Want a job at Google? Internet giant reveals the 'five attributes' necessary for all employees

Do you own up to your mistakes? Do you make plenty of them? Then read on, because Google might be beating a path to your front door

They're renowned as some of the toughest interview questions in the business.

But, despite their legendary difficulty, the reason we love Google’s left-field posers for job applicants isn’t too hard to decode. After all, a job with the internet giant holds the promise of instant socio-economic advancement without any of the tedious grind, doesn't it?

It's certainly an alluring myth. All you need to do is say the right thing at the right time and voila, you will be instantly elevated from the lumpen non-Google-employed waster that currently greets you in the mirror each morning to a slickly dressed tech-enfused wunderkind hotly tipped for the governership of Venezuela once Project 'Goo' World Order really takes off.

Well, that would be the case if the internet giant didn’t keep on moving the damn goalposts. In a recent interview with the New York Times, Google's head of people Laszlo Bock revealed the five key “hiring attributes” that are necessary for employment with the big G. (Reports that these tenets were handed down from a mountain top in the form of an engraved stone tablet are unconfirmed).

If you were expecting Bock’s criteria to include the likes of ‘crazy brainy’, ‘mad coding skills yo’, or even ‘an intuitive understanding of moral relativity’, well, you wouldn’t even have got a foot in the front door of the Googleplex. See below for the list of must-haves and ask yourself, are you good enough? Really?

You don’t know much, but you can learn

Bock admits that while “good grades certainly don’t hurt” (and yes, this includes maths and coding qualifications) the main cognitive skill is “learning ability”. Google doesn't want to know that you can survive in the specific and often artificial environment of a top university, they want you to be able to “process on the fly”. “It’s the ability to pull together disparate bits of information,” says Bock. “We assess that using structured behavioral interviews that we validate to make sure they’re predictive."

You know when to shut the hell up

When a problem arises, do you step in to take charge? Do you do this even when there isn’t a problem because you feel like no-one is paying attention to you? Have you been on The Apprentice? If you answered ‘yes’ to the last two then Google doesn’t want to hear about it. They say they want “emergent leadership as opposed to traditional leadership” and that means knowing when it’s appropriate to get involved. “What’s critical to be an effective leader in this environment is you have to be willing to relinquish power,” says Bock.

Mini golf on the roof? There are no handicaps working at Google.

You know when you’re beat

Hand in hand with shutting the hell up is shutting the hell up and embracing your betters. Bock describes the ideal employee’s “end goal” as knowing “what we can do together to problem-solve”. Humility and ownership are apparently the key things here. You should feel responsible enough to get involved but humble enough to step back. “I’ve contributed my piece, and then I step back,” says Bock.  

You’re oddly proud of your mistakes

Unsurprisingly, Google’s biggest hiring problem is that they’re bombarded by applications from “successful bright people”. This doesn’t sound like a bad thing but Bock says that these people “rarely experience failure, and so they don’t know how to learn from that failure”. Bock notes that such individuals “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.” What he wants instead is “intellectual humility” - owning up to your mistakes essentially.

Nap pods come standard issue at Google.

You’re no expert

And what’s the least important attribute for Google hires according to Bock? “Expertise”. This is because if an employee has all the characteristics listed above (the ability to learn, intellectual humility, emergent leadership, etc) then 99 per cent of the time, when faced with a problem, they’ll come up with the same answer as an expert. And for that final one per cent, they might say the wrong thing but they might also come up with something “totally new”. “And there is huge value in that,” says Bock.

News
Andy Murray with his girlfriend of nine years, Kim Sears who he has got engaged to
people

Tennis star is set to marry his long-term girlfriend, Kim Sears

News
people
Arts and Entertainment
Joel Edgerton, John Turturro and Christian Bale in Exodus: Gods and Kings
film Ridley Scott reveals truth behind casting decisions of Exodus
News
people
PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
Life and Style
ebooksA superb mix of recipes serving up the freshest of local produce in a delicious range of styles
Sport
footballArsenal 2 Borussia Dortmund 0: And they can still top the group
Arts and Entertainment
An unseen image of Kurt Cobain at home featured in the film 'Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck'
filmThe singers widow and former bandmates have approved project
News
Andy Murray with his girlfriend of nine years, Kim Sears who he has got engaged to
peopleWimbledon champion announces engagement to girlfriend Kim Sears
Arts and Entertainment
Jake Quickenden and Edwina Currie are joining the I'm A Celebrity...Get Me Out Of Here! camp
tv
Arts and Entertainment
George Mpanga has been shortlisted for the Critics’ Choice prize
music
News
Albert Camus (left) and Jean-Paul Sartre fell out in 1952 and did not speak again before Camus’s death
people
Arts and Entertainment
Roisin, James and Sanjay in the boardroom
tvReview: This week's failing project manager had to go
News
Ed Miliband visiting the Holocaust museum in Jerusalem. The Labour leader has spoken more openly of his heritage recently
newsAttacks on the Labour leader have coalesced around a sense that he is different, weird, a man apart. But are the barbs more sinister?
Arts and Entertainment
'Felfie' (2014) by Alison Jackson
photographyNew exhibition shows how female creatives are changing the way women are portrayed in advertising
News
i100
Life and Style
Fright night: the board game dates back to at least 1890
life
Environment
The vaquita is being killed by fishermen trying to catch the totoaba fish, which is prized in China
environmentJust 97 of the 'world's cutest' sea mammals remain
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Gadgets & Tech

    Argyll Scott International: Senior Business Analyst- Insurance

    Negotiable: Argyll Scott International: Senior Business Analyst - Insurance ...

    Recruitment Genius: Drupal Developer

    Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This consulting firm are searching for an Adva...

    Ashdown Group: IT Support Analyst

    £20000 - £26000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Desktop Support Analyst - Sutton, Su...

    Opilio Recruitment: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

    £15k - 18k per year + Benefits & OTE: Opilio Recruitment: Digital Media, Mob...

    Day In a Page

    Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

    Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

    It's in all our interests to look after servicemen and women who fall on hard times, say party leaders
    Millionaire Sol Campbell wades into wealthy backlash against Labour's mansion tax

    Sol Campbell cries foul at Labour's mansion tax

    The former England defender joins Myleene Klass, Griff Rhys Jones and Melvyn Bragg in criticising proposals
    Nicolas Sarkozy returns: The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?

    Sarkozy returns

    The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?
    Is the criticism of Ed Miliband a coded form of anti-Semitism?

    Is the criticism of Miliband anti-Semitic?

    Attacks on the Labour leader have coalesced around a sense that he is different, weird, a man apart. But is the criticism more sinister?
    Ouija boards are the must-have gift this Christmas, fuelled by a schlock horror film

    Ouija boards are the must-have festive gift

    Simon Usborne explores the appeal - and mysteries - of a century-old parlour game
    There's a Good Girl exhibition: How female creatives are changing the way women are portrayed in advertising

    In pictures: There's a Good Girl exhibition

    The new exhibition reveals how female creatives are changing the way women are portrayed in advertising
    UK firm Biscuiteers is giving cookies a makeover - from advent calendars to doll's houses

    UK firm Biscuiteers is giving cookies a makeover

    It worked with cupcakes, doughnuts and macarons so no wonder someone decided to revamp the humble biscuit
    Can SkySaga capture the Minecraft magic?

    Can SkySaga capture the Minecraft magic?

    It's no surprise that the building game born in Sweden in 2009 and now played by millions, has imitators keen to construct their own mega money-spinner
    The King's School is way ahead of the pack when it comes to using the latest classroom technology

    Staying connected: The King's School

    The school in Cambridgeshire is ahead of the pack when it comes to using the latest classroom technology. Richard Garner discovers how teachers and pupils stay connected
    Christmas 2014: 23 best women's perfumes

    Festively fragrant: the best women's perfumes

    Give a loved one a luxe fragrance this year or treat yourself to a sensual pick-me-up
    Arsenal vs Borussia Dortmund: Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain celebrates century with trademark display of speed and intuition

    Arsenal vs Borussia Dortmund

    The Ox celebrates century with trademark display of speed and intuition
    Billy Joe Saunders vs Chris Eubank Jnr: When two worlds collide

    When two worlds collide

    Traveller Billy Joe Saunders did not have a pampered public-school upbringing - unlike Saturday’s opponent Chris Eubank Jnr
    Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: Drifting and forgotten - turning lives around for ex-soldiers

    Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: Turning lives around for ex-soldiers

    Our partner charities help veterans on the brink – and get them back on their feet
    Putin’s far-right ambition: Think-tank reveals how Russian President is wooing – and funding – populist parties across Europe to gain influence in the EU

    Putin’s far-right ambition

    Think-tank reveals how Russian President is wooing – and funding – populist parties across Europe to gain influence in the EU
    Tove Jansson's Moominland: What was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?

    Escape to Moominland

    What was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?