Former Google VP Shared The One Skill She Looked For When Interviewing People For Jobs That Was Nearly Impossible To Find

A great tip for current job seekers.

woman during interview for job Zivica Kerkez / Shutterstock

With the harsh reality of the current job market, just getting an interview can be a feat in itself. That's why truly shining in an interview when you get one is imperative.

Former Google Vice President Claire Hughes Johnson, who interviewed countless applicants in her corporate tenure, revealed that when it comes to finding the right fit for a role, it's not an applicant with experience in the hard skills of the job that a good manager will look for. It's way more personal.


Johnson revealed the one rare skill she searched for in interview candidates but hardly ever found. 

Skills and experience come secondary to self-awareness according to Johnson, and it's a trait that is hard to find. Apparently, only 10–15% of people have it.

Self-awareness is much more than just breathing techniques and articulating our emotions. Johnson explained in an interview with CNBC that only a small handful of people can actually speak from a self-aware standpoint. 



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Most people actually don't know what self-awareness really is, especially from an employer's perspective.

There are actually two kinds of self-awareness that many employers are looking for during interviews — internal and external self-awareness. 

  • Internal self-awareness, according to the Harvard Business Review, represents how we see our own skills, passions, values, aspirations, and our impact on the people around us. This is often the type of self-awareness achieved through some form of emotional regulation technique like meditation or breathwork. 
  • External self-awareness is less common. It represents an understanding of how other people view us. You are able to read cues from your environment to determine how you are perceived by others. So, in a work setting, employees and employers who can interact based on self-awareness communicate more effectively and collaborate well. 

While having one or the other is typically a good thing, it’s truly a balance of the two that most people are not able to achieve, and often this balance is what employers are seeking. 



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So, how are employers able to spot these traits in people in just a short interview? It all comes down to how they talk about the work they’ve done in the past. Johnson explained that too much “I” can be a red flag that a candidate is not collaborative, while too much “we” overshadows their true role. 

So, how can candidates know if they’ve perfected the balance of self-awareness before an interview?

Johnson explained the three main pillars of being able to build self-awareness to determine 'why you work the way you do.'

1. Understanding what your values are. 

Understanding your values doesn't require hours of introspection. Johnson explained that simply "knowing what is important to you, what gives you energy, and what weakens it" will help you understand your values and give you a sense of how they align with the people you work with.

TikTok creators like Kelsea (@theseamlesscoach) add another layer to this conversation. Not only does understanding your values help you craft an idea of the life you want to have, but it also helps you to make intentional small choices in your day-to-day that can add meaning to your life. 




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Knowing what values are important to you and what weakens them in a workplace setting is fundamental to how enjoyable your work can be.

2. Identifying your work style. 

Finding your work style might go hand in hand with what values bring meaning to your life. The more you align with your work style, the happier and more successful you can be in your current and future roles. 


Johnson recommended taking a few weeks to "write down the moments when you feel like you're reaching new heights at your job or hitting new lows. You'll start to see patterns." It's within these patterns that you can determine your work style.

Self-awareness in your work style means having a good understanding of your strengths and weaknesses. 

3. Analyzing your skills and capabilities.

For candidates going through the interview process, understanding your strengths and weaknesses is a pillar of conversation. While many people prepare for the question, most don’t understand exactly what they should be speaking about. 



For example, trying to gloss over your weaknesses to make yourself seem like a better candidate might actually be painting you in a negative light.


The Founder and CEO of Zoom, Eric Yuan, suggested that at the end of each workday, employees should ask themselves three questions to build their understanding of their strengths and weaknesses:

  1. What did I do well?
  2. What do I need to improve on?
  3. How can I improve on that tomorrow? 

So if you believe yourself to be self-aware, or label yourself as the farthest thing from it, consider picking up some of these tips and implementing them in your day-to-day routine. 

You’ll not only be doing your “work persona” a favor, but you’ll be impacting your personal life in incredibly positive ways as well. 


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Zayda Slabbekoorn is a news and entertainment writer at YourTango focusing on pop culture analysis and human interest stories.