The Starbucks route to getting hired

In a tough economy it pays to know what a CIO is looking for when recruiting. Starbucks new CIO spills the beans.

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How has the economic situation affected your talent acquisition strategy?

The pressure of the economic situation has done two things: One, it has reordered sequence. Before I had two or three key positions open in parallel. Now I have them sequenced in order of most to least business impact.

Second, it has allowed me to tune the job descriptions, talent pool and experience we are looking for. It is much better now to look for someone who has been through an economic downturn. For example, someone who worked at IBM in 1992 when Lou Gerstner came back is a good person to have right now. I do not want to see someone who has never had faced economic adversity in their career. I want someone who is going to be a pillar of strength at a time of uncertainty.

What types of positions are currently looking to fill?

Right now we are recruiting for various disciplines. The one that is first and foremost on my calendar is in the business intelligence category--to help Starbucks better utilise customer analytics. In times of economic distress, understanding our customers is a way to unlock future value.

What is the process for interviewing candidates for IT jobs at Starbucks?

I like to do a phone screen before I bring a candidate in for more extensive interviews because the last thing I want to do is have a candidate go through a one- or two-day, eight hour session only to get to me and not be a fit. The talent acquisition team at Starbucks does a first pass, then I spend an hour with the candidate on the phone or in person. If that works, I bring them in for the full interview cycle.

When I build the interview cycle for vice presidents and above, I have the candidate interview with their potential direct reports to show the directors and their staff that I value their opinion when it comes to hiring their future leadership. I typically conduct those interviews in a group setting of two or three directors so that it is not one-on-one--a director with their potential boss, which could be uncomfortable for the director. A group environment gives the directors more confidence.

I also bring peers or potential business partners outside of IT, with whom I have a strong relationship, to interview candidates for VP-level positions. My peers and I have a pretty good ability to take off our "discipline hat" and put on our "fiduciary hat" to interview through that lens.

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