• As the coronavirus crisis leads Google to slow its overall hiring, it’s still continuing to “aggressively” bring on workers for its cloud unit. 
  • There are a handful of valuable skills that help Google Cloud employees thrive, said Google Cloud’s VP of Human Resources, Brigette McInnis-Day. 
  • Empathy, self-reflection, and a willingness to collaborate are all important.
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As the coronavirus crisis forces companies to tighten budgets and cut staff, the cloud industry appears to be thriving, including within Google.

While the company saw its first-ever revenue decline in the second quarter as advertisers pulled back because of the pandemic, its Cloud unit was an earnings bright spot.

In fact, executives said that the cloud unit was still “hiring aggressively,” despite a company-wide hiring slow-down for the remainder of the year.

“What we’re doing in Cloud is being very deliberate about which targeted areas we need growth,” Brigette McInnis-Day, Google Cloud’s vice president of human resources, told Business Insider in late June, adding that the unit is focused on its technology divisions, customer success, and emerging markets teams.

In the nine months since McInnis-Day joined Google Cloud to help grow its team, she’s found that there are a set of valuable interpersonal skills that help employees thrive.

Now that Google’s hiring process — which includes multiple interviews, often over several days — takes place entirely online, it can actually help those more subtle skills stand out. Talking with potential hires when both parties are at home “provides more confidence and comfort in themselves versus coming into a new environment,” McInnis-Day said.

“I think it’s beneficial both for the candidate and for the interviewer because you see them in a more of a personal environment,” she said, “So you get to see more of what the candidate shares with you.”

McInnis-Day walked us through what Google is looking for in new hires, so if you want to impress a Google Cloud recruiter, here are the traits you should try to emphasize:

Brigette McInnis-Day

Brigette McInnis-Day, who oversees Google Cloud’s hiring strategy, said the company looks for three big traits during interviews.

Google

Empathy 

As the Google Cloud Platform continues to grow, the team actively recruits engineers that it believes can build products based on what customers need, according to McInnis-Day .

“We’re in a unique time,” she said. “From a technical perspective, it’s really asking questions to understand the business issues, to make sure we know what we’re solving for.”

Listening to feedback and following through is a big part of retaining customers and building trust, McInnis-Day said, and the technology team is just as active in Google’s relationship-building process as the sales and customer service teams are. The ability to translate customer feedback into concrete product decisions requires empathy.

“It’s very important that the solution is mirroring what’s needed,” she said.

Self-reflection

Self-reflection and empathy go hand-in-hand, McInnis-Day said. As the coronavirus pandemic forced workers across the country to stay at home — and with more companies considering permanent remote work— Google Cloud engineers were pushed to think about how it would impact the long-term goals for their products. In some cases, that meant redefining what was important.

“They’re very self reflective and they know what they need or want.” McInnis-Day said of employees. “They know what questions to ask.”

Honest, open reflection is key to building strong, intuitive products at any tech company, she said. Software engineers should always think beyond standard benchmarks and not be too proud to ask questions. McInnis-Day often asks herself, “Are they going to challenge the status quo?”

“We’re also finding high-humility in the people — the candidates — we’re seeing,” McInnis-Day said. “They can tolerate ambiguity and also can take risks.”

Willingness to collaborate

Collaboration is encouraged across tech companies and fostered through the open work environments, plentiful places for employees to relax, and mini kitchens littered throughout campuses at Google, Facebook and Microsoft.

The need for effective, enthusiastic collaboration has only increased since local stay-at-home orders went into place, McInnis-Day said. Employees leverage in-house tools to work with their teams and bounce ideas off each other.

“I think the piece that’s been so amazing to me coming in to work at Google is their collaborative tools,” McInnis-Day said.

Online collaboration has been a big part of Google Cloud’s growth in the last few months during the pandemic, she said: “And then we look for that in the candidates as well.”

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