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.


Do you have any pet peeves during an interview?

Do not chew gum. Do not recite your résumé. Your résumé gets you in the door and your personality, experience, style and character gets you the job. I've already looked at your résumé, now I want to look at you. I have already looked at your experience and education, now I want to hear about your tone, style, personality and leadership ability.

Who was the first person you ever hired?

My boss actually. In 1997, I was working in a leadership position in IT at a hospital. We had a contractor on board who was acting as both the chief financial officer and chief administrative officer. When his contract expired, we opened up a permanent chief financial officer position, which the contractor applied for, and they put me on the board that was hiring. I met and interviewed the contractor and gave the chief executive officer my vote to hire him as my boss, and he became the chief financial officer of the hospital.

Did you receive training on how to hire?

I have never taken a course on hiring practices per se, but I have taken courses and on how to interview, negotiate and read body language.

How have your interviewing skills evolved over the years?

I think there's been a continual refinement of both my structured and learned skills and of my gut and intuition. I tend to be more direct and probing in my questions now than I was ten years ago. I think that comes from confidence and experience that I frankly did not have ten years ago.

My style is very open. I will lay out the objectives in the interview, engage in an unstructured discussion, use some scenarios, talk about experience and ask the candidate one or two odd questions about how they handle adversity.

Have you ever really liked somebody you interviewed but your team did not? What did you do?

I had a situation like that at a previous company, but it was much more complicated. When you have a culture where mid-level management does not have the authority to say yes, they exercise their authority by saying no to everything. So if you get a candidate whom everyone is saying yes to, some of the disrupters in the group would say no just to focus the discussion on why they said no. There were disrupters who would continually vote no, not because of any principal, but because they liked the organisational attention they received when they said no to a candidate that everyone else liked.

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