“G.P.A.’s are worthless as a criteria for hiring, and test scores are worthless. We found that they don’t predict anything.”

So says Laszlo Bock, the guy in charge of hiring at Google.

Parents, you may want to hide this blog post from your kids because Laszlo goes on to note that “the proportion of people without any college education at Google has increased over time – now as high as 14 percent on some teams.”

Five Qualities
OK, that’s still not a very high proportion, and Google still looks for good grades in jobs that require math, computing and coding skills. But Google uses complex interview techniques to test for five other qualities that aren’t necessarily associated with good grades.

  1. Leadership (especially in team problem-solving)
  2. Humility
  3. Collaboration
  4. Adaptability
  5. Loving to learn and re-learn.

The least important attribute they look for is “expertise” because they believe if people have these five qualities, they will be able not only to solve most everyday problems in most areas, but they will also pioneer new and innovative approaches.

Pros and Cons of College
Given the number of graduates he must interview every day, Bock’s assessment of college is sobering:

Too many colleges don’t deliver on what they promise. You generate a ton of debt, you don’t learn the most useful things for your life. It’s [just] an extended adolescence.

Thomas Friedman, the journalist who reported this, isn’t fully persuaded.

For most young people, though, going to college and doing well is still the best way to master the tools needed for many careers.

But even Friedman wants College students to heed Bock’s advice:

Beware. Your degree is not a proxy for your ability to do any job. The world only cares about — and pays off on — what you can do with what you know (and it doesn’t care how you learned it). And in an age when innovation is increasingly a group endeavor, it also cares about a lot of soft skills — leadership, humility, collaboration, adaptability and loving to learn and re-learn. This will be true no matter where you go to work.

Don’t Rely on College
Friedman’s point is don’t rely on College alone, no matter how prestigious or costly. But how will our kids learn these skills?

Continued involvement in and commitment to their family is a great place to start. Church youth groups are another good training ground. Team sports and hobbies can also be helpful forums. Part-time jobs in tough environments like Macdonalds do no harm either. Being mentored in a trade is also invaluable. And, O, for more innovative High School teachers who will brake the mold, and aim far higher than simply producing and hailing content experts who couldn’t start or maintain a conversation with an adult to save their lives.

Seminary Challenge
But this is also a challenge to Seminary students. These five qualities are also absolutely vital for the ministry and at least three or four of them cannot be learned in the classroom. That’s why previous work experience is usually so important and why ongoing involvement and service in the local church is non-negotiable.

Seminaries, like Colleges, can produce content experts. But what’s far more important is what students can do with what they know. That’s what makes someone a people expert. Or, in other words, a shepherd.