So, you want to work for Google, eh? You’ve heard about their high pay, amazing benefits and unique corporate culture and now you want in. Well, you are not alone. Google receives mountains of job applications; in fact, in one week alone they reported being sent over 75,000 of them. The question is, amid this stiff competition, how can you set yourself apart and land your dream job? What does Google look for in their potential new hires?

Here are seven things Google looks for in their employees:

1. Cognitive Ability Is Valued Above All Else

Cognitive ability does not mean IQ. Google is looking for those with the ability to learn new things. They want people who can process data on the fly and adapt quickly to new situations.

Google uses a carefully designed and meticulously tested behavioral interview process to assess a candidate’s cognitive abilities. To prepare for such an interview, consider doing some lateral thinking puzzles which force you to solve problems through outside-the-box thinking.

2. Emergent Leadership

Google values emergent leadership over traditional leadership. This means that they would rather see an example of where you took the lead on your own initiative, as opposed to hearing that you were class president or team leader. They want to see that you can take the lead without being assigned to fulfill such a role, and, almost more importantly, that you are okay with relinquishing that power when it is appropriate to do so. Google is very team-oriented, and in many ways eschews a typical employee hierarchy. They want people who can move in and out of leadership positions on the fly.

3. Humility

Google wants people who are confident in their abilities, but humble enough to know when to yield to a better idea. Lazlo Bock, Google’s senior vice president of people operations, put it this way: “You need a big ego and small ego in the same person at the same time.” You must be able to acknowledge and learn from your failures.

4. Ownership

Google wants employees who take ownership over the tasks they are assigned; those who are passionate about solving problems and pushing the company forward. They feel a sense of responsibility which drives them to overcome obstacles. In other words, they do not want people who view working for them as just a paycheck, they want people who see their work as an extension of themselves.

5. Expertise

According to Bock, while expertise is important, especially for more technical positions, it is actually the least important of the qualities that they look for in an ideal candidate. Often a so-called “expert” will, when presented with a problem, default to the way they have always done things, as opposed to trying new techniques. Google prefers those that can exhibit their expertise in innovative ways.

6. Accomplishments Beyond Your Degree

Bock stated that the “proportion of people without any college education at Google has increased over time.” In fact, on some Google teams, up to 14% of the members do not possess college degrees. He went on to add, “G.P.A.’s are worthless as a criteria for hiring, and test scores are worthless…We found that they don’t predict anything.”

Of course, none of this is to say that good grades and a relevant college degree are not valuable in landing a job at Google, especially since many positions there require advanced math, computing and coding skills. It is just to say that while these things are a great starting point, Google doesn’t believe that they tell the whole story.

 7. Show, Don’t Tell

Google wants to see what you can create. For example, If you are a programmer, you are more likely to get a job by showcasing your code itself than by listing off your impressive work history or industry certifications. They want to see clear examples of your proficiency, like an open source project that you contributed code to or an innovative approach you took to a challenging project. Ultimately, if you say you know how to do something, you’d better be prepared to back that up.

 

Google is looking beyond traditional qualifications and searching for those that know how to innovate, learn and work effectively within a team. If you think that you’ve got what it takes, then don’t hesitate to apply for your dream job. Even if your sights are set elsewhere, showcasing these qualities will help you to be a more attractive candidate in any job hunt.

 

 

Featured photo credit: Google Logo in Building43 / Robert Scoble via flickr.com

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