More than two million people apply to work there annually, which basically means there are about 20 times as many applicants each year as there are actual employees, worldwide.
I've written before about things like why you have to use the X-Y-Z formula on your resume to apply successfully, but there are other key factors as well.
Now, it turns out that Google changed the definition of one of them more than two years ago -- in a way that was hardly noticed at all outside the company.
Writing at The Information, Nick Bastone broke the story. It has to do with a subtle change to the way Google assesses whether candidates possess an admittedly difficult-to-define and self-referential attribute: "Googleyness."
That word has always struck me as intentionally silly, but it basically functions as a single catch-all for an array of qualities--including things like "an ability to thrive in ambiguity, value feedback and challenge the status quo," as Bastone puts it.
But because it's so amorphous -- so "I know it when I see it" -- Google executives apparently concluded in 2017 that it was too easy for managers and hiring teams to interpret it all simply as "cultural fit."
That shortcut can in turn lead to hiring biases that contradict Google's stated commitments to diversity, or could potentially even violate law.
As a result, the company "quietly added language to an internal hiring guide that instructs employees to 'avoid confusing Googleyness with culture fit, which can leave room for bias,'" Bastone wrote.
So what does this mean for you, as someone hiring highly qualified employees?
I think first it means that if you want to emulate Google, you should hope to be aware of your biases, and control for them.
At the very least, implement a so-called "Rooney Rule" -- the NFL requirement that before any team can hire a head coach, it has to interview ethnic minority candidates for the job.
Second, it means thinking hard and often about your company culture. Once you grow to any significant scale, the only way you can truly have scalable impact as a leader is to shape culture, anyway.
Finally, I think it means communicating effectively among your team what you really think the most important attributes to recruit for really are.
Bastone writes that he talked with several Google employees who, two years after the changes to Googleyness, "were unaware of any clarification the company had made to the official definition."
If you make a change, but nobody really notices, then you haven't really changed anything.