Want to work at a company like Google? Getting your foot in the door may be less complicated than you think. In a recent New York Times interview by Thomas Friedman, Google’s Senior Vice President of People Operations, Laszlo Bock, revealed that the hiring process is now quite simple and traditional – even at a company like his. With college graduation now weeks away, Friedman spoke to Bock on his advice for both recent graduates and job seekers everywhere and a condensed version was published in yesterday’s NYT Sunday Review.
Under Bock’s leadership, Google has seen a change in its hiring processes, in a return to more traditional, tried and true roots. Bock, who is involved in about 100 hires at Google per week, has publically called Google’s famous brainteasers once used to screen potential new hires a complete waste of time. He reminds us that the resume is just as significant than ever (even in massive, technologically forward big-data companies), that the interview process does not have to be complicated, and that you should not regret that liberal arts degree.
It starts with a stellar resume. According to Bock, here’s how it’s done:
Be specific and quantifiable…
“The key is to frame your strengths as: ‘I accomplished X, relative to Y, by doing Z’. Most people would write a resume 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’.”
If your resume scores an interview, the interview process can be simpler than you make it:
There is a simple, strategic formula to job interviews that stands the test of time…
“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’,” says Bock. Then, explain how this can create value. “Most people in an interview don’t make explicit their thought process behind how or why they did something and, even if they are able to come up with a compelling story, they are unable to explain their thought process.”
The first thing Google looks for?
According to Bock, the first thing Google looks for “is general cognitive ability – the ability to learn things and solve problems.” This means, “a knowledge set that will be invaluable is the ability to understand and apply information — so, basic computer science skills. I’m not saying you have to be some terrific coder, but to just understand how [these] things work you have to be able to think in a formal and logical and structured way.” For the technologically challenged young professionals, that kind of thinking doesn’t have to come from a computer science degree. “I took statistics at business school, and it was transformative for my career. Analytical training gives you a skill set that differentiates you from most people in the labour market.”
Right-brainers, worry not. The liberal arts are not dead…
The liberal arts are still important…
According to Bock, the liberal arts are “phenomenally important,” especially when you combine them with other disciplines. For example, with behavioural economics. “Ten years ago behavioural economics was rarely referenced. But [then] you apply social science to economics and suddenly there’s this whole new field. I think a lot about how the most interesting things are happening at the intersection of two fields. To pursue that, you need expertise in both fields. You have to understand economics and psychology or statistics and physics [and] bring them together. You need some people who are holistic thinkers and have liberal arts backgrounds and some who are deep functional experts. Building that balance is hard, but that’s where you end up building great societies, great organizations.”
Instead of over-thinking things, and disguising our resumes with bells, whistles and even videos, perhaps we could learn a thing or two from Bock’s insight in a return to a simple focus on the basics. It really is not as complicated as we all tend to make it.
#LYNL | (Live Your Notable Life)
Cover image: Google office in Israel