there), I can back up your claim that it's not required.

      However, it didn't stop them from holding it over my head during the interviewing process and negotiation.
    • by Duncan3 (10537)
      Nobody outside of academia cares about GPA. I've never been asked about mine, never asked anyone about theirs in the hiring I've done either. But Google is almost all academics, so they care.

      Lucky for us all, other academics have figured out that GPA is most strongly correlated as a past indicator of family income, not current or future intelligence. (Google for the studies, haha)

      Other companies care about what you have done, and what you can do. Experience and skills. Since the only thing Google did is pag
  • by vidarh (309115) <vidar@hokstad.com> on Thursday January 04, 2007 @05:48PM (#17465288) Homepage Journal
    It's easy to maintain a low turnover of staff as long as the vast majority of your staff isn't fully vested, and the stock is moving upwards. As soon as the growth in staff numbers slow down, though, you're going to see the turnover percentage increase significantly as a larger and larger percentage of staff have been there for the full 4 year vesting period of their options, and the company starts seeing pressure for lower refresher grants.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by vertinox (846076)
      It's easy to maintain a low turnover of staff as long as the vast majority of your staff isn't fully vested, and the stock is moving upwards.

      Huh? Most people don't try to get hired or stay at a job just because of stock options. It is a nice perk, but if a company treats you like crap or you feel what you are doing is not appreciated or useful in some way then you are going to quit regardless of how much money they throw at you.

      And if you are one of those people who stick around for the money even though yo
  • by hellfire (86129) <`deviladv' `at' `gmail.com'> on Thursday January 04, 2007 @05:48PM (#17465296) Homepage
    You can't hide bad questions behind an algorythm. The interview process has lots of laws around it now, and it's well established that there are only some questions you can ask. Here's a great example:

    The questions range from the age when applicants first got excited about computers...

    This question doesn't directly reveal your age, but a clever interviewer can glean much from it. "Oh, got excited in computers at 22, eh? Probably older than I thought. We don't want old employees we want young ones."

    It is illegal to ask some questions in an interview. Age related questions are one of them. You are only allowed to ask questions that pertain to your performance of the job at hand. For example, I can ask someone "would you have a problem lifting heavy boxes?" but I can't ask how old you are and make a judgement because you are 40 that you can't lift heavy boxes. The above question you as a logical geek might think is iffy, but to a lawyer, it's shark bait and they'll be all over it, so don't ask it. If you ask a question that falls into this category, you open yourself up to a gender/age/racial discrimination lawsuit. These and many others are protected classes under the law.

    And there's a great reason why an interview is a poor indicator of performance... because people lie!!! It's a sales process. They want your job, and you want the best candidate. Last two people I let go both gave great interviews, but when they actually worked, they sucked. They had all the right answers in the interview, but there is no escaping performance reviews.

    0% firing rate is impossible, as is 100% retention. 96% retention is a stellar figure, even for silicon valley. I think they should be pretty happy that number.
    • by Jerf (17166) on Thursday January 04, 2007 @06:00PM (#17465472) Journal
      Your post triggered an interesting thought process.

      Google knows AI and machine learning; even if they don't use it they'll have people who know about it.

      Suppose by asking certain questions, and doing some initial research and calibration, I can determine your age within two years with 97% certainty. Or marital status, or race, or any of the other protected categories. Have I broken the law? What if I don't actually do the computation? What if my computers do the computation but no human ever sees it? What if I do the computation and no human ever directly sees the result but the computer has enough power to say "No" to a hire in practice, thus still incorporating this potentially "forbidden knowledge" into the hiring decision?

      (After all, asking someone about their marital status may actually be less reliable in the end; I can easily imagine 1 out of 40 people lying about something like that, or their true age/race/etc. if asked.)

      This is extremely likely to be possible, and probably downright easy for Google, so this isn't just a hypothetical. And the problems this raises extends beyond this exact instance into any domain where for legal reasons, we have to cultivate ignorance; exactly what constitutes "ignorance" if you get right down to it?
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Jerf (17166)
        Oh, and for extra double-bonus points, "How will a lawyer representing someone who was turned down for a Google position react to these hypothetical questions?" and "How will a judge and/or jury react to the entire idea?"
      • by corbettw (214229)
        What if my computers do the computation but no human ever sees it?

        A human had to tell the computer that marriage is a factor to consider in the first place. That alone could be enough to open you up to a lawsuit.
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by Bugmaster (227959)
          But a human would never tell the computer to explicitly consider marriage. Instead, the computer would be trained (or, rather, train itself) to draw conclusions from all kinds of disparate data, which could amount to inferring whether the applicant is married or not. What happens then ?
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Jerf (17166)

          A human had to tell the computer that marriage is a factor to consider in the first place.

          Not in the way that you are most likely thinking of. It's difficult to express what I mean without much math, but basically, that 97% confidence/correlation would come from a statistical profile that would be 97% accurate at guessing, and at no point does that profile ever contain the actual knowledge of the marriage state... yet, an external viewer can only find a 3% variance between this statistical process and simpl

    • But at the same time, pre-employment psychological profiling is allowed in many states -- personality profiling, IQ tests and the like, so I think this system is comparable to using a psychological inventory -- especially if the raw answers are not kept for the people making the hiring decisions, but only the composite/scaled scores... I'm betting a legal team has had this run by them if Google's making it system-wide.
    • It is illegal to ask some questions in an interview. Age related questions are one of them. . . . If you ask a question that falls into this category, you open yourself up to a gender/age/racial discrimination lawsuit. These and many others are protected classes under the law.

      It seems to me that the problem here is the law, not their selection process. What business can it possibly be of anyone but the employers just how they choose to select (or reject) potential employees?

      Mind you, I think irrelevan

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by teal_ (53392)
        [1] To illustrate, consider age discrimination, which is Constitutionally required for certain political offices. Wouldn't you agree that it's a bit hypocritical for the government to forbit age discrimination to other employers while the practice remains one of its own fundamental employment rules?

        Good example. What about when you're hiring a receptionist though? You want to present a certain image for your company when clients come to visit. In other words, you want someone attractive and reasonably yo
  • I once had an interview for a largish organization in which I only spoke to the HR person (fair enough, he was presumably screening for the tech interview which would've followed). What made this interview notable was that he was largely questioning me on personality.

    At the time I thought it was kind of rude, really. What business is it of yours if I "consider myself an outgoing person"? After asing me a few preliminary questions he left the room and had me fill out responses on a computer program. I spec

    • It depends on the job of course. If I'm going to lock someone in the basement and have them watch machines all day then I don't really care if you're an outgoing person. Actually, I'd probably want an introvert because they'd be happier there than someone who liked human contact. But if the job involved managing others or dealing with customers, then I want somenoe who's outgoing, and the question is very relevant.
    • The company I currently work for does something that sounds similar: you're given a list of a few dozen (maybe 50-ish) adjectives, and asked to check the ones that you believe describe you. Then you're given an identical screen and asked to check the ones that you believe you should exhibit.

      When I was called in for the interview, they showed me the results of the survey, and I was astounded at how accurate a profile of my work personality they had come up with. It was almost frightening. Of course, as I ass
    • by Dunbal (464142) on Thursday January 04, 2007 @06:15PM (#17465686)
      What made this interview notable was that he was largely questioning me on personality.

            I don't have any sort of degree in HR, but I own a small health care company and do all the hiring myself. And I mostly ask very tough questions to gain insight into the other person's personality. How they view themselves. How they view the world. Why? Because it's all I really care about.

            If the come to the interview dressed like crap, they're automatically out. If they turn up late, they're automatically out. The resume is usually full of a lot of BS anyway - I check on the real important stuff - like - do they actually have the degrees they say they have.

            Letters of recommendation are usually from work buddies, after all, you're not going to ask the supervisor who hates your guts for a recommendation, you'll ask the other one who really likes you. So I'm left with personality - self esteem, self confidence, ability to take the time to LISTEN, and ability to adapt. It's kinda rough on the guys, but hey, an interview is an interview. I have my patients to protect. And I think I've done ok with this technique so far.
      • by AuMatar (183847)
        A lot of those are bad ways to hire

        1)Dressed like crap- unless they're in a customer facing role, how they dress does not improve performance. My code doesn't get written faster or higher quality if I'm in a suit rather than my Einstein tshirt. If anything, the fact the tshirt is more comfortable improves my mood. I actually dress down for interviews on purpose- to make sure I never take a job from someone who cares about trivialities like that.

        2)Resumes full of BS- if there's any BS on the resume thi
      • Sounds like you'll be very good at hiring salesmen (or con artists) but pretty much trusting to luck as far as hiring technically good people goes.

        And I think I've done ok with this technique so far.

        You may choose to think that, but the interesting question is: how do you know?

      • by Vellmont (569020) on Thursday January 04, 2007 @07:54PM (#17467120)

        If the come to the interview dressed like crap, they're automatically out. If they turn up late, they're automatically out.

        It's facinating to me the utter-crap voodoo that some people having in making hiring decisions. People like yourself actually believe there's these simple little tests that seperate the good from the bad.

        Did you ever consider that all you're doing is just trying to hire people like yourself? You may think that's a great way to seperate the good from the bad... but you may eventually discover that any workplace relies on a variety of people with different personalities, attitudes, and "views of the world". Hire too many people like yourself, and you might just wind up with a bunch of people that can't see outside of the box you've built. If you want a perfect example of this problem, look no further than the Bush administration.
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Dunbal (464142)
          People like yourself actually believe there's these simple little tests that seperate the good from the bad.

          Ok, so I should hire the guy who turns up 45 minutes late for the interview - whose excuse is "it could happen to anyone", who has a pierced eyebrow and orange hair, and who has no self esteem? Do you want this person touching your children? I work in health care, remember. Are you implying I should hire the first person who turns up for the job and not make any screening attempt
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by panaceaa (205396)
      I personally would not fill out a survey like that. While I'm fortunate to have a nice background of experience, so I can walk out of such an interview without feeling bad about it, there's other reasons for not filling out a questionnaire like that. For example, do you want to work at a company with so much process that hiring requires applicants not to show their ability to communicate clearly about relevant experience, but to fill out 100 question surveys? If they expect you to do them when they're no
      • Funnily enough, that's pretty much my reaction to that sort of recruitment process as well. I don't care if you're $BIG_NAME_EMPLOYER. I'm good at what I do, and plenty of good places to work will hire me in any moderately employee-friendly market. I have better things to do than jump through apparently pointless hoops for extended periods of time because one particular company is incapable of making a reasonably quick decision about its interviewees.

    • I don't mind them as long as they are asked by someone with a psychology degree (or maybe other credentials that show an ability to interpret the results) and the results are kept private. I've seen two things in recent years that disturb me greatly, however.

      The first was my experience at a technical college. The first day of class, we all took a personality test, given by a corporate psychologist with a B.A. in psych. We were not warned in any way that the results would not be private. Thus, on the first d
    • I'm not sure I'd be happy answering these questions at an interview either, but it sounded an awful lot like the Keirsey Temperment sorter (see http://www.advisorteam.org/instruments/KTS-II_ori g inal.html [advisorteam.org]) or a Meyers-Briggs (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Myers-Briggs_Type_Ind icator [wikipedia.org]) personality test. HR departments for large organizations often choose these because they are considered useful for organizational development. I personally am not sure if they really work!

      SixD
    • by zxnos (813588)
      ...by the end I was rather ... pissed...

      at the interview? damn you are hardcore, i usually wait until the 3rd or 4th week before i start drinking on the job...

  • Everyone knows that a growing company loses money, no? (ah, Dilbert!)

    10,000 employees??? What the heck are they doing? 20,000 employees next year? How the heck do they manage to coordinate anything??? Do they even -have- a corporate culture, or agenda?

    Lets see... 10,000 employees, on average, costing the corp ~$200k each... that's... $20 billion a year... in salaries/benefits/office space/etc. Are they even making that much? Are they paying their workers with ``profits'' from stock sales?

    Either their salari
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Atzanteol (99067)
      Why guess? They're a publicly [google.com] traded company.
    • by corbettw (214229)
      10,000 employees, on average, costing the corp ~$200k each

      Whoa, no wonder people want to work there!
    • by dirc (254647) on Thursday January 04, 2007 @07:18PM (#17466634) Homepage

      Lets see... 10,000 employees, on average, costing the corp ~$200k each... that's... $20 billion a year... in salaries/benefits/office space/etc. Are they even making that much? Are they paying their workers with ``profits'' from stock sales?


      10,000 employees at $200k each is $2 billion a year, not $20 billion a year. Google is making enough to cover those costs even if they double the number of employees and do not increase revenue at all. You can look at a summary of their revenue, and their expenses as a portion of revenue here: http://biz.yahoo.com/e/061108/goog10-q.html [yahoo.com]


      They are making a handsome profit.

  • 20,000 vs 200 x 100? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by cei (107343) on Thursday January 04, 2007 @06:05PM (#17465542) Homepage Journal
    At the height of the dotcom bubble, Bill Gross & Idealab! [idealab.com] had the philosophy that no company should have more than 100 employees. If your business model got above 100 employees, there was a high likelihood that you were better off dividing and spinning off other business units. (Don't know if they still preach that or not, but that was the thinking "back in the day.")

    I don't know that Google would be better served as two hundred smaller companies, but at the same time, it's hard to imagine managing 20,000 employees would be any easier.
    • by cowscows (103644) on Thursday January 04, 2007 @07:26PM (#17466746) Journal
      So would these guys propose that FedEx start a new company for every 100 of their delivery drivers? How about their warehouse workers? What about the mechanics who help maintain their vehicles? They'd have hundreds of companies, the logistics of all of that would be insane. Coordinating all of them together?

      I haven't read anything about their philosophy other than what you just shared, but it's hard to take seriously any sort of one-size-fits-all solution for something as broad as "all companies."

  • the code.. (Score:4, Funny)

    by Mogster (459037) on Thursday January 04, 2007 @06:31PM (#17465958)
    bool recommend = true;

    if (surveyResults == Evil())
            forwardResumeToMicrsoft(bool recommend);

    hire();
  • I'm a HUMAN BEING...


    No, really!


    -- (alms for the lameness filter)
  • ... I read that as (Steve) Jobs, figuring the Apple/Google relationship had gone sour and that Jobs had better not bend over in the shower to pick up the soap.

    I really am sick today (*atchoo*)
  • They could just flip a coin.

    This is the sort of thing that happens when a company has tons of money and can't figure out what to do with it all.
  • A telling comment: (Score:2, Insightful)

    by chris_mahan (256577)
    (last line of TFA)

    > "More and more in the time I've been here, we hire people based on experience as a proxy for what they can accomplish," he said. "Last week we hired six people who had below a 3.0 G.P.A."

    Arrrgh! It's like saying: "Last week we hired six people who weren't white."

    Augurs poorly for GOOG.
  • ..... After it concludes you won't fit in at Google:

    "I'm sorry Dave, I'm afraid I can't hire you."
  • Quality of hires (Score:2, Insightful)

    by teal_ (53392)
    I'm shocked that the company hasn't yet started to fade or lose its reputation as a congregation of geniuses, given that with all the reqs they're having to fill, they're bound to be hiring in a less discriminate fashion than they used to. Those new lesser employees in turn conduct interviews, which begets another batch of lesser employees, until eventually you hire just about anybody with a CS degree. Meanwhile, your founding geniuses cash out their millions and go live in Hawaii, leaving their jobs to b
  • The Dot-Bomb Trap (Score:4, Interesting)

    by rudy_wayne (414635) on Thursday January 04, 2007 @07:40PM (#17466920)
    "Google's vice president for people operations, sees no reason the company won't reach 20,000 by the end of the year. This will mean hiring something like 200 people a week, every week, all year."
    Google is falling into the same trap that has hurt so many companies. Right now, profits are high. The cash is rolling by the billions. As a result, nobody (in Google management) is questioning why they need to hire 200 people every week, nonstop for a year. There's plenty of money to pay everyone, so there isn't a problem.

    But eventually, profits will level off and then start to decline. Nothing goes up forever. And when the money gets tight, Google will suddenly realize that they've got a whole bunch of people that they don't really need.

The first Rotarian was the first man to call John the Baptist "Jack." -- H.L. Mencken

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