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Advice for Job-switchers and Newbies from Google’s Hiring Chief

Google HR chief Laszlo Bock has been just about everywhere lately, promoting his book on the extremely data-focused approach to hiring and management he has created at the search and tech giant. His team’s research has helped the company stop asking older candidates for GPA and test scores, and determined that the optimal number of interviews is only four.

His latest venue was a Reddit AMA this week, where Bock offered some valuable and specific tips for employers, older applicants and job-switching lawyers.

For over-40 engineers

Google employees tend to be on the young side, but Bock had some encouragement and a word of advice for an over-40 developer that should apply to everyone: Always phrase your accomplishments in a very specific way.

Google hires people of every age … our oldest Googler is over 80! Best advice is to make clear the impact of your work. Basically, for all your accomplishments use the format “accomplished X by doing Y as measured by Z.” Please apply!

The best possible interview question

It turns out there isn’t one, something Bock is still trying to teach employees who rely on Google’s infamous and officially discouraged “brainteasers”:

There’s no best ...

Wearing a Suit Makes People Think Differently

Some psychology research in recent years is making an old aphorism look like an incomplete thought: Clothes make the man… Yes? Go on?

Clothes, it appears, make the man perceive the world differently.

new study looks specifically at how formal attire changes people's thought processes. “Putting on formal clothes makes us feel powerful, and that changes the basic way we see the world,” says Abraham Rutchick, an author of the study and a professor of psychology at California State University, Northridge. Rutchick and his co-authors found that wearing clothing that’s more formal than usual makes people think more broadly and holistically, rather than narrowly and about fine-grained details. In psychological parlance, wearing a suit encourages people to use abstract processing more readily than concrete processing.

Research on the effects of clothing on cognition remains in its early stages.Another similar study showed that when subjects wore a white coat that they believed belonged to a doctor, they became more attentive, an effect that didn’t hold when they believed the garment was a painter’s. But clothing’s psychological effects have been specified for only a couple of the ways the brain makes sense of stimuli.

That ...

Data Wonks vs. Performance Leaders

I’m a data wonk. I like to look at data, analyze data, use long division to compare data. I can probably get more information out of the morning’s box score than most of the 37,400 people who were at Fenway Park.

I do not, however, claim to know more than the professionals: the journalists who will report on all 162 games this season; the Sabermetricians employed by the two teams; the scouts for other teams who are watching every pitch; plus all of the semi-pro data wonks who follow baseball data seriously for fun. Indeed, some of them have invented their own statistics or their own way to analyze statistics created by others. And it all started with Bill James.

Not really. Baseball has been collecting data on games, and innings, and players for a long time—going back over a century. Henry Chadwick invented the box score in 1859.

These data, however, were not always instantaneously available. The morning newspaper had the box score for the previous night’s game, but the player’s batting average could be a day behind. During the depression, my father once explained to a sports reporter for The Washington Post ...

Can IGs Successfully Walk the Tightrope?

By law, inspectors general are given a great deal of independence from pressures from both their agencies and Congress. But to be effective, they need to develop positive relationships with both. Some are more effective than others. What makes the difference?

In January 2015, Michael Horowitz, chair of the cross-agency Council of Inspectors General on Integrity and Efficiency, highlighted “independence” as their most cherished attribute. But what steps can the IGs, agency heads and Congress take to make sure that the work of the IGs is not ignored? IGs must cultivate trust, confidence and respect in order to be listened to—but without surrendering their independence.

A new report for the IBM Center for The Business of Government by Charles Johnson, Kathryn Newcomer and Angela Allison identify best practices that strike this balance. They conducted confidential interviews with IGs, agency leaders and Hill staffers to develop some practical recommendations.

Inspectors general have an unusual role in government. They are granted a good deal of independence so they can fearlessly root out waste, fraud and abuse. In major agencies, they are appointed by the president and confirmed by the Senate. For the most part, they cannot be removed unless they have ...

Scarce Skills, not Scarce Jobs

At a large distribution center located north of Boston, a robot lifts a shelf holding merchandise and navigates it through the warehouse to the workstation of an employee who then picks the item needed for an order and places it in a shipping box. Incoming orders are processed by a computer that sends picking requests to sixty-nine robots. Then, the robots deliver storage units to roughly a hundred workers, saving the workers the task of walking through the warehouse to find the items. In other distribution centers, this is work that warehouse workers do.

The distribution center, run by Quiet Logistics—a company that fills orders for sellers of premium-branded apparel, is featured in the 60 Minutes episode “Are Robots Hurting Job Growth?” In the segment, Steve Kroft poses the following question to Bruce Welty, the CEO of Quiet Logistics: "If you had to replace the robots with people, how many people would you have to hire?" Welty estimates that he would have to hire one and a half people for every robot, and that the robots are saving him a lot of money.

Robots have long been a staple of science fiction. “Now they’re finally here,” Kroft tells ...