Hi Reddit. I'm the guy who gets more than 3 million applications a year at Google. I think for too many people work sucks, and it doesn't have to. I wrote a book about how to make it better called "Work Rules!" AMA. Just not how many golf balls fit in a school bus....


Proof: https://twitter.com/LaszloBock2718/status/593128795265105920


Update: That was AWESOME! Thanks Redditors, for being so engaged ... and merciful. :) Hope to be back one day, if this was helpful!

Comments: 152 • Responses: 30  • Date: 

chickenxhat13 karma

Laszlo, I am a TVC (vendor, in this case) with Google, and currently work with logistics. I've made some great contacts within the company, working directly with the engineering teams in MTV.

I've been literally dreaming of working for Google for years, as I live in a small town with a growing Google data center. I'm afraid that while I'm doing great work for the company, my focus on supply chain and logistics limits my ability to organically move into a position with hardware operations, which has been my flavor of choice with regards to career path.

What suggestions do you have for a contractor struggling to find ways to make the leap toward full time employment with the company, given that there may be some prickly politics with such an attempt?

Thanks for your time!

Laszlo_Bock9 karma

I'm short on time here, but send me an email. Happy to help.

derdast8 karma

Damn, I'm a great fan of yours and saw on Linkedin that you would do an AMA and now I don't have a great question prepared but I will still try.

As I work in HR in Germany, what do you think generally about HR in Europe if you even look over the ocean?

Laszlo_Bock11 karma

Thanks!!! Some of my best friends are HR people in Europe. :) Mainly, keep pushing to use data to make good decisions. Too much of HR and management is about our gut instead of what we can prove.

rocksumos7 karma

Hi Laszlo! Thanks for doing this AmA. What would your advice be to a developer in their 40s who is interested in working for a company like Google, but concerned that they might be thought too old to be a good fit?

Laszlo_Bock24 karma

Google hires people of every age ... our oldest Googler is over 80! Best advice is to make clear the impact of your work. Basically, for all your accomplishments use the format "accomplished X by doing Y as measured by Z." Please apply!

runningraleigh6 karma

Hi Laszlo, thanks for making time for us today!

Google has been very effective at scaling quickly. My company is attempting to scale right now but we're running into issues with people being territorial and not sharing their knowledge. What advice would you have for someone who is worried that the new talent is going to usurp their long-standing authority?

Laszlo_Bock8 karma

On this one, it helps to be top down to set the tone. Either your top folks want an open company where everyone contributes (and increases the odds of success) or they want to be just like everyone else and the most talented people will leave. So, make clear that being territorial is not cool. When you see the behavior, call people on it, but assume good intent (maybe they were protecting some super confidential info or something ... who knows?). If the "information hoarders" don't open up, they should exit. Or the new talent will.

Might sound harsh, but whether you are open or not is a major culture-shaper. And toxic people have a disproportionately bad impact on the environment.

mets2336 karma

Hey Laszlo,

We're living in an interesting time where companies are beginning to treat their employees well. That being said, there's a fine line between being treated well and being spoiled. What are your thoughts on this? Giving great perks isn't as simple as just stocking candy; companies need to be mindful and strategic in the types of perks they launch on how they execute them.

Laszlo_Bock6 karma

Totally agree. It's important to have a rationale for the perks, explain the rationale to employees, and when things change be willing to get rid of perks. We used to give $5k to Googlers who bought hybrid cars. Then prices dropped and the cars became less "risky" and we got rid of it. Not popular, but the right thing.

nam20155 karma

Hi Laszlo, What is Google doing to promote more female in leadership positions and attract more female in technical roles?

Laszlo_Bock6 karma

Hi - similar to lborel's question ... only thing I'd add is that we have a number of programs that help advance and retain women in technical areas (e.g., nudges to self-nominate for promotion, better leave and return programs). We have mentorship/sponsorship programs, various employee resource groups focused on building community, etc. And our work on unconscious bias is a very big part of this -- it's not right to put the onus on groups that are underrepresented to make all the changes -- we all need to get better at this. More here: http://googleblog.blogspot.com/2014/09/you-dont-know-what-you-dont-know-how.html

Still lots to do ....

orangejulius5 karma

How would you recommend attorneys market themselves to work in industries outside of law at a place like Google?

The legal market is really saturated and attorneys who don't make it to big law often end up scraping by with an enormous amount of student debt. They're hard working, but often it seems employers view them as employees who would leave immediately to go practice law or something.

Laszlo_Bock8 karma

For most employers, it's tough because they look for specialized expertise. In my experience most people switching fields take a step back / pay cut. That said, look for something that's as adjacent as possible (e.g., policy, communications) and work from there. You can describe a lot of your legal experiences in ways that also highlight skills that are relevant to those fields.

For Google, apply for any job that looks good. We hire based on our assessment of problem solving, leadership, etc and care way, way less about what field you're coming from.

Hope that helps!

henceinfuture5 karma

How much of the application processing process is automated and how much of it is manual?

Laszlo_Bock8 karma

It's all manual. We've got a proprietary applicant tracking system, but we have something we like to call "human beings" that look at every one of the applications we get. We have used some testing and scoring to screen people in, on occasion, but only to make sure we were avoiding false negatives.

amitavasthi5 karma

Laszlo- Thanks for Work Rules. Amazed by the book and the learnings in it. One of the challenges Google faces is as it shift into new domains (telecom GoogleFi). How do you see existing talent from such large organizations adapting to Google when you hire them? A related question- Google is now becoming like multiple mini googles emerging out of different diverse businesses , what challenges you see with it in future?

Laszlo_Bock7 karma

I imagine culture as a continuum, not an absolute. Even when I joined Google in '06 there was a subtle but real difference between the sales and engineering cultures. For example, in eng you could (and still can) nominate yourself for promotion - not so in sales (though I'd love to change that). For talent from large orgs, it's about finding the people who are far enough on the continuum that they'll thrive here. But basically, I think people in general prefer a more open and free environment, so most people coming across seem happier.

jbarne4 karma

What type of organizations does Google work with to help bring diversity to their workforce? Are you involved with any like COSD (Career Opportunities for Students with Disabilities)? http://www.cosdonline.org/ (BTW love your book!)

Laszlo_Bock5 karma

We'll check COSD out - thanks for the suggestion! We partner with over 100 diversity-related organizations around the world. We've learned a lot, hired a lot, and with any luck helped a bit!

jeffspencer4 karma

I'm blown away by what I've read in Work Rules. Any chance Google will offer HR/people management as a service to startups in the future? ;)

Laszlo_Bock4 karma

Google Ventures (our VC arm) does that a bit for their portfolio companies. We're also more generally working to open source what we're doing ... there's an example here: http://www.google.com/events/rework/

But as a business ... unlikely. Too much work to do here at Google!

stevendeblieck3 karma

I'm a computer scientist who helps companies to understand behaviour and tap into it using technology.

What would you say is the biggest problem that HR managers have these days which they could solve with tech, but aren't solving it?

Laszlo_Bock7 karma

Better matching of people and jobs. Resumes are a bad signal. Companies don't know what predicts success. People are bad at interviewing. Tech could go a LONG way to solving this.

lasBRObok3 karma

Hi Laszlo - excellent actionable book. I'm about half way through, and actually had a question while reading today.....

You state that google has four main employee levels: individual contributor, manager, director, and VP.

What is a good ratio for each level as a % of the total employee count. What does a top heavy company look like?

Thanks for your help!

Laszlo_Bock4 karma

Great question and even better handle!

Depends on what you're trying to achieve and the kind of environment you want. For an open, creative org, the less top management you have, the better. We for years had a rule to keep things flat by mandating that a manager had to have a minimum of 7 direct reports to be a manager ... the 1 person managing 2 people managing 2 people stacks kill you.

lborel3 karma

What is Google doing to get more women in for interviews in the near term? I hear about lots of initiatives for girls, etc. out in the community, but not a word about actually hiring more women now.

Laszlo_Bock7 karma

We're doing more than we ever have, but still not as much as we hope to. We've got great partnerships with various groups like Anita Borg and have launched programs like CS First and Made with Code. And our recruiters have been VERY busy looking, especially on the engineering side. We've also increased the number of schools we recruit from (as we have almost every year), which should make a difference. We'll republish our diversity and representation statistics this summer, so stay tuned for more.

jbtokc3 karma

I know Google is all about analytics. What 3 little analytics lessons can smaller companies implement to help them hire great people and develop their current employees?

Laszlo_Bock5 karma

  1. Hire objectively (eg, have a hiring committee make the decision, not the manager; define job attributes up front and actually interview for them)
  2. Get rid of toxic people fast - even if it's expensive.
  3. Check out our Project Oxygen work - it's a checklist that automatically improves manager quality. http://www.nytimes.com/2011/03/13/business/13hire.html

kops2123 karma

Hi Laszlo! I just recently became a huge fan. You're awesome! Thank you for doing this.

My question: What do you see as the Holy Grail of HR? To elaborate - what is the number one objective an aspiring HR guru might want to seek? THE thing that would make a huge impact in the field of HR that we still haven't discovered, built or thought of.

By the way my background is in psychology - going for an MBA. I love it how you get the importance of actual valid data for example in recruiting. You're an example for all of us!

Laszlo_Bock6 karma

My Holy Grail is solving unemployment. I think there's an information asymmetry between individuals and employers that is solvable. And it would do a ton of good for the world. I suspect someone is out there working on it ...

J_Carro112 karma

Hello Mr. Bock,

In your mind what is the single most important feature Google is looking for when hiring? Looking forward to reading your book!

Laszlo_Bock10 karma

General cognitive ability (problem solving, ability to learn and integrate new information). If you've got that, you can be taught and/or figure out a lot of other things. Assessing GCA is also the 2nd-most predictive thing you can look for when hiring, according to decades of academic research on this. (#1 is a work sample test, but that's a much harder thing to engineer.)

beernerd2 karma

What is the best question for separating productive people from the slackers?

Laszlo_Bock7 karma

There's no best question - it's all about drilling down into the answer and verifying that the person actually did the work. The attribute underpinning productivity vs slacking is conscientiousness, which you can assess with structured interview questions. Also, references can actually help on this one - if the person isn't reported to be in the top 10%, move on.

gimgimno2 karma

I really enjoyed your book!

With many other companies following your lead in hiring for cultural fit ("Googleyness," in your case), how would you suggest a candidate demonstrate that trait in an interview setting? Should they lean towards being more relaxed rather than formal, or do your interviewers have controls in place to compensate for the formality of interviews in general?

Laszlo_Bock8 karma

At a lot of places "cultural fit" is about "is this candidate like me." At Google, it's a bit different - we want people who bring something new to the mix. And we specifically care about conscientiousness (work to completion, think like an owner, etc.) and intellectual humility (not regular humility - just the ability to admit you're wrong). So, for Google, don't worry about relaxed vs. formal. Just don't wear a suit. :)

Nicticattack2 karma

Hi Laszlo. I follow you on LinkedIn and read your articles and I am actually kind of a career fanatic, as weird as other people I know think that is.

My question for you is.. What would you say to people who are starting out in their career, love to do their job, and want to do big things with big ideas and rise up in the ranks to become a leader? How did you do it, and what advice would you give to people in that position? Thanks!

Laszlo_Bock5 karma

As a candidate I once totally blew an interview and when I could ask questions, I asked the interview, "what are your core values?" He said, "Always go above and beyond, because then they have no choice but to reward you." Trite, perhaps, but he recognized the implict and unfair power dynamic in many workplaces. So, go above and beyond, every time. It's the one thing you can control. Eventually, it will be recognized, either by your current employer or by the one who recruits you away.

mdlyman2 karma

Laszlo, Thanks for doing this. I'm going to be starting my MBA this fall with an emphasis in OB/HR. I'm highly interested in creating optimal work environments/cultures. What advice would you have for someone in my shoes looking to grow his/her career?

Laszlo_Bock6 karma

  1. Take statistics and/or operations. Most people in OB/HR (most people with MBAs, in fact) don't have a deep background in these areas, but they are essential for separating reality from opinion.
  2. Get exposed to lots of cultures - take tours, interview classmates, try a stint in consulting. It's important to really feel the difference yourself because you'll be a more compelling and credible advocate later

lvenos2 karma

Hi Laszlo! I am really enjoying your book (currently on page 277). I work at a large university with a solid mission but no mechanism to bring people from different units together to development/innovate. Therefore, all stellar mid-career professionals leave when they hit their glass ceiling. I am a career counselor (currently hitting the glass ceiling) and am developing a pitch to spearhead a "people and team development" initiative. I'm writing my own job description, outlining key programs (a lot of inspiration from Work Rules) but am trying to get this started WITHOUT the data that proves we need this. Everyone knows it, but there's no data. What would you recommend would push my proposition to the YES pile without spending a year gathering data?

Laszlo_Bock3 karma

I'm powerless without data!

j/k ... actually, you can still test things without data. Find the most friendly, supportive, hospitable place to try your program. It might not be the entire university, but you might get three departments to work together. Start small, show success, and build from there. If what you're doing works, others will see the success and (a) try to partner/emulate and/or (b) be jealous/try to block you. Spend more time with the (a) folks. And that then creates the "data" for future attempts.

wl0r3d02 karma

Hi, Laszlo,

Thank you for this opportunity!

Question: What advice do you have for an accounting student from a California State School to compete in the tech workforce with college grads from more prestigious schools like Stanford, Berkeley, and Northwestern?

Thank you! Wish we could meet one day!

Laszlo_Bock4 karma

GREAT question. Most employers still - in error - care about where you went to school, even though that doesn't predict success. I spoke to the head of an investment bank recently who said the hires they make from state schools do better than the ones from top tier (full disclosure: he was comparing hiring the top students at the former to average from the latter).

So, write a better resume. Not sure the decorum on reddit but I posted a bunch of articles about this on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/today/post/author/posts. Then highlight specific coursework that differentiates you (honors, hard classes, etc.).

bbekos2 karma

Hi Laszlo, thanks for doing this AMA! With that being said what is your advice for college students & recent college grads in finding a job/internship and standing out from the competition? Also what was the strangest interview you have ever had?


Laszlo_Bock4 karma

Check out my LinkedIn posts (in another question) on how to write your resume and interview - those are the biggest things you can do. Beyond that, as you network ask people for advice, not jobs. People don't often have jobs to give, but we all love giving advice. [sic]

Strangest interview: on an audition I was asked if I'd be willing to show my butt on camera. I was not, and didn't get the gig. I do not regret my decision.

[deleted]1 karma


Laszlo_Bock2 karma

I learned from him every day (and still do) ... some about persistence, some about solving problems, some about giving, and some about how to escape from a brutal chokehold. Biggest lesson: your brother is your best friend, no matter what.

gsaint241 karma

Hi Laszlo, thank you bringing the conversation back to people in this world of ever evolving technology. As a career talent acquisition professional, my question surrounds recruitment and its sustainability as a people run operation. Do you feel that an individual that desires to start a search firm or recruiting firm still has a place in the world of talent acquisition or has technology replaced this profession? Looking forward to reading your book!

Laszlo_Bock2 karma

Yes, absolutely. Maybe less so in 10 years. Depends on how the tech evolves. But there will always be need for great recruiters who know how to cultivate someone over time and find a candidate on that one day they're open to recruitment.

blackhatlinux1 karma

What is the criteria to work at Google as a software engineer/developer? Also, what is like to deal with people as an SVP? Laslty, how does google cope with competition, such as Microsoft?

It's pretty nice to meet you, considering I enjoy many google things, especially android development, and seeing a people person in google diversifies everything.

Laszlo_Bock2 karma

Wow - lot of questions! For SWE/dev, have a broad fundamental understanding of CS so that you can work across many products throughout your career.

blackhatlinux1 karma

I have one more question that I should've added: for those that are not really motivated, would reading your book, perhaps, give them motivation in some sense? Thanks for the reply though.

Edit: changed stuff

Laszlo_Bock1 karma

I hope so!

Nathan23210 karma


1) What advice would you give to a law and social work grad starting off in an HR rotational leadership program -- any particular divisions within HR that you would recommend getting exposure to?

2) What areas within big tec/HR do you see as most important and most relevant in the years ahead.

Thanks, boss! Loving the book WORK RULES!!! LAZLO4LIFE!

Laszlo_Bock1 karma

Get exposure in compensation or analytics - important to differentiate yourself in the labor marketplace and most HR people don't rotate through those fields.

Just ran out of time ... thanks for the love!!!!!

ormalali0 karma

Hello Mr. Bock. Thanks for this opportunity to pick your brain. The book was great.

I will be speaking with Ms. Rebecca Cotton about some of her insight. Any recommendation on a good ice breaker with her?

Laszlo_Bock1 karma

Ask her about the Career Guru program she started ... and why she made me downplay the fact that she really did create it so that the credit could be shared. :)