n interview with Adam Bryant, a journalist from The Times, and Laszlo Bock, the Senior Vice President of People Operations at Google, revealed interesting facts regarding the company's hiring process. 

Despite the belief that academic performance is a key factor in job selection, Google determined that G.P.A. and test scores were useless when predicting future job performance.

As someone responsible for hiring for one of the world's most successful companies, Bock's statement was bold and significant.

Does Google care about your transcripts?

One of the things we've seen from all our data crunching is that G.P.A.'s are worthless as a criteria for hiring, and test scores are worthless — no correlation at all except for brand-new college grads, where there's a slight correlation. Google famously used to ask everyone for a transcript and G.P.A.'s and test scores, but we don't anymore, unless you're just a few years out of school. We found that they don't predict anything. What's interesting is the proportion of people without any college education at Google has increased over time as well. So we have teams where you have 14 percent of the team made up of people who've never gone to college. - Laszlo Bock.

What does Laszlo Bock think about certificates and degrees?

After two or three years, your ability to perform at Google is entirely unrelated to how you performed when you were in school, because the skills you required in college are very different. You're also fundamentally a different person. You learn and grow, you think about things differently. - Laszlo Bock.

Another reason is that I think academic environments are artificial environments. Successful people are finely trained and conditioned to succeed in that environment. One of my own frustrations when I was in college and grad school was that I knew the professor was looking for a specific answer. You could figure that out, but it's much more interesting to solve problems without an obvious answer. You want people who like figuring out stuff without an obvious answer. - Laszlo Bock

According to Bock, the company has five hiring attributes.

Cognitive Ability 

According to Laszlo Bock, the most crucial attribute that Google looks for in potential employees is general cognitive ability.

However, this does not refer to I.Q. but rather to the ability to learn, process information efficiently, and connect different pieces of information. Google evaluates this ability through structured behavioural interviews that have been validated to ensure they are predictive.

 "If it's a technical role, we assess your coding ability, and half the roles in the company are technical roles." - Laszlo Bock. 


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 team member, do you step in and lead at the appropriate time?

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 must be willing to relinquish power.

Humility and ownership - 

According to Bock, a key attribute for successful problem-solving is a combination of humility and ownership.

He emphasized the importance of feeling responsible and taking ownership, while also being humble enough to embrace the ideas of others. The ultimate goal, he explained, is to collaborate and find solutions together.

After contributing one's own ideas, it is important to step back and allow others to contribute as well.

According to Bock, it is important to have a sense of responsibility and ownership to solve problems, while also being humble enough to embrace better ideas from others.

The goal is to work together to problem-solve, with each person contributing their own piece before stepping back.

"Successful bright people rarely experience failure, and so they don't learn how to learn from that failure," - Laszlo Bock. 


According to Bock, "expertise" is the least essential attribute that Google looks for in its hires. Instead, the company prioritizes candidates with high cognitive ability, curiosity, willingness to learn, and emergent leadership skills. Even if candidates lack content knowledge in a specific area, they can still excel in a role if they possess these qualities. Bock emphasized that non-experts can often arrive at the same solution as experts and sometimes even propose innovative solutions that experts may have yet to consider. This underscores the value of a diverse and adaptable workforce. 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.

"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." - Laszlo Bock. 

Are Schools Leaving Our Children Behind?

Laszlo Bock, a former Google executive, raises concerns about a potential mismatch between the skills schools teach and the skills valued in today's workplace. Here's how his insights from Google's data challenge traditional education:

  • Overemphasis on Grades and Test Scores:  Research at Google suggests that G.P.A.'s and test scores have little to no bearing on job performance after a few years of work experience. This raises questions about many schools' focus on standardized testing and rote memorization. Schools might be better served by prioritizing:some text
    • Critical thinking: The ability to analyze information, solve problems, and form independent judgments.
    • Creativity and Innovation: Thinking outside the box and developing new ideas are essential for success in today's dynamic world.
  • Lack of Focus on Real-World Skills:  While core knowledge is necessary, critical thinking, problem-solving, and learning new things are crucial for success in the modern workplace. Schools could place greater emphasis on:some text
    • Project-based learning: This approach allows students to collaborate on projects that require applying knowledge to solve real-world problems.
    • Communication and Collaboration: Effective communication and productive collaboration with others are essential in any field.
  • Devaluing Diverse Paths:  Bock highlights the success of Google employees without college degrees. This challenges the traditional view of a college degree as the sole path to a fulfilling career. Schools can do more to:some text
    • Promote vocational training and apprenticeships: These programs equip students with valuable skills for specific trades and careers.
    • Foster a growth mindset: Encouraging students to see challenges as opportunities to learn and grow prepares them for lifelong learning.

Based on Laszlo Bock's insights from Google's data, here are the skills young people need to focus on:

  • General Cognitive Ability: This isn't just I.Q., but the ability to learn quickly, process information on the fly, and connect seemingly disparate bits of knowledge.
  • Learning Agility: A love of learning, adapting, and learning new things is crucial in a world of constant change.
  • Critical Thinking and Problem-Solving: Analyzing information, solving problems independently, and thinking creatively are essential skills for the modern workforce.
  • Communication and Collaboration: The ability to express oneself clearly, work effectively with others, and contribute to a team are critical skills employers value.
  • Curiosity and Initiative: A natural curiosity and a willingness to take initiative are essential for tackling new challenges and finding innovative solutions.
  • Humility and Intellectual Humility: Being open to new ideas, acknowledging when you're wrong, and being willing to learn from others are valuable assets.
Apr 4, 2024
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