Ex-lawyer turned relationship coach

Hiring Is Not Hazing

A dozen grown men are standing in a line on the edge of a building. In their hands is a 30-pound cinder block that’s connected via string to their manhood.

“Do you trust that we’ve given you enough slack so your cinder block will safely land on the lawn?” screams the frat brother.

The frat brother continues, “If so, prepare to let go on the count of three. One, two, RELEASE!”

Thankfully, this initiation rite is fiction. But putting people through psychological abuse as part of an admission ritual is not.

Hazing is common in gangs, sports, schools—and also the office. 

How many golf balls can fit inside a 747?
How many gas stations are there in Manhattan?
If I shrank you to the size of a nickel and put you in a blender, how would you escape?

A handful of daunting questions Google famously used in its job interviews.

Questions that were also entirely irrelevant to the job.

Head of human resources, Laszlo Bock, said these brain teasers were terrible predictors of good employees.

“They don’t predict anything,” said Laszlo. “They serve primarily to make the interviewer feel smart.”

And the interviewee feel dumb.

The next hurdle Google placed in front of its applicants was the whiteboard.

“Show me on the whiteboard how you can find the median of two sorted arrays,” says the interviewer.

Miss a semicolon and you’re out. 

Again, this doesn’t resemble the work of most programmers at all. Rarely do you have to invent data structures from scratch. And when you do, you can find the answer on the web.

The most known way interviewers try to separate the wheat from the chaff is with soft questions.

“What’s your biggest weakness?” or “How would you resolve a disagreement with a colleague?”

Another meaningless barrier.

If the applicant get a soft question correct, all you know is they prepped for the interview. 

The internet is bursting with ‘correct’ answers. So what should be personal experiences turn into trivia questions.

Ultimately, you have no idea how they’ll handle the real situation.

In sum, interviews seem to be designed to drive the applicant into a corner. And if they can’t fight their way out, the interviewee gets crushed.

But the point of an interview is not to make someone look bad.

An interview should be held to figure out someone’s strengths and see if that intersects with what the company needs.

If that’s the goal, the solution is simple.

Whether it’s homework, an on-site tryout, portfolio review, or a mix—the candidate chooses what’s best for them.

Learn what your applicant is good at and you’ll know if you have a new star employee.

By Jeroen Elsing
Ex-lawyer turned relationship coach