Google's Nontraditional Search for Intellectual Giants

Applicants May Beat a Path to the Googleplex, but Only the Smartest and Techiest Make it Inside

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Pepsi's approach to hiring and developing marketing talent has roots that are decades old. But what of today's younger companies-those that have come about in a new era of business and technology? How do they vet marketers? For a different perspective, look no further than that Mountain View, Calif., bastion of innovative thinking, Google.

Google doesn't follow any old B-school model for finding and developing its marketing wizards. This is an organization that doesn't even believe in CMOs; instead, a senior-executive committee reviews all marketing initiatives on a weekly basis. "I give a presentation to all new marketing hires, and I find that they have to leave a lot of their prehistoric ideas about advertising at the door," says Christopher Escher, director of creative services.

Of course, that can't happen until an applicant is in the door. While many fast-growing tech companies add staff at lightning speed, Google's hiring process is lengthy and complex. Although the company fields nearly 150,000 resumes a week, few candidates get invited to visit. There, they face a full day of interviews, where they can experience Google's dog-friendly, volleyball-loving corporate culture firsthand.

"Typically, we'll fly a candidate out here, and they'll meet with six or seven people over a day," says Judy Gilbert, director-staffing programs. "They'll meet the hiring manager, of course, but also a few peers and a few people who would be senior to them, but not direct supervisors. And every product-management candidate at Google meets with a software engineer."

Next comes the software: Every interviewer records his or her impressions in a software program, which analyzes the responses. A hiring committee then evaluates those results. "First, the committee addresses the obvious question of what problem this employee can help solve in the short term," she says. "But the second question-what can this person contribute to Google in the long haul?-is easy to overlook by the people closest to the hiring decision."

If the hiring committee views the candidate as positively as the interviewing committee does, the proposed offer is sent to an executive committee, which reviews potential hires each week. "It's not just a way for them to keep a tight rein over the growth of the company, but to keep them close to how the growth looks," Ms. Gilbert says. Finally, company founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin review offers each week. This executive gamut is designed to make sure Google is always hiring candidates who are intelligent and love tech. At Google, expect to be asked for your college grade point average-even if you're 50. Ditto technology. Most Google marketing hires have worked at tech companies, but Google also considers things like personal blogs.

"The people who do the best in marketing at Google are either those who have come of age in a web environment or who have developed a post-advertising sensibility," Mr. Escher says. "People with a mass-marketing sensibility-people who think 30-second spots are the answer to everything-don't do as well."

And of course, once hired, marketers are quickly steeped in the Google discipline of always putting the user first. "That means that at the end of any marketing interaction with Google, people have to come out of it smarter," he says. "We want people to have fun while they're being educated, but the fun can't be the driving force behind the marketing."
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