The Trait a Longtime Google Exec Looked for During Every Job Interview—And How You Can Showcase It

Woman waiting for a job interview

It’s all about the job interview.

When you apply for your dream job, a brilliantly crafted cover letter might get the attention of the hiring manager. Your strong resume might even land you in their “good” pile. A few impressive references could get you a phone call or even a sit-down job interview. But you’ll rarely land the position if you don’t stick the landing during the job interview.

Nailing the Job Interview

A masterful, job-winning interview performance could mean answering technical questions relevant to tasks in the job description. In other scenarios, you may just need to pass a “vibe check”—proving yourself to be a strong culture fit when your skills and experience check all the other boxes. In some instances, you may need to handle soup properly.

And if you’re being interviewed by former Google VP Claire Hughes Johnson, the whole thing could hinge on the way you use two words.

Showing Your Self-Awareness

As Hughes Johnson recently stated in a CNBC op-ed, the most important “skill” (or, some might argue, “trait”) she looked for during her many hours interviewing candidates was self-awareness. She writes:

Sure, your experience and skills matter, but they can be learned. And when someone is highly self-aware, they’re more motivated to learn because they’re honest about what they need to work on. They also relate better to their colleagues and managers.

Hughes Johnson cites research that says only 10-15% of people are self-aware, while 95% of people think they are.

You’re likely in that 95% of people who think they’re self-aware. So, how do you prove it to be true? (Or, if you’re in the 85%-90% of people who aren’t self-aware, how do you fake it for the length of a job interview?)

Hughes Johnson looks for a balance of using the terms “I” and “we” when discussing previous work experience. Too much “I” could mean a person lacks humility, or even the ability to collaborate. Too much “we” could be a smokescreen: is the person lumping themself in with a larger group to get credit for their work?

The full op-ed is worth a read for an examples of a balanced I/we sentence, and tips on how to really tell if you’re self-aware.

More Job-Seeking Questions, Answered

Which jobs will be the most in demand over the next decade? These 12 all pay six figures

What’s the first thing you should do after losing your job? Post about it on LinkedIn.

What are the highest paying blue-collar jobs? These 7 all pay $80K+

Should you tell a new employer about your side hustle? Experts weigh in.

What are “stay interviews” and why have they become so prominent? Here’s what to know.

Can you really harness AI to get more work done? If you use these websites you can.

Can a four-day workweek really… work? Here are 13 surprising benefits.

Ryan Rabasa

Ryan Rabasa is an associate editor at Wealth Gang. His passions are technology, writing, business, and media. He won't trust an investment strategy that doesn't incorporate both technical and fundamental analysis.