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Five qualities you need to get a job at Google

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Just one glimpse of the incredibly designed Google headquarters in London is enough to convince us that we'd not only like to work, but also possibly live there.

The internet giant is regularly voted one of the world's best companies to work for, with a host of perks including wellness centres, subsidised massages, gourmet cuisine, a rooftop allotment space to grow herbs and vegetables (in London) and a roller hockey rink (in California).

But unsurprisingly, jobs at Google are tough to come by and now Laszlo Bock, Google senior vice president of operations, has outlined the five key qualities the company looks for in potential employees.

In an interview with the New York Times, Bock said that expertise was the attribute Google rated least and instead HR bosses sought out people who were "innately curious and willing to learn." Here, roughly translated, are the five main qualities he said Google employees should have:

1. Ability to learn

Google is increasingly hiring people without a university education and while "good grades certainly don’t hurt," the capacity to process information and pull together disparate bits of knowledge is more important. "For every job, though, the No. 1 thing we look for is general cognitive ability, it’s not IQ." Coding ability is obviously important for tech roles, which account for half of all vacancies at Google.

2. Potential to lead

Potential is the key word here. "Traditional leadership" is irrelevant - bosses don't care whether you were once vice president of sales, or how quickly you rose up the ranks. What they want to know is, "when faced with a problem and you’re a member of a team, do you, at the appropriate time, step in and lead." Just as importantly is knowing when to relinquish power and step back to allow other team members some elbow space.

3. Humility

"Without humility, you are unable to learn." Successful candidates aren't necessarily high-flyers who have come straight out of top-end business schools. Those type of people rarely experience failure so they don't know how to deal with it. Instead, Google gravitates towards employees who "argue like hell" for their point of view but know how to back off when other people present their argument. "You need a big ego and small ego in the same person at the same time."

4. Ownership

Responsibility is key here: "It’s feeling the sense of ownership, to step in." Again, this type of person embraces the ideas put forward by others as well. "Your end goal is what can we do together to problem-solve. I’ve contributed my piece, and then I step back."

5. Ideas rather than qualifications

The non-expert person may make mistakes, but they also have the ability to look at a project or initiative with fresh eyes; an advantage which outweighs the potential for errors. University isn't everything because a lot of the time, top colleges "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 an extended adolescence." So Google will always have an eye to "people who don’t go to school and make their way in the world, those are exceptional human beings."

What do you think, would you go for a job at Google? Let us know on Twitter or in the comments section below.

Words: Anna Brech, Photos: PENSON/Rex Features

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