"Mr Robot, give me a job". That's what you'll need to sing using the air of "Mr. Sandman" to get a job at Google and other large companies pretty soon.

I found this article published in January in the New York Time burried deep in my Factiva feeds by cleaning up this week-end: Google Answer To Filling Jobs Is an Algorithm! In short:

Have you ever made a profit from a catering business or dog walking? Do you prefer to work alone or in groups? Have you ever set a world record in anything?

The right answers could help get you a job at Google.

Google has always wanted to hire people with straight-A report cards and double 800s on their SATs. Now, like an Ivy League school, it is starting to look for more well-rounded candidates, like those who have published books or started their own clubs.

Desperate to hire more engineers and sales representatives to staff its rapidly growing search and advertising business, Google -- in typical eccentric fashion -- has created an automated way to search for talent among the more than 100,000 job applications it receives each month. It is starting to ask job applicants to fill out an elaborate online survey that explores their attitudes, behavior, personality and biographical details going back to high school.

The questions range from the age when applicants first got excited about computers to whether they have ever tutored or ever established a nonprofit organization.

The answers are fed into a series of formulas created by Google's mathematicians that calculate a score -- from zero to 100 -- meant to predict how well a person will fit into its chaotic and competitive culture.

Sounds typical Google and quite a good idea. I must say I'd do the same if I was receiving 100,000 resume a month. I guess it's pretty common for tech companies to solve their own problems with their own solutions - we used to automate quite a lot at SafeLogic like the tools to write generic code, etc.

As Google also has a nice habit of making public some of their best internal products (like Gmail), here are my two cents:

  1. There is now a lot that you can use from Google as a SME to solve your common issues with online tools for free (Gmail, Calendar, Blogger, Maps, Adsense...)

  2. I wouldn't be surprised if their solution for CV/profile filtering evolved in a beta (of course, if you catch my drift) public product for recruiting to complement their suite of small business applications.
On that same note, Wired's Fred Vogelstein also digged an old (2005) interview from Google CEO Eric Schmidt (I wasn't the only one dusting over the week-end). It gives a great insight into this "build-it-yourself culture" which I think is typical of most tech ventures and is best exemplified by Google:

How did you convince [Larry and Sergey] that this (inviting other executives to Google, soliciting their management advice, and installing a more systematic approach to running the company) was agood idea?

I don't know. When I came here, I came because I liked Larry and Sergey. It was an interesting little company. I had no idea it would be successful. It was not broken. But we needed leadership.

For example, we had an accounting system which was an Intuit based system designed for five users, and they were using it for 20 people. It was too slow to use, so I suggested that they implement an Oracle system. It was a huge crisis. We ended up spending $100,000 for this. Larry and Sergey nearly had a cow over it (because they thought it was so expensive). A hundred thousand dollars is the cheapest Oracle system ever implemented in history I think.

How did you convince them that you needed to do this?

Well, it was actually very interesting. Larry and Sergey suggested that we should build our own, because most of the existing accounting systems weren't any good. And I said, "I'm sure that's true, but you'll never get it audited," And I thought that was a pretty clever argument. The auditors would never pass financials (generated out of software) that we built ourselves. And Larry and Sergey today will complain about the Oracle system, but they'll also say "We had to get one that was auditable."

I've always said that if the company were founded today on an empty lot, we would build the buildings brick by brick. We can't imagine someone else building our buildings, we'd have to build it ourselves. This is a build-it-yourself culture. The good news is there's no free land, and so we have to rent the buildings, rather than build them.But the culture is around building things.

(through Paul Kedroski's excellent blog)