Hiring a new team member can have a large impact, for good or bad; so identifying what makes someone successful can be a huge leg up when sitting across the table at an interview with potential candidates. Additionally, what better way to be successful ourselves than to try and model our behavior after other successful people?

These thoughts were bouncing through my head when I listened to a Hidden Brain podcast recently titled Google at Work. Shankar Vedantam was talking with Google’s Senior Vice President of People Operations, Laszlo Bock, about Google’s workforce philosophy and then specifically about what they look for when trying to find people who will be successful hires. Bock walked through four areas they explore through structured interview questions:

Four Areas To Look For In Potential Candidates

General Cognitive Ability
Not just smarts, but problem solving ability and learning ability.

Emergent Leadership
When you see a problem do you step in and help fix it. Just as importantly, do you relinquish power and let go of it.

He described this as conscientiousness, but also as an intellectual humility. Not as in meek, but being able to say “If I get new facts, I am going to revise my opinions and perspectives in light of those new facts”. In my own interpretation, it seems in general to mean how well do they fit in with the ethos of the organization.

Can you do the job
The actual skills for the position. This Bock placed as being least important; saying that if you have the other attributes you’ll figure out the job and maybe you’ll come up with something new.

Google developed these areas by looking at the characteristics of successful employees there. These areas do seem to ring true looking back interactions during my own career to date as well.

Regardless of which side of the interview table you happen to be on, these four areas provide a helpful lens with which to view potential for success at work. Check out the podcast for even more great info about Google’s workplace philosophy or this excerpt on Wired from Laszlo Bock’s book ‘Work Rules’!