Marc Andreessen, Ning cofounder and onetime Netscape cofounder, has started blogging. And hey—he’s real good. He should have been a writer (except he was smart enough to realize there’s no money in it). The posts are long but useful, and fun. In a post about how to hire the best people, he skewers the hiring screens of some companies such as Google and Microsoft, the latter famous for tossing logic puzzles at candidates:
For example, a classic Microsoft interview question was: “Why is a manhole cover round?”
The right answer, of course, is, “Who cares? Are we in the manhole business?”
(Followed by twisting in your chair to look all around, getting up, and leaving.)
Google, on the other hand, uses the metric of educational achievement.
Have a PhD? Front of the line. Masters? Next. Bachelor’s? Go to the end.
In apparent direct contraction to decades of experience in the computer industry that PhD’s are the hardest people to motivate to ship commercially viable products — with rare exception. (Hi, Tim! Hi, Diego!)
Now, on the one hand, you can’t question the level of success of either company.
Maybe they’re right.
But maybe, just maybe, their success had a lot to do with other factors — say, huge markets, extreme aggressiveness, right time/right place, key distribution deals, and at least in one case, great products.
Because here’s the problem: I’m not aware of another Microsoft that’s been built by hiring based on logic puzzles. And I’m not aware of another Google that’s been built by hiring PhD’s.