There were a couple of things that really stood out to me in this interview with Laszlo Bock, the SVP of people operations for Google, talking about the criteria they use for hiring. Whilst vertical skills such as coding are important for a significant proportion of roles, the significance of softer skills is really emphasised. I liked this in particular:
"For every job, though, the No. 1 thing we look for is general cognitive ability, and it’s not I.Q. It’s learning ability. It’s the ability to process on the fly. It’s the ability to pull together disparate bits of information."
Bock talks about ownership and humility, the latter in the context of intellectual humility ("without humility, you are unable to learn.”). If the difference between companies that are good and those that are great is the difference between fixed and growth (or learning) cultures, then it makes sense that this is the kind of mindset that you look for.
I've long thought that in recruitment the balance between direct experience and the softer skills is often weighted too much to the former, but it's the latter that can really make the difference between someone who is capable, and someone who is amazing. Interesting then, but perhaps little surprise, that 'expertise' is one of the least important attributes that Google look for.