Soft skills are important. Even Google studies say so.


The hiring process at Google is the stuff of legend, especially for tech professionals. Although the famous “brain teasers” are no longer asked in job interviewsan applicant still needs to be screened by their potential boss, potential colleagues, and a hiring committee. It takes an average of 6 weeks for Google to make sure they got the right person, and with more than two million job applications from around the world, you can be sure they aren’t kidding around when it comes to their recruitment process.

That is why it’s a pleasant surprise to hear that the top 6 characteristics of success at Google are all soft skills. Originally, Google wanted to hire computer science students with top grades from elite science universities. But Google’s 2013 study called Project Oxygen revealed that STEM skills actually comes in last in the list of the most important qualities of the company’s top employees. Instead, their best people exhibit the following soft skills:

  1. being a good coach
  2. communicating and listening well
  3. possessing insights into others (including others different values and points of view)
  4. having empathy toward and being supportive of one’s colleagues
  5. being a good critical thinker and problem solver
  6. being able to make connections across complex ideas.


Another study called Project Aristotle, which was released this past spring, further supports the importance of soft skills. It revealed that Google’s best teams who come up with the  most important new ideas are not composed of the top scientists with specialized tech skills, but the employees who exhibit a range of soft skills: equality, generosity, curiosity, empathy, and emotional intelligence.

Of course, it goes without saying that STEM skills are vital in today’s tech-filled world. In fact, Google CEO Sundar Pichai emphasized the importance of learning “softer” digital skills for people to thrive even in non-tech jobs.

But technology alone, as Steve Jobs famously insisted, is not enough. The more things become automated the greater the need for “human” skills to make better technology for people.

(And…in case you haven’t heard yet, Google has a dedicated page for their hiring process, which includes frequently asked questions, tips on how to make your application stand out, interview pointers, and even resources to help you develop your technical skills. You’re welcome.)