Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Google uses IQ to hire

Google is famous for hiring people based on IQ tests, but they sure don't like to admit it. NY Times columnist Tom Friedman writes:
LAST June, in an interview with Adam Bryant of The Times, Laszlo Bock, the senior vice president of people operations for Google — i.e., the guy in charge of hiring for one of the world’s most successful companies — noted that Google had determined that “G.P.A.’s are worthless as a criteria for hiring, and test scores are worthless. ... We found that they don’t predict anything.” ...

“There are five hiring attributes we have across the company,” explained Bock.

“If it’s a technical role, we assess your coding ability, and half the roles in the company are technical roles. For every job, though, the No. 1 thing we look for is general cognitive ability, and it’s not I.Q. It’s learning ability. It’s the ability to process on the fly. It’s the ability to pull together disparate bits of information."
In other words, they hire based on IQ, as Sailer explains at the above link.

It is not only fashionable to deny IQ, people also human rationality. Paul Bloom writes The War on Reason
Scientists and philosophers argue that human beings are little more than puppets of their biochemistry. Here's why they're wrong.

Aristotle’s definition of man as a rational animal has recently taken quite a beating.

Part of the attack comes from neuroscience. Pretty, multicolored fMRI maps ...

Another attack on rationality comes from social psychology. Hundreds of studies now show that factors we’re unaware of influence how we think and act. ...
Some of those factors are genetic, and all human behavioral traits are heritable.

The New Atheists have have own attack on rationality. For the most part, they deny free will, claim that religious people are brainwashed, and assert all sorts of leftist political positions without any reasoned argument.

Update: A new book, The Son Also Rises: Surnames and the History of Social Mobility, by Gregory Clark, argues:
How much of our fate is tied to the status of our parents and grandparents? How much does this influence our children? More than we wish to believe. While it has been argued that rigid class structures have eroded in favor of greater social equality, The Son Also Rises proves that movement on the social ladder has changed little over eight centuries. ... The bad news is that much of our fate is predictable from lineage.
This has already generated controversy, with the Economist magazine saying it "may not be a racist book, but it certainly traffics in genetic determinism."

Update: Other employers are interested in IQ also. The WSJ now reports:
Stephen Robert Morse was a candidate for a communications job when the recruiter told him to be ready to discuss his SAT score in a coming interview.

Mr. Morse, 28 years old, said he was "shocked" that a potential boss would be interested in the results of a test he took more than a decade earlier. He passed on the opportunity.

Proving the adage that all of life is like high school, plenty of employers still care about a job candidate's SAT score. Consulting firms such as Bain & Co. and McKinsey & Co. and banks like Goldman Sachs Group Inc. ask new college recruits for their scores, while other companies request them even for senior sales and management hires, eliciting scores from job candidates in their 40s and 50s.
The SAT test used to be more of an IQ test, but it was changed out of fear that it was being used as an IQ test.

Update: An LA Times op-ed explains:
First, decades of quantitative research in the field of personnel psychology have shown that across fields of employment, measurements of "general cognitive ability" — which is another way of referring to the old-fashioned concept of intelligence or IQ — are consistently the best tools employers have to predict which new employees will wind up with the highest performance evaluations or the best career paths. We shouldn't rush to assume that Google, with its private data, has suddenly refuted all that work.

How could Google be seeing no correlation between IQ and performance in their company? For the same reason that, say, there is no correlation between height and scoring in pro basketball. The average NBA player is almost 6 feet 7 inches tall, which is taller than 99% of the U.S. adult male population. The NBA selects its players based on height already, and it selects people who are outliers. Those NBA players facing one another are almost all extremely tall, which means factors other than height explain scoring. But put a team of NBA players up against a random bunch of guys, and height will make all the difference.

In the social sciences, this is known as the problem of "range restriction."

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