Here's What Google Really Looks for When It's Hiring

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Feb. 24 2014 11:27 AM

Here's What Google Really Looks for When It's Hiring

152807965-visitor-writes-on-a-chalkboard-on-september-26-2012-at
A visitor writes on a chalkboard at Google's office in Berlin, Germany.

Photo by Adam Berry/Getty Images

This post originally appeared in Business Insider.

If you're trying to get hired at Google, don't bother bragging about your GPA.

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Laszlo Bock, Google's senior vice president of people operations, told the New York Times that the company looks far beyond grades. (Google is actually hiring more and more people who never went to college.)

What does it take to impress a Googler?

Bock says that the No. 1 thing that the company looks for is not I.Q. but learning ability. Candidates need to be able to process things "on the fly" and draw conclusions from seemingly unconnected info.  

They also need to be "emergent" leaders. Google isn't necessarily looking for the president of the chess club. It's looking for people who know when to lead and when to follow. 

"What’s critical to be an effective leader in this environment is you have to be willing to relinquish power," he says. 

Humility and ownership are two other big pieces of the puzzle. Bock wants Google employees to feel a sense of responsibility and ownership that will make them step in and try to solve any problem. But they also need the humility to embrace the better ideas of others. There needs to be the right mix of confidence and adaptability.  

"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,' " Bock says. "You need a big ego and small ego in the same person at the same time."

Finally, Bock says that Google doesn't care about expertise. Experts will respond to problems with the same solutions they've seen work a million times. A nonexpert will mess up occasionally, but usually they'll come up with the same answer. And once in a while they'll come up with something that is completely new. That's how innovation happens. 

Jillian D'Onfro is a tech writer at Business Insider. Follow her on Twitter.

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