I've never been in a position to make hiring decisions. However, I've helped evaluate and make recommendations to the people who did make hiring decisions. Mostly this was in the form of faculty hires while I was a graduate student. Each candidate would visit the campus for two days, during which they would make several presentations and meet with all of the faculty, staff, and students - including an hour lunch with the graduate students as a group. Afterward, we would meet again to discuss our impressions in detail, rank them in order, and write an organized recommendation to the department director.
In that same spirit, here's my thoughts on the candidates for U.S. president, based mainly on the AtGoogleTalks Youtube videos.
By and large, all of the Democrats say the same things. The difference, therefore, is in how they say it and how they treat the people they're saying it to. So the following comments are mainly impressions of who they are as people.
4. John Edwards
He talks a lot without saying anything. Moreover, he has no respect for the audience - arrogant, dismissive, and pandering all at the same time. As far as he's concerned, they're there to watch him and Google's VP put on a show while they watch passively, and he underestimates their intelligence and interest in detailed facts - even after the VP specifically tells him otherwise.
The body language also bothered me throughout. I'm not great at interpreting it as a general rule, but one thing I've learned is that too much chin stroking and mouth covering is bad - it means BSing, hiding of things, and outright lies.
It's possible that he's accustomed to standard televised debates and just didn't adapt well to Google's informal interview approach. Nearly everything he said was a sound bite. Even so, an inability to adapt is also detracting.
3. Hillary Clinton
She has some good ideas on how to do things, and puts importance on a lot of the same concerns that I do. Has a good grasp on details and developed good rapport with the audience. However, she's a little too slick about saying all of the right things at the right times. It makes me wonder what's getting smoothed over.
I'd find her acceptable as a president, but she wouldn't be my first choice.
2. Barack Obama
He's a man with a vision and a lot of passion. He lacks the smooth polish that Clinton has, and is prone to stuttering when he's not giving a prepared speech - but that also makes him more real.
Overall he feels like a fresh change of pace after nearly a decade of USian decline to the world, and out of all the candidates he strikes me as the one that can actually reinvent us - not just fix us - and put us back to being a respectable nation.
1. Bill Richardson
He would've been my first choice if he hadn't dropped out of the race, as he's the most qualified candidate for the job. He has all of the experience and knowledge of running a state, including the whole conundrum with illegal immigrants. For foreign policy: hostile foreign governments ask to negotiate with him by name.
The two things that most impressed me about him:
a) He can say "I don't know" when he doesn't know.
b) When he wanted to collect the email address of the woman who'd asked the question he couldn't answer, he directed his aide to go to her, not make her go to them.
Little gestures of respect, done casually without great deliberation, say a whole lot about the kind of person someone is.
Overall, I wish we could combine Richardson and Obama. It would be totally awesome if Obama won the primaries and Richardson agreed to be the VP candidate - but as far as I'm aware, Richardson plans to go back to running his beloved state. Which also speaks highly of him, because that's where his attention really should be.
So far there have only been two Republican candidates to visit Google.
2. Ron Paul
I've talked about him before. He's a Libertarian. I'm very libertarian. When it comes to individual personal liberties, we agree. However, he thinks that those same liberties should be extended to businesses.
Businesses aren't people and aren't driven by the same motives. People are mainly interested in raising healthy, happy families. Businesses are mainly interested in making money - maximizing profits and minimizing expenses; given free rein, they will attempt to do so by any means available to them if they can get away with it, such as shafting their employees, shortcutting product and service quality, overcharging, backstabbing their competitors, etc. Successful lying, cheating, and stealing are considered good from a business standpoint. For that reason, I find his ideas about free markets rather frightening.
1. John McCain
I've talked about him before, too. The fundamental underpinnings of his political philosophy all derive from being a Christian who wants to advance the American Way to the unwashed masses. However, from those premises, what he actually wants to do is largely the same as how I would want to proceed.
Given those two choices, I'd have to go for McCain over Paul. But I'd rather have a Democrat.