Does Google's Hiring Process Put Off Talented Applicants?


I was contacted by a Google recruiter the other day - and I turned them down without a second thought. Part of the reason is that I'm happy in my current role (hi boss!) - and another part is that last year Google deleted me.

But perhaps the biggest reason is Google's awful reputation when it comes to hiring.

Google's attitude seems to be similar to that of a top-flight university. It knows it only wants the best-of-breed and is acutely aware that there are thousands of qualified people vying for each job. So it feels like it can treat job applicants like shit.

Every time I've applied for a "normal" (i.e. non-Google) job, it has been a stressful experience. Booking half a day off work for an interview, waiting a few anxious weeks for confirmation, anguished discussions with friends and family. If you're lucky it all pays off and you get to have an uncomfortable conversation with your current boss, followed by three months of frosty relationships with your current colleagues before you leave.

Not the most pleasant process in the world. And that's with companies with great hiring policies.

Google's stature in the industry is legendary. Who wouldn't want all those free meals, funky offices, and awesome projects to work on? But the flip side is a downright hostile hiring process which - as the recruiter intimated to me - could last up to six months.

Things move quickly around here. At Internet speed. That means we have to be nimble, both in how we work and how we hire.

Anecdotally, I've had friends recently who've quit the interview process after the sixth interview failed to produce a conclusive result and they were asked to attend a seventh.

Can you imagine walking in to your office every day for six months knowing that today might be the day when Google recruiters unexpectedly stop returning your calls? Or that you'll have to suddenly have to take some annual leave to spend the whole day being interviewed by people you won't be working with?

How the does Google expect to be innovative if it takes them 6 months to hire someone on a 3 month notice period? How much does the industry change in the year it takes to hire someone and get them up to speed?

I know Google is changing how it hires (and has been pledging to do so for ages), and I think that's great. I'm sure there are plenty of smart people who would be an asset to Google - but feel that the long winded and overly bureaucratic hiring process is just too brutal to put themselves through.

Six months of stress and half a dozen interviews, all for the chance to fail fast?
I don't feel lucky at all.

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One thought on “Does Google's Hiring Process Put Off Talented Applicants?

  1. As anecdote to match your story; when I last looked for a job, a Google recruiter got in touch, and we agreed that he'd set up a telephone interview.

    In the gap between that agreement and the recruiter getting back in touch to set a date, I'd had phone interview and all the in-person interview rounds at Facebook. I never did do the Google phone interview; in the delay between agreeing a date and reaching the agreed date, I'd accepted a good offer at Facebook.

    So, adding to your point about "six months of stress"; I was actively hunting for a job, and willing to accept the stress of the Google process, but a competitor swooped in, ran their process at a scary fast rate, and had me signing the contract in less time than it took Google to get to a phone interview.

    That's a recipe for only ever getting people who are willing to turn down other (equivalent) jobs for the chance of a Google job offer - the best candidates who are flexible on choice of employer go elsewhere, where the hiring process is optimized to fail fast.

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