“Now, Google… founders have learned to say the right things in public about past practices (Sergey, for example, told me he regrets the seemingly haphazard way his company hired in the past few years…”
This is another key lesson on how you hire: You must always behave decently throughout the interview.
Often bigger, sometimes arrogant companies see themselves as hiring rather than recruiting, and get a sort of snotty “why should you be allowed to work here” attitute as opposed to remembering it’s a chance to enrich your company with talent.
My personal experience: I interviewed at a certain company and they made me so angry I not only declined to move the process further, I ended up at their competitor where I worked extremely hard– let’s say, with personal motivation– to create a viable alternative to their product. Which, thanks to the humble and talented people I worked with, as well as plenty of motivation, it definately is.
So an interview is not only a place to make friends, it’s a place to avoid making enemies.