Job Interview Secret: The No. 1 Skill Google’s Former VP Sought in Candidates 

Job Interview Secret: The No. 1 Skill Google’s Former VP Sought in Candidates 

In job interviews and the workplace, there’s a skill that shines above others. It’s self-awareness. Self-awareness is an excellent skill to have but surprisingly, not everyone possesses it despite thinking they do.

In this article, we’ll explore the significance of self-awareness. It’s not just a personal trait; it’s a catalyst for fostering a learning mindset, facing interviews, and forging robust relationships at work. We’ll also provide you with practical tips on how you can develop it to enhance your career and personal growth.


The Rare Skill of Self-Awareness: Is This a Trait You Have? 

Former Google Vice President Claire Hughes Johnson worked at Google for 10 years. She used to conduct interviews for up to 40 hours a week. During her tenure, she developed a method to simplify the search for outstanding candidates. Her strategy revolved around identifying individuals who possessed a crucial quality: self-awareness.

In her perspective, these individuals showed a strong desire to learn, guided by their honest recognition of areas needing improvement. Furthermore, she noticed that those with self-awareness tended to build more meaningful and harmonious relationships with their colleagues.¹


What is self-awareness and how rare is it?

Dr. Tasha Eurich, an organizational psychologist, described self-awareness in her TED talk as an individual’s capacity to clearly see themselves. Self-aware individuals understand who they are, how others perceive them, and how they fit into the world.

She also discussed her team’s research where they realized that 95 percent of people see themselves as self-aware, but only 10 to 15 percent of people are genuinely self-aware.² This shows that being truly self-aware isn’t very common.


The Two Types of Self-Awareness

Dr. Eurich further elaborates on the two types of self-awareness in her Harvard Business Review article. This is how she differentiates the two.


Internal Self-Awareness 

This type of self-awareness focuses on how well you see yourself, including your passions, values, aspirations, reactions, what impact you have on others, and how you fit in with the environment.

The internal type is correlated with higher satisfaction in our jobs and relationships, happiness, and personal and social control. However, being too internally self-aware can also contribute to stress, anxiety, and depression.


External Self-Awareness 

The second type of self-awareness is about knowing how others see you. People who understand how others perceive them are more likely to show empathy and can better understand other people’s perspectives. Dr. Eurich’s team found that people who are highly self-aware actively focus on balancing the two types.³

Related Reading: Master the Human Element: 7 Essential Soft Skills for Job Seekers 


The Advantages of Being a Self-Aware Candidate and Employee 

Having self-awareness skills can help make you become a better employee. This also makes you a more appealing candidate. Here are some benefits of the skill of self-awareness in the workplace.


Fosters Empathy and Boosts Emotional Intelligence

Self-awareness isn’t just about understanding yourself; it also boosts your emotional intelligence. By acknowledging your strengths and weaknesses, you gain valuable insights into how others perceive you.
For example, if you’re aware you tend to be overly critical, this self-awareness can lead to increased empathy.

When someone else makes a mistake, you’re more likely to understand their perspective and respond with empathy, creating stronger connections with those around you.


Improves Communication

It allows you to adapt your tone and language to suit the person you’re talking to. For instance, you might speak more formally in a business meeting but use a casual tone with friends. Plus, being self-aware makes you a better listener, which, in turn, improves your interactions with others.


Helps Manage Stress

When you’re self-aware, you can anticipate and prepare for stressors. You can also manage the way you react and address these stressors. Self-awareness then helps you make healthier choices for your well-being.


Improves Decision-Making

It helps you recognize and confront any biases you might have. Additionally, it enables you to address emotions that could cloud your judgment. With a clear, self-aware mind, you can focus on the facts and make more rational and sound decisions.


Enhances Productivity

Self-awareness can help you become more productive by letting you focus your energy on the right tasks. When you’re fully aware of your strengths and weaknesses, you can make wise decisions. And when necessary, you can confidently seek assistance or guidance from others to ensure you’re always on the right track to achieve your goals.


Develop Self-Awareness: How to Pursue and Nurture the Skill 

Now that we’ve discussed what it means to be self-aware and how advantageous it can be to you, let’s talk about how you can develop or improve self-awareness. Here are some self-awareness examples.


1. Ask what questions instead of why questions.

In the same TED Talk, Dr. Eurich suggested a practical way to improve self-awareness: to replace “why” questions with “what” questions. While “why” questions can provide deeper insights, they often make you linger and end up feeling stuck. On the other hand, “what” questions propel you forward.

For example, instead of asking yourself why you were chosen to take over a task at work, ask yourself what you can do to excel in that project.

This approach is also valuable during job interviews when discussing specific work situations. Start by outlining who was involved and what tasks you handled. Then, detail your contributions and how your colleagues supported you. This shift from “why” to “what” questions promotes a more constructive and forward-thinking self-awareness.


2. Define your values.

Your values are important as they guide you in making decisions and interacting with others. Defining your values can help you stand your ground when unwanted influence comes your way, and it allows you to channel your efforts on what truly matters.

For example, if honesty is a core value, you’ll prioritize truthfulness in your interactions even when facing difficult decisions.


3. Identify your best work patterns.

Self-awareness also involves recognizing your work habits and patterns that either enhance or hinder your productivity. In identifying these patterns, you can create a personalized work routine.

This routine might involve knowing when to seek assistance, when to work independently, and even pinpointing your most productive hours during the day. This empowers you to optimize your work habits for better efficiency and outcomes.


4. Analyze your skills.

Recognizing your strengths and weaknesses instills confidence and improves your performance. It’s also valuable during interviews. It’s important to acknowledge your strengths and create a plan for enhancing areas that need development. If you’re unsure about your strengths and weaknesses, ask input from a trusted colleague or manager who knows your work well to help you identify them.


5. Practice asking for feedback.

Requesting feedback offers a fresh perspective on yourself. It also fosters humility and openness. Choose a select few individuals you trust for meaningful feedback rather than asking everyone. Consider finding a mentor or leader who can guide you. After interviews, don’t hesitate to ask the recruiter or hiring manager for their feedback as it can enhance your preparation for future interviews.


Being self-aware will make employers want to hire you. 

Self-awareness skills enhance your appeal to employers. It shows you’re committed to personal growth and self-improvement, qualities that employers value. When you understand yourself and actively work on self-improvement, you become a more attractive candidate, opening doors to better opportunities in your career.



Your self-awareness and soft skills can transform your job search. DAVIS Companies specialize in connecting candidates, like you, with opportunities that align with your expertise and strengths. Our team of recruiting experts is dedicated to your success.

Whether you’re looking for roles in professional, engineering, technical & IT, or manufacturing fields, we can help you without disrupting your current job. Contact us today to begin your journey or explore our job openings to see what awaits.



1 Johnson, Claire H. “I Was VP at Google for 10 Years. Here’s the No. 1 Skill I Looked for at Job Interviews—Very Few People Had It.” CNBC, 7 Mar. 2023,

2 Eurich, Tasha. “Increase Your Self-awareness with One Simple Fix.” TED, Accessed 25 Aug. 2023.

3 Eurich, Tasha. “What Self-Awareness Really Is (and How to Cultivate It).” Harvard Business Review, 4 Jan. 2018,

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