December 13, 2012

How Google has changed job interviews....

Published: 13 December 2012 

Plato said...

"The discovery of the alphabet will create forgetfulness in the learners souls, because they will not use their memories; they will trust to the external written characters and not remember of themselves. You give your disciples not truth but only the semblance of truth; they will be heroes of many things, and will have learned nothing; they will appear to be omniscient and will generally know nothing."

I've been thinking about this lately as we search for a new web developer in Brisbane with a job listing on Seek.

Why is this quote relevant?

Good Question, I'll answer shortly.

The recruitment process

Our process involves reviewing the CVs myself. I'm an experienced coder with years doing exactly what we're looking for. I've also hired quite a few people over the years so we don't really need the expertise of a recruitment consultant.

First, I'll skim the CV looking for what we want, in this case "WordPress", experience and examples get highlighted. If no mention of what we're looking for is found they go in the "no" folder. This accounts for 43% of the CVs received. I guess Seek's simplified application process has to answer for some of those.... keyword driven alerts that mean people apply without reading our ad properly, if at all.

Later, when I have a batch to go through I'll review the CVs and call the candidates with a question or two and if they're good I'll ask them to interview there and then. Yes, if you're reading about our process and you only get one call... that is a good sign.

For most of the work we do we work on the basis that we need two interviews. One technical and specialist and one to look at the working arrangements, like the goals of the individual and how they align with the business plans and the ever important culture factor, will they fit in and have fun working here?

Again, why is this ancient quote relevant?

During my questions about the specialist area, i.e. WordPress, SEO or AdWords a common response throughout the initial phone conversations and interviews is that whatever knowledge isn't within the candidate doesn't matter because of course... they know how to use Google.

Oh. Okay.

So, because someone wrote down how to customise a WordPress website on a web page that you can find with Google then you consider yourself "qualified" enough to apply for a job where this is a central requirement?

In the technical interview I'm able to find out where people's skills break down by asking more and more complex questions. There comes a point where the questions are getting too advanced or they know more than me. When they know more than me I get very excited as I can learn and potentially hire someone awesome.

Knowledge and productivity

I love the idea that we could all be like Neo from The Matrix. We could just install knowledge...

Neo: "I know Kung-Fu"
Morpheus: "Show me"

Externalising knowledge.... writing it down on a web page is (obviously) a great thing. Everyone here does it all the time.

We've recently lost, yes I mean lost, a couple of excellent members of staff to other agencies. I'm *gutted* to lose excellent people but I take it as a compliment. In the time they've spent with us the team-member has been able to learn, implement and display awesome skills that have got them noticed in at least one case by international superstars. When someone like that leaves we all ensure the investment in knowledge stays with the Matter Solutions team.

Internalising Knowledge

It is a great skill to be able to find information online but this is just a basic requirement for anyone working in a modern office, especially in digital marketing.

I'm far more impressed when someone realises that taking that knowledge in so they don't need to Google is the key to constantly improving and reaching your potential for your employer and their clients.

Web Developer Job Closing Soon

We're close to final interviews now so if you're interested in being a Web Developer with Matter Solutions hurry up and get your CV to us.

What do you think?

Do you run a business, in Brisbane or beyond, do your employees rely on Google for knowledge?

Are you a new graduate? Are you taught to retain what you're Googling?

Ben Maden

Read more posts by Ben

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