Speaking on NPR’s Hidden Brain podcast, Laszlo Bock said the tech giant asks the same question to all software engineer candidates: “On a scale of one to five, rate yourself as a software engineer.”
According to the VP of people operations, the different ways men and women answer the question speaks volumes about their potential success at Google.
Bock maintains that men tend to overestimate their capabilities and be less self-aware, on average, then women so figure they say reflects their professional approach.
“For a man to say four was a signal — not the only one, but a signal — that this guy’s a little more self-aware, maybe he realises he has something to learn, and that was positively correlated with success here,” explained Bock.
While Bock says the best male candidates rate themselves as four, he says the best female employees generally come from those candidates who said five.
“If you’re a woman, however, the score that was most predictive was a five out of five,” he reveals. “Our hypothesis there was because there is so much societal pressure on women to be self-effacing and humble and hang back and be modest, and wait until they’re certain rather than raising their hand at the first opportunity like men, on average, do — that if a woman says she’s a five, first of all, she’s probably going to have higher EQ and social perceptiveness on average (…) and second — she’s going to be amazing! And, indeed, that’s what we see.”
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While HR departments around the world are striving for gender-neutral interview processes, Google’s head of HR has admitted he hopes men and women will answer the same question in different ways.