Sunday, June 30, 2013

Do your hiring practices make sense? Google thinks not.

Google has concluded after some research that degrees, grades, GPA's and more are not predictive in hiring the best candidate.

Indeed, "Candidates' past academic performance wasn't predictive either, a stunning admission for a company that's notoriously stuffed to the gills with PhDs. "Google famously used to ask everyone for a transcript and G.P.A.'s and test scores, but we don't anymore, unless you're just a few years out of school," Bock said. "We found that they don't predict anything."

"In fact, Bock said, Google is increasingly hiring candidates who have no formal education, to the extent that you now see teams at the Chocolate Factory where 14 per cent of the team members have no college background."

The bottom line, he said, is that Google's earlier hiring practices simply weren't effective. When Google studied its employees' performance and compared it to how the same employees scored in interviews, there was no correlation. "We found zero relationship," Bock said. "It's a complete random mess."

Since Google is famously data-driven, I don't think we can dismiss these conclusions as outliers. Though it could be argued Google is a high-tech company and therefore not a reliable mirror of the economy as a whole, I think it is self-evident that Google is precisely the sort of company that we're telling college students they need a degree to work for.

Google found academic success has little correlation with performance in the workplace, and I suspect this is one result of higher education being increasingly disconnected from what I term the emerging economy--the parts of the economy that are growing and expanding, as opposed to those that are shrinking or declining.

In other words, if the ability to excel in the system of higher education does not generate an ability to excel in the emerging economy, then something is systemically wrong with higher education, which is supposed to prepare students for employment in the real world.

Given the wide acceptance of the correlation between high GPAs and future workplace performance, there is a second-order consequence of Google's insight: the vast majority of corporate human resource (HR) departments are actively hiring the wrong people for the wrong job, as they are essentially randomly matching people and jobs.

I think this disconnect between higher education and the emerging economy is simply part of a systemic (and widening) disconnect between the emerging economy and legacy systems designed for the society and economy that existed 60 or 100 years ago.

That Google is hiring more people without any degree suggests having a degree is no longer a signifier of much value to employers such as Google. We can speculate that people who learned on their own by following Emerson's mandate to "Do the thing and you shall have the power" may have more applicable (i.e. useful) experience as a result of their self-learning than people who submitted to four years of college.

Is there value in a general education? Of course. But can most or all of this material be learned online or on one's own? Yes.

We as a society have enormous sunk costs in monstrously costly legacy systems; these generational investments in the status quo have created institutional momentum, vast armies of vested interests and cultural habits that actively resist structural reform. Three of the largest such systems are healthcare, defense/national security and education.

One place to start an investigation of any legacy system is to ask: how would we design a replacement system from scratch? In the case of higher education, I think the first answer is: accredit the student, not the school. The second is to tie the curriculum and processes to what emerging-economy employers actually need.

If we think of the current higher-education system as a Factory Model (something I have written about for years) that took a small Elitist system designed for scholarship and expanded it to ramp up wartime production in a era of typed-on-paper orders and labor-intensive industries, we can understand the widening disconnect between the emerging economy and this legacy system.

Via Charles Hugh Smith, Of Two Minds

The source article is found here: