Google Admits Asking Job Applicants Impossible Brainteasers Was Ego-Stroking "Waste Of Time"


In the past, admittance through the gates of Googleplex was no easy feat. In almost-Monty Python-esque style, interviewers required candidates to answer convoluted riddles to test potential candidates' worthiness.

Questions included such gems as "Why are manholes round?" and "How much should you charge to wash all the windows in Seattle?"

Though intended to be a quirky way to test if an employee could problem solve on their feet, the famous brainteasers proved to be a completely useless indictor of a candidate's skills and ability to perform on the job.

Google finally admitted it. And riddle me this. we probably could have told them that.

Google's attempt to enforce its, well, "Google-ness" in its hiring practices were more about proving how brainy the people at Google were, rather than trying to make sure that candidates had the most suitable skills for the job. Lazlo Bock, senior vice president of people operations, came clean in an interview with the New York Times and stated, "They don't predict anything. They serve primarily to make the interviewer feel smart."

We get it, the Google brand hinges on smartness, and not just smartness of any kind, but the sort that promotes innovation and creativity. It's how Google came to be the tech giant it is today.

While the Google brainteasers are clever, they were designed to make those who are stumped feel inferior. For the candidate, it leaves a feeling of "skill set and experience be damned, it all boils down to whether you can count how many golf balls fit in a school bus."

However, the thing about super-smartness is that it is only as useful as we make of it. Brilliance is a tool as much as it is a gift. The Google brainteasers are more akin to mental bar tricks; full of aggrandizing flourish but lacking in true substance. At the end of the night, nobody likes a show off.

Google plans to re-vamp their hiring process to focus more on over-arching problem-solving skills to make for a more comprehensive and standardized assessment. Hopefully it will open Google HR to a greater potential in candidates and a broader definition of worthiness. There are other ways to separate the wheat from the chaff.