Google doesn't care where you went to college

Here's how to get a job at Google
Here's how to get a job at Google

Google is consistently rated the best place to work. So you need a degree from Harvard to get in the door, right?

Not really, according to Laszlo Bock, Google's Head of People Operations.

When the company was small, Google cared a lot about getting kids from Harvard, Stanford, and MIT. But Bock said it was the "wrong" hiring strategy. Experience has taught him there are exceptional kids at many other places, from state schools in California to New York.

"What we find is the best people from places like that are just as good if not better as anybody you can get from any Ivy League school," said Bock, who just authored a book titled "Work Rules!" and stopped by CNNMoney to share his smarts.

Every year, 2 million people apply to get a job at Google (GOOG). Bock himself has seen some 25,000 résumés.

So what else does Google not care about:

Grades: Google's data shows that grades predict performance for the first two years of a career, but do not matter after that.

Brainteasers: Gone are interview questions such as: Why are manhole covers round? or How many golf balls can fit in a school bus? "Our research tells us those questions are a waste of time," Bock said. "They're a really coachable skill. The more you practice, you get better at it."

A shoe: "Somebody sent me a shoe once with a résumé tucked inside because they wanted to get their foot in the door." That one didn't work.

Or a robot: Especially when it arrived broken, with exposed wires and a "press here" button. Call in the bomb squad.

Here's what Google does care about:

Problem solvers: Your cognitive ability, or how well you solve problems.

Leaders: The idea is not whether you were president of the student body or vice president of the bank, rather: "When you see a problem do you step in, help solve it," and then critically, "Are you willing to step out and let somebody else take over, and make room for somebody else? Are you willing to give up power?"

Googleyness: That's what Google calls its cultural fit. It's not "Are you like us?" Bock said. "We actually look for people who are different, because diversity gives us great ideas."

What's most important is that people are intellectually humble, willing to admit when they're wrong, and care about the environment around them ..."because we want people who think like owners not employees," Bock said.

The least important thing? Knowing how to do the job.

"We figure if you get the first three right you'll figure it out most of the time."

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Inside Google's office in the Netherlands.

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