WANT to work at Google? Well, it’s not all about good grades, high IQs or even being successful.
Branded as the best company in the US to work for, Google is quirky, fun, and bouncing with creativity. That is why talent is clawing over each other to get through the door and arrive to work on a pogo stick. But it’s not the obvious candidates they are looking for.
In an interview with the New York Times , Google’s senior vice president of people operations, Laszlo Block revealed “there are five hiring attributes we have across the company” and what he is looking for from candidates.
1. It’s not all about being smart
Good grades certainly won’t harm your chances as many roles at Google require complex coding involving mathematical skills. But for other places within the organisation, it looks for a different take on smarts.
“The number one thing we look for is general cognitive ability, and it’s not IQ. It’s learning ability. It’s the ability to process on the fly. It’s the ability to pull together disparate bits of information. We assess that using structured behavioural interviews that we validate to make sure they’re predictive.”
Indoor bike track at Google’s Netherlands head office. Source: Supplied
2. Leadership. But not as you know it.
Don’t think you’ll need Braveheart-style leadership skills to work at Google. There is so much more to being a leader than simply boasting you were school captain or were the fastest person to become head of sales.
“What we care about is, when faced with a problem and you’re a member of a team, do you, at the appropriate time, step in and lead? And just as critically, do you step back and stop leading, do you let someone else? Because what’s critical to be an effective leader in this environment is you have to be willing to relinquish power.”
No ordinary office. Googlers get a climbing wall at the Colorado HQ. Source: Supplied
In an environment where there are many creative heads collaborating to keep Google innovating, candidates will need to have the ability to step back to allow others contribute. Even if it’s from the coffee boy.
“Your end goal is what can we do together to problem-solve? I’ve contributed my piece, and then I step back.”
And you’ll need to be able to allow your ideas to be panned. If you’re a hotshot graduate or big fish in your previous company and have never failed, this isn’t always ideal.
“Without humility, you are unable to learn. Successful, bright people rarely experience failure and so they don’t learn how to learn from that failure.”
Who needs a tea break? A bit of juggling and playing with your dog is Google’s way to recharge. Source: Supplied
This is closely tied into humility, as after being able to recognise and admit any errors, you need to take responsibility. You don’t blame problems on other people. What you shouldn’t do is “commit the fundamental attribution error, which is if something good happens, it’s because I’m a genius. If something bad happens, it’s because someone’s an idiot or I didn’t get the resources or the market moved”.
The other side to ownership is also making your case heard and arguing your point — but not being blinkered by bias.
“What we’ve seen is that the people who are the most successful here, who we want to hire, will have a fierce position. They’ll argue like hell. They’ll be zealots about their point of view. But then you say, ‘here’s a new fact,’ and they’ll go, ‘Oh, well, that changes things; you’re right.’ ”
Thinking hammocks. Homer Simpson was onto something. Source: Supplied
5. You don’t need to be an expert
Surprisingly, expertise is the least important attribute Google is looking for when hiring. Somebody who is green to a role or who hasn’t been doing it for years can offer up new perspectives and ideas.
What Google wants to do is “take somebody who has high cognitive ability, is innately curious, willing to learn and has emergent leadership skills”. Sure, you might mess up now and then but there’s “huge value” in those qualities.
Wheee! Google’s Zurich office has a slide. Yep. Source: Supplied