Rebels of Google: Softball Interviews for Ivy Leaguers and ‘Underrepresented Minorities’


A Google Research project indicating that underrepresented minorities and Ivy League graduates were more likely to receive softball interviews at the company was shut down by Google’s human resources department upon seeing the results, according to an insider.

The Google insider (alias “Chuck”), who worked at the company for several years, was part of a team tasked with determining which Google employees were most likely to succeed at the company based on their interview feedback.

According to Chuck, the predictive model they created determined that employees who received mixed feedback at the interview stage performed far better than those who received only good feedback.

Those who were most likely to receive only good feedback (“inflated interview scores,” in the words of Chuck) tended to be Ivy League graduates or underrepresented minorities. Those who were most likely to receive mixed feedback (and, according to the model, go on to achieve the most success at Google) were more likely to be white and Asian men who did not go to Ivy League schools.

The insider’s team had been tasked with the project by Google’s HR department, but according to him, they promptly shut it down once they realized its results would not serve their goals.

Chuck describes a frantic effort to recruit underrepresented minorities (i.e, people who are not white or Asian males). Underrepresented minorities, says Chuck, were given guaranteed phone interviews with Google.

According to him, this allowed Google to achieve any racial diversity quota they want by rejecting white & Asian males early in the process and assuming enough underrepresented minorities will be approved during the interview process.

The other bias Chuck witnessed at Google favored a very different group: graduates of elite Ivy League universities. Both groups have exclusive events and associations within Google.

Chuck describes Google as a “set of frat houses for Ivy Leaguers” in which non-Ivy Leaguers face a tougher interview process, and are denied many of the networking opportunities set up by Ivy League graduates. According to Chuck, Google recruiters divide schools into “Tier 1” schools (elite institutions) “Tier 2” schools (reputable schools with large numbers of underrepresented minorities) and schools that Google does not visit.

Type 2 schools, says Chuck, are only visited by Google for the purpose of obtaining interview candidates from underrepresented minorities.

Chuck says this has resulted in a massive class bias at Google. Despite working there for many years, he cannot recall a single white or Asian person in his entire department who was born to a middle-class family.

Chuck believes that the reason that white and Asian males from non-Ivy League schools do so well at Google is that they have to face a tougher interview process. On average, says Chuck, an employee who does not have the advantage of being either an Ivy Leaguer or an underrepresented minority is likely to be of a higher caliber than other candidates, as they alone are able to beat a recruiting system that’s biased against them.

Chuck says a common refrain at Google is that employees from state schools work harder than everyone else, but he disagrees: in a process that’s “massively biased” against them, he says, “only the strong survive.”

This article is part of the “Rebels of Google” series. Read the rest of the series here. 

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