#AskIvanka: How to Make Your First Hire
New managers, listen up.
As Ivanka readily admits, conducting your first interview is almost as intimidating as being interviewed. She took to Facebook in our first-ever LIVE video Q&A, to address your concerns (and a few from #TeamIvanka) about interviewing candidates and building a great team. Get her advice below, see the full video and stay tuned for more live Q&A’s with Ivanka on our Facebook page.
What advice would you give someone who’s never conducted an interview before?
It’s actually kind of intimidating to interview someone for the first time. Obviously, the person sitting across from you feels like they squarely own the intimidation factor, given that they’re the ones with something on the line in seeking a job. I remember going through the process of hiring the first few people on my team, and it’s nerve-racking. Like anything, preparation is helpful. Spend some time thinking about the strengths and requisite skillsets that a person needs in order to excel at the role, and gear the interview specifically toward those things. Write a little cheat sheet of questions—about both their professional history and their personal history to see if they’d be a good fit, culturally. Think about areas that were a source of excitement or concern for you on their resume. For example, if it looks like they’ve jumped from job to job in a short period of time, jot down a note ahead of time to ask about that.
What do you think about phone interviews?
I hate them. I think Skype is a little bit better, because you get a sense of the person and see how they carry themselves. When you’re very busy and you interview someone over the phone, it’s easy to get distracted by emails or people in the office. It’s a better use of your time, as the interviewer, and the other person’s time if you’re able to give them your full attention. I don’t interview people over the phone unless they’re located so remotely that it’s cost-prohibitive for them to come meet me in person.
How do you balance being perceived as nice with being a strong leader?
First of all, you can’t pretend to be something you’re not. If you’re not a nice person and you fein it, it’ll come across as inauthentic. I think you want to be a benevolent leader. You want to inspire your team. Being kind and thoughtful won’t be perceived as weakness—it leads to a higher level of collaboration and engagement when people feel that you genuinely care about them and their well-being, and see them for more than just the value they add to the company. I believe in creating clearly articulated goals for my team and having high expectations for accomplishing those goals—I don’t have a lot of leniency about that. That doesn’t mean I’m not nice about it, but I think it’s much easier to be nice when you’ve created clear roles and designations for people. There shouldn’t be much of a disconnect.
How do you stay calm under pressure?
There’s an analogy that I love about being like a duck—on the top, you’re coasting calmly along the surface, but under the water your feet are kicking like mad. For me, it’s about being prepared. It’s also important to put things into context and take a deep breath. Before you go into a nerve-wracking meeting or interview, for example, you shouldn’t be hunched over your iPhone typing out messages. You should be taking a deep breath, relaxing and getting into a positive mindset.
At what point in the process should you talk about salary?
It depends on the situation—sometimes the salary has already been articulated in the job description. Having a candid discussion about salary early on in the interview process can save a lot of time if there’s a total misalignment between what you’re hoping to pay and what the candidate is looking for.
Do you ask personal questions during an interview?
I do like to ask personal questions. I think it’s less about the substance of their answer and more about learning about their true personality. You see when they become happy and engaged and what they thrive on, and you see whether or not they’d be a good cultural fit within the company. What makes them tick? What’s the role of family in their lives? In my company, I encourage people to be multidimensional. I like people that have passions and are curious. It makes my team more dynamic.