One of the unlikely areas in which data science has played a role is employee management. New York Times has an informative interview with Laszlo Bock, an SVP at Google. (link).
Here's Bock on the famous brainteasers used in Google interviews:
On the hiring side, we found that brainteasers are a complete waste of time. How many golf balls can you fit into an airplane? How many gas stations in Manhattan? A complete waste of time. They don’t predict anything. They serve primarily to make the interviewer feel smart.
Many years ago, I joined a strategy consulting company after graduating from college. Consulting companies are also famous for using brainteasers in interviews. Microsoft, in those years, was the Big Daddy in tech, and they too were known for using brainteasers.
I always hated brainteasers and I swore never to use them. In addition to the reason given by Bock, the obvious problem is that the actual skills needed for most jobs do not correlate with solving brainteasers. Also, using brainteasers turns the interviews into a game of chance; you're differentiating between people who have heard of the question before and people who haven't.
And finally, some brainteasers are just plain devious. There was one that irked me and I can't recall the details now. The question was designed in such a way that if one systematically tackles the question, setting up equations with x, y, z, etc., one would miss the answer. The data were arranged in such a way that one would need to do tedious brute-force calculations to find the solution. If I am hiring a data analyst, I'd prefer the one who set up the equations, who demonstrate the ability to systematically break down a problem.
Another item of note from that interview is the following:
Twice a year, anybody who has a manager is surveyed on the manager’s qualities. We call it an upward feedback survey... Over the last three years, we’ve significantly improved the quality of people management at Google, measured by how happy people are with their managers.
This use of analytics is quite different from the above. This use is at the individual level, while the brainteasers analysis operate at the aggregate, corporate level. Also, the former looks backwards, and the latter looks forwards.
This upward feedback mechanism turns management into a popularity contest. My own experience is that many of the most productive managers are not well liked. This is similar to having students rate their professors or courses. Easy graders and easy courses often receive high grades, and boast happy students.
I'd hope managers at Google are evaluated based on other criteria also.