How to Get a Job at Google

    |   FEB. 22, 2014

MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif. – LAST June, in an interview with Adam Bryant of The Times, Laszlo Bock, the senior vice president of people operations for Google – i.e., the guy in charge of hiring for one of the world’s most successful companies – noted that Google had determined that “G.P.A.’s are worthless as a criteria for hiring, and test scores are worthless. … We found that they don’t predict anything.” He also noted that the “proportion of people without any college education at Google has increased over time” – now as high as 14 percent on some teams. At a time when many people are asking, “How’s my kid gonna get a job?” I thought it would be useful to visit Google and hear how Bock would answer.

Don’t get him wrong, Bock begins, “Good grades certainly don’t hurt.” Many jobs at Google require math, computing and coding skills, so if your good grades truly reflect skills in those areas that you can apply, it would be an advantage. But Google has its eyes on much more.

“There are five hiring attributes we have across the company,” explained Bock. “If it’s a technical role, we assess your coding ability, and half the roles in the company are technical roles.

For every job, though, the No. 1 thing we look for is general cognitive ability, and it’s not I.Q. It’s learning ability. It’s the ability to process on the fly. It’s the ability to pull together disparate bits of information. We assess that using structured behavioral interviews that we validate to make sure they’re predictive.”

The second, he added, “is leadership – in particular emergent leadership as opposed to traditional leadership. Traditional leadership is, were you president of the chess club? Were you vice president of sales? How quickly did you get there? We don’t care. What we care about is, when faced with a problem and you’re a member of a team, do you, at the appropriate time, step in and lead. And just as critically, do you step back and stop leading, do you let someone else? Because what’s critical to be an effective leader in this environment is you have to be willing to relinquish power.”

What else? Humility and ownership. “It’s feeling the sense of responsibility, the sense of ownership, to step in,” he said, to try to solve any problem – and the humility to step back and embrace the better ideas of others. “Your end goal,” explained Bock, “is what can we do together to problem-solve. I’ve contributed my piece, and then I step back.”

And it is not just humility in creating space for others to contribute, says Bock, it’s “intellectual humility. Without humility, you are unable to learn.” It is why research shows that many graduates from hotshot business schools plateau.

“Successful bright people rarely experience failure, and so they don’t learn how to learn from that failure,” said Bock.

“They, instead, 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 or I didn’t get the resources or the market moved. … What we’ve seen is that the people who are the most successful here, who we want to hire, will have a fierce position. 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.’ ” You need a big ego and small ego in the same person at the same time.

The least important attribute they look for is “expertise.” Said Bock: “If you take somebody who has high cognitive ability, is innately curious, willing to learn and has emergent leadership skills, and you hire them as an H.R. person or finance person, and they have no content knowledge, and you compare them with someone who’s been doing just one thing and is a world expert, the expert will go: ‘I’ve seen this 100 times before; here’s what you do.’ ” Most of the time the nonexpert will come up with the same answer, added Bock, “because most of the time it’s not that hard.” Sure, once in a while they will mess it up, he said, but once in a while they’ll also come up with an answer that is totally new. And there is huge value in that.

To sum up Bock’s approach to hiring: Talent can come in so many different forms and be built in so many nontraditional ways today, hiring officers have to be alive to every one – besides brand-name colleges. Because “when you look at people who don’t go to school and make their way in the world, those are exceptional human beings. And we should do everything we can to find those people.” Too many colleges, he added, “don’t deliver on what they promise. You generate a ton of debt, you don’t learn the most useful things for your life. It’s [just] an extended adolescence.”

Google attracts so much talent it can afford to look beyond traditional metrics, like G.P.A. For most young people, though, going to college and doing well is still the best way to master the tools needed for many careers. But Bock is saying something important to them, too: Beware. Your degree is not a proxy for your ability to do any job. The world only cares about – and pays off on – what you can do with what you know (and it doesn’t care how you learned it). And in an age when innovation is increasingly a group endeavor, it also cares about a lot of soft skills – leadership, humility, collaboration, adaptability and loving to learn and re-learn. This will be true no matter where you go to work.

A version of this op-ed appears in print on February 23, 2014, on page SR11 of the New York edition with the headline: How to Get a Job at Google. Order Reprints|Today’s Paper|Subscribe

The Story of XIO

By the time that Tom Cruise was running around in 1996 screaming, “Show me the money” already for a decade the mantra of the revolutionary business leader, Jack Welch of GE, had long been, “Show me the value!” Because, in the real world, Jack knew that before you can create money you first have to create value.

By the time he left GE as CEO, Jack Welch had grown the company from a market value of $14 billion to a market value of $410 billion making it the most valuable company in the history of the world.

By then, The General Electric Company was the #1 brand in the US making everything from locomotives to light bulbs. The 100-year-old global business enterprise had undergone a cultural transformation under the leadership of the new Chairman.

His vision was to change the culture of GE from a traditional industrial, top-down hierarchical company to a modern “boundaryless”, communications and market-aware company focused on creating much better value for customers and much better return for shareholders.

GE XIO – The Simplest Idea in the World

At that time, to accelerate his vision Jack Welch sought out Michael Hewitt-Gleeson as his personal advisor for several years from 1984. Michael created a bespoke transformation meme called GE XIO. The idea behind the GE XIO meme was to engage GE employees across the enterprise to create ten times the value for the GE customers and therefore to raise ten times the total return to the GE shareholders.

Cleverly and with his focus on the value-creation philosophy, Jack began a re-design of the 100-year-old GE organisation. Installing X10 memes across the enterprise and mentoring GE senior executives in the use of the cvs2bvs brain software to drive globalisation and value. They used to call him ‘Professor Jack’ as he personally conducted regular training sessions in the GE Leadership Academy at Crotonville-On-Hudson, not all that far from West Point.

Friend of the Company

To help magnify Jack’s strategy Michael combined multi-media corporate conference presentations and live masterclasses across the enterprise. At the same time he was Jack’s XIO mentor privately mentoring in 1-2-1, strategic consulting meetings on crisis issues like the ‘Caspar Weinberger Affair’. Jack often referred to Michael as “my new guru”.

Acknowledging his key role in one of the most successful corporate transformations ever undertaken in the US Jack Welch wrote saying, “Michael, you are a friend of our company”.

The full story of GE XIO and how to use the XIO memes is written up in Hewitt-Gleeson’s book The XIO Memeplex: Multiply Your Business By Ten! (Prentice Hall 2000).

Since the 80s, there have been many Fortune 500 companies who have tried to emulate the example set by GE and copious volumes have been written about Jack’s value-driven transformation of his company. Today, Larry Page of Google says he “lives by the gospel of X10” (WIRED, Feb 2013).

The Viral Power of Simplicity

JACK WELCH, CEO of GE used cvs2bvs as an enterprise solution to accelerate the transformation of GE from a 100-year-old slow-thinking monolith to a fast-thinking modern business with a growth surge of 4000% in shareholder value.

He wrote: “I wish I had a management team that really understood the cvs2bvs equation because it is the value-added role in the management process”.

Even before the www and the rise of Google Jack Welch understood the viral power of simplicity. He used cvs2bvs as a killer management app for value-creation and watched it spread across his enterprise. He did this because he said,cvs2bvs is the simplest idea in the world!”


 

First Law of Thinking

cvs ≠ bvs

“the current view of the situation (cvs)

can never be equal to

the better view of the situation (bvs)”

Second Law of Thinking

cvs x10 = bvs

“the better view of the situation (bvs)

can be ten times

the current view of the situation (cvs)”

 

 

Today, Larry Page of Google lives by the gospel of 10x!

 

WIRED Magazine, Cover Story February 2013 by Steven Levy:

Larry Page lives by the gospel of 10x. Most companies would be happy to improve a product by 10 percent. Not the CEO and cofounder of Google. The way Page sees it, a 10 percent improvement means that you’re basically doing the same thing as everybody else. That’s why Page expects his employees to create products and services that are 10 times better than the competition.”

 

Multiply Your Business by 10!

In this exciting book, Michael Hewitt-Gleeson introduces a new way to think about business. He describes the x10 meme – the innovative idea of multiplying your business by 10.

Currently the business growth meme in most people’s brain is 10% per annum. Here the author stresses that the market is changing rapidly and businesses cannot stay the same. The 10% per annum meme is outdated and needs to be upgraded.

X10 is the focus for future thinking and for customer-driven businesses bent on profit share. Using three easy-to-follow tutorials, Hewitt-Gleeson guides you through The x10 Memeplex. Finally, a case study plan helps people to transfer these ideas into their own business practices.

This book will change the way everyone thinks about business. Go ahead. Read the x10 gospel. Infect your mind with the x10 meme. Be like Larry Page and multiply your business by ten!