Skip to contentSkip to navigation

Best of Multimedia: What Airports and Alleys Can Tell You about Prospective Employees

In this HBR IdeaCast, the authors of “How Google Works” reveal their personal approaches to recruiting top-notch talent.

After being stuck with one of your colleagues in the LAX airport for six hours, would you still find her interesting? Would you even like her anymore?

The “LAX test,” says Google’s executive chairman Eric Schmidt in this HBR IdeaCast, is the ultimate trial run for prospective employees. “[T]he principle is, can they hold your interest? Are they creative or interesting? Or do they have insight? And if they don’t, I just don’t think you should be hiring them.”

Jonathan Rosenberg, former senior vice president of products at Google and coauthor with Schmidt of How Google Works, has his own litmus test: the passion detector. Rosenberg likes to ask potential hires about a project they’ve worked on—focusing on the “blind alleys” they went down, and why they changed what they changed. “You couldn’t answer that question for somebody else’s product,” he says. “You could answer it for yours. And if you went through four or five different iterations, then clearly, you were passionate.”

How to identify top talent is just one of the topics Rosenberg and Schmidt cover—you can catch their podcast in its entirety here. (And for Schmidt’s lighter side, don’t miss his interview with Stephen Colbert.)

How Google Manages Talent

Charity Delich

Charity J. Delich is the marketing & public relations manager of strategy+business.

Get s+b's award-winning newsletter delivered to your inbox. Sign up No, thanks
Illustration of flying birds delivering information
Get the newsletter

Sign up now to get our top insights on business strategy and management trends, delivered straight to your inbox twice a week.