top of page

Subscribe to our blog and receive actionable insights on Talent Optimization automatically.

Thanks for submitting!

  • Writer's pictureAJ Cheponis

Ex-Google VP Always Hires for This Trait That Most People Think They Have, But Few Do

Experience and skills matter, but they can be learned.

Ditch the resume

One of the most important qualities to look for in a new hire is self-awareness. This wise piece of advice comes from Claire Hughes Johnson, Harvard lecturer, author, and former Google vice president.

While experience and skills are crucial, they can be developed over time. However, self-awareness is a trait that significantly impacts a person's motivation to learn and grow. A self-aware individual is honest about their strengths and weaknesses, making them more driven to improve.

Although Hughes Johnson never mentioned the Dunning-Kruger Effect by name, this phenomenon is closely related to her advice. The Dunning-Kruger Effect describes a lack of self-awareness that leads people to overestimate their expertise in areas where they actually know very little. According to social psychologist David Dunning, who co-authored the initial study on this effect, we all fall victim to this fallacy occasionally. Hence, the more self-aware we are, the better equipped we are to recognize and correct our mistakes.

Spotting Self-Awareness in Job Candidates

If self-awareness is the most critical quality Hughes Johnson seeks in job candidates, how does she identify it? It's challenging because while 95 percent of people believe they are self-aware, only 10 to 15 percent truly are.

Here are some strategies to uncover self-awareness during a job interview:

  1. Listen for "I" and "We": Pay attention to the candidate's use of these pronouns. Excessive use of "I" might indicate a lack of collaboration or an inflated sense of their contributions. Conversely, too much "we" can obscure individual achievements. Look for a balance.

  2. Ask How Others Would Describe Them: If a candidate only offers flattering descriptions, dig deeper. Ask about constructive feedback they've received and how they've applied it. This reveals their openness to self-improvement and their ability to take feedback seriously.

Measuring Your Own Self-Awareness

This advice is invaluable for interviewers, but what if you're curious about your own self-awareness? If most people believe they're self-aware but only a small percentage truly are, how can you determine where you stand?

Consider these questions based on Hughes Johnson's insights:

  • Do you often receive feedback you disagree with? If this happens frequently, it might indicate that others see you differently than you see yourself.

  • Do you feel drained at the end of the workday without knowing why? A mismatch between your self-perception and how others perceive you can lead to unnecessary exhaustion.

  • Do you struggle to identify the types of work you enjoy or dislike? This could be a significant sign of lacking self-awareness. Knowing what work makes you happy or unhappy is crucial for career satisfaction.

Fortunately, self-awareness can be developed. To assist in this journey, we offer a free, no-obligation behavioral assessment based on rigorous behavioral science. Try it yourself or recommend it to colleagues to help them understand themselves better. While you may never fully see yourself as others do, getting closer to that perspective can set you up for greater success.


Discover the real you

6 views0 comments


bottom of page