“On a scale of one to five, rate yourself as a software engineer.”
It seems like a regular interview question at first. But for Google’s Laszlo Bock, it can reveal more than you can imagine at a first glance. The senior vice president revealed in a NPR’s Hidden Brain podcast that he reads the answer to this simple question differently for men and women.
For Bock, the ideal answer to the question for men is a humble 4. He said: “That’s because men tend to overestimate their capabilities, on average. Men tend to be less self-aware, on average, as women. And for a man to say four was a signal — not the only one, but a signal — that this guy’s a little more self-aware, maybe he realizes he has something to learn, and that was positively correlated with success here.”
If the interviewee is a woman on the other hand, the ideal answer is 5. Bock explains “…because there is so much societal pressure on women to be self-effacing and humble and hang back and be modest, and wait till they’re certain rather than raising their hand at the first opportunity like men, on average, do — that if a woman says she’s a five, first of all, she’s probably going to have higher EQ and social perceptiveness on average. And second — she’s gonna be amazing! And, indeed, that’s what we see.”
You can listen to the rest of the podcast below;