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The 2 most important traits for a job candidate, according to Alphabet chairman Eric Schmidt

Eric Schmidt joined Google in 2001, when the company was only a fraction of the online giant that it is now. With only a few hundred employees, Google was three years from being listed on the stock market. After Schmidt spent 10 years as the CEO of the company, Google had 32,000 employees and Alphabet, Google’s parent company, now has 60,000 people working for it. All these years brought plenty of hiring experiences, and this is what Schmidt has to say about the most important traits in an employee.

Invited at the “Masters of Scale” podcast, hosted by LinkedIn cofounder and chairman Reid Hoffman, Schmidt mentioned the fact that as Google scaled, they kept hiring people “who sit between functions and help either side but don’t themselves add a lot of value,” the so-called “glue people”.

As he was witnessing this, he and Google co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin decided to change their hiring system. With the help of processes such as peer interviews, various tests and lines of questioning, Schmidt realised the two most important traits in a job candidate: persistence and curiosity. “Persistence is the single biggest predictor of future success. … And the second thing was curiosity. What do you care about? The combination of persistence and curiosity is a very good predictor of employee success in a knowledge economy,” he details.


According to him, the process of discovering these features in a person is less important than their actual discovery.

Eric Schmidt concludes that at the end of the day, the employer should also ask himself whether he would like or not to work with a particular job candidate, as the final decision “has a lot to do with if the person is interesting or not.”


Lydia Peirce