screenshot of Google Careers homepage
The New York Times has recently run a series of articles on how to get hired at Google. However, finding a job at Google is a years-long topic among multiple media outlets. Google’s Senior Vice President of People Operations, Lazlo Bock, has given quite a few interviews on how to stand out in the application process and how to fit Google’s desired criteria in the interview process.
Not interested in working for Google? Bock’s tips should be helpful to most college grads in their current career search.
- Learning along the way… and on the fly
From multiple sources: the work you do in college matters, both in and out of the classroom. Get a good GPA, for sure… while this doesn’t guarantee close to anything, the traditional metrics can rule you out to a certain degree. Google does pay attention to rigor, though. So, choosing an easy major with a good GPA will harm you compared to a lower GPA in a brutal cognitive field. [Of note, though, Lazlo Bock says that liberal arts degrees are still highly valued; there’s definitely a bit of balance here in the company’s interests.]
While a good GPA prevents harm and shows some entry level of field competency, what’s truly desired is the demonstration of learning on the fly. How committed are you to learning and how can you process new, sometimes disparate, information mid-project? Do you make creative jumps to get to a solution? Google’s famously different interviews have questions geared around just such ideas of life-learning and the ability to learn new perspectves [see sample Google interview questions here, although these aren’t used nearly as extensively as they once were].
From NY Times, How to Get a Job at Google: Most people think of this as ‘traditional leadership’–specific roles or how you climbed the ladder. What matters is how you lead on a team, how you support the team, how you step back and let others lead at the right time. “What’s critical to be an effective leader in [Google’s] environment is you have to be willing to relinquish power.”
- Be humble about your brain
From the Guardian: Google craves “intellectual humility.” Certain organizations thrive in environments wherein everyone’s learning something new and piecing it together. Know-it-alls and “experts” can often be bad fits for these environments, especially in learning possible new solutions to problems as a team.
- Be clever and active, but know your limits.
From multiple sources: One thing that can harm an organization is when people participate in areas in which they are incompetent. Google craves people with that burning desire to get involved, but seeks them from subset of people who are wise enough to not get involved when they cannot contribute positively or usefully to projects.
- Rewrite your Résumé:
From NY Times, How to Get a Job at Google, Part 2: “Frame your strengths as: ‘I accomplished X, relative to Y, by doing Z.’ Most people would write a résumé like this: ‘Wrote editorials for The New York Times.’ Better would be to say: ‘Had 50 op-eds published compared to average of 6 by most op-ed [writers] as a result of providing deep insight into the following area for three years.’ Most people don’t put the right content on their résumés.”
- Reframe your Value in Job Interviews:
From NY Times, How to Get a Job at Google, Part 2: “What you want to do is say: ‘Here’s the attribute I’m going to demonstrate; here’s the story demonstrating it; here’s how that story demonstrated that attribute.’ ” And here is how it can create value.
That last line, which was featured in various forms in multiple articles, is what many Google interviewers focus on. Moreover, it sums up many of the bullet points above. What are the real questions for any interview? Whether in a competency context or a historical context, interviewers are asking, ‘How are you of value in your skill, your fit, your approach, your learning, your leading, your problem-solving, your end product…?’ The more concretely the value can be demonstrated, the more convincing the interview and the higher likelihood of a job offer.