How Google decides who to hire, and so can you

laszlo bock googleThere’s a reason everyone wants to work at Google. They solve hard problems, know how to hire and retain the brightest people, give them power and keep them happy. Though, for most people work is a means to an end: a way to make a buck.

It doesn’t have to be this way.

Work can be meaningful, inspiring, healthy; work can be fantastic. We all have good days and bad, but mostly we want to have days when we feel like we’re changing the world. This motivated Lazslo Bock, SVP of People Operations at Google to write Work Rules!, where he details how Google hires and retains the best of the best.

Because I’m fascinated by anything having to do with culture, I was pushed to read the book after listening to the interview below:

KPCB Partner John Doerr hosts a behind the scenes conversation with Laszlo Bock, SVP of People Operations at Google, on Work Rules!, which Doerr calls “the Best Business Book of the Year.” They cover topics ranging from the secret to Google’s success, to why you should take power away from your managers and pay less, and how work really can “suck less” for everyone.

I’ve just finished reading book, take power away from managers. Don’t trust your gut. Be open and transparent. These are just a few of the insights from Work Rules!

Here’s a quick 15 minute summary of the book on Blinkist.

How can you get a job at Google?

Though there are many insights on how Google’s hiring practices could make work better for everyone, one insight at the core of how Google hires, and all companies should embrace is: hiring is the most important thing any executive can do, but it shouldn’t be left to them to decide.

Rather, to avoid biases, Google hires in teams. But before getting into specifics, according to Bock, Google looks at four things:

  1. General Cognitive ability. Google doesn’t look at traditional signals like where you went to school, GPA, or titles you’ve had in the past. Google cares about how bright you are, how curious you are, how able to learn you are.
  2. Emergent Leadership. They don’t care about if you were captain of the football team, or President of the chess club. To Google, emergent leadership is the ability to see a problem, step in and help solve and just as importantly relinquish power.
  3. Googleyness. Google doesn’t look for people who are like them, rather they ask themselves the following questions: Are you humble? Conscientious? Are you able to learn? Do you bring something new to Google?
  4. Expertise in the job you are being hired for. This comes last because what matters is if you have what it takes to figure out how to solve problems in a novel way.

The gist of how Google decides who to hire is this: Google employs people “not for the knowledge they possess, but for the things they don’t know yet.”

In other words, curiosity.

Bottom line: Leaders set the stage for culture, and Google only employs the best of the best. This, I believe, is what every type of organization can takeaway and adopt from how Google decides who to hire.