The Layover Test

cc licensed ( BY ) flickr photo shared by Satish Krishnamurthy

I recently saw the movie “The Internship” (which was a great movie in 2005), that had some funny moments, but actually shared a really cool practice done at Google when hiring new applicants called “The Layover Test”.  In an interview about the movie, Shawn Levy (the director) discussed the process:

It’s something they actually have in their interview process and it is at the end of the day, beyond what school the kid went to, beyond GPA, etc., who would you rather be stuck in an airport bar with on a six-hour flight delay?  They call it the layover test…So Google often accepts people employees and interns with kind of outside that Silicon Valley box way of thinking…

This made me think a lot about the way that we hire in education contrasted with the talking of being creative in the way that we teach school.

As a university student, I remember people in my class that were “average” in their marks, but were amazing teachers.  Yet when many of the jobs opened up, the students with the top marks in school would often get interviews and positions.  Seeing some of these candidates teach, they knew all of the right answers, but they had a lot of trouble relating to people.

When I ended up in administration, that memory stuck with me, so I wouldn’t even look at marks (other than that they graduated), and I would just talk to them.  I had a few questions, but I wanted my time spent with them to be a conversation.  It was more important to get to see how they interacted, as opposed to how they answered questions that often had a generic answer.  I guess at the time, I was trying to do a shortened version of the “layover” test.  Those “interviews” were an opportunity for me to not only learn about the candidate, but hopefully learn.  I wanted to hear some new ideas and grow from the experience as well.

Shouldn’t that we be the type of people that we want to hire? The one’s that push our thinking not the one’s that are able to recite it?


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