What Google looks for when hiring – hint: not good grades

I’ve just read about an interview with Laszlo Bock, head of hiring for Google. Here’s what they look for in candidates:

  • Cognitive ability – the ability to learn, to process on the fly, and to pull together disparate information
  • Emergent leadership – the ability to step up and lead when necessary and to step back when it’s best for others to lead
  • Ownership – taking responsibility for solving problems
  • Humility – the ability to step back and accept other people’s solutions and to learn from failure (rather than attribute it to shortcomings of others or lack of resources..)
  • Expertise – the least important of the five

Interesting things that aren’t on the list

  • Good grades
  • IQ
  • Traditional leadership (e.g. Captain of the Chess Club)

These are pretty good lists for anyone to use, and they’re not just intuited, they are data driven. Google being Google scores candidates on multiple dimensions and correlates the scores with performance on the job. Over time they have found that the criteria above are the best predictors of success post hire.