How a Top Apple Exec Hires

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As senior vice president of Apple’s retail arm, Angela Ahrendts needs to do a lot of hiring, often for mission-critical positions. That places a lot of pressure on her interviewing technique: If she asks the wrong questions, she might end up with employees who don’t fit well within an organization that prides itself on operating like a well-oiled machine.

In a new LinkedIn posting, Ahrendts walks the reader through a typical job interview, in which she tries to judge the candidate’s personality across three axes:

  • Me vs. We
  • IQ vs. EQ
  • Left Brain vs. Right Brain

The first axis, “Me vs. We,” involves Ahrendts judging the candidate’s aptitude for collaboration with colleagues. “I ask simple questions about their family, friends, peers, personal interests, sports, spirituality, and community to glean a better understanding of their true motivation and leadership attributes,” she wrote. “This is usually the easy part, because people love to talk about themselves.”

The next, “IQ vs. EQ,” involves a series of questions designed to evaluate the candidate’s emotional and intellectual balance, and if they “truly care about the impact they make on people.”

The last part, “Left Brain vs. Right Brain,” delves into whether the candidate prefers to rely on intellect or instinct when making decisions. Questions about how the candidate uses his or her spare time, and what they studied in school, are particularly helpful in this context.

The posting also features some of the specific questions that Ahrendts likes to ask. If you’re interested in seeing how one of the tech world’s most prominent executives judges potential hires, it’s well worth the read.

5 Responses to “How a Top Apple Exec Hires”

  1. Surajit

    The questions Ahrendts asks are truly horrendous. She actually quizzes applicants about their family and their spirituality? How are those remotely related to job duties? All she is doing is tailoring questions to her unconscious biases. She is also opening herself up for a lawsuit.

    As a hiring manager, I would not dream of asking such irrelevant, unconscionable questions. As an applicant, I would not be at all comfortable working for such a clueless manager. How on earth are such questions acceptable?

  2. Jeff Lewis

    I think the other posters are missing the point (and the wording).

    She not suggesting you grill the potential employee for details of their friends and relationships – nor for the *religion* (which is illegal). She’s suggesting you get them to chat about their social life in a general way.

    Similarly, she’s talking about *spirituality* which isn’t the same thing as religion. She looking for whether a person has a strong sense of empathy, a sense of society as a larger thing as opposed to being about what you personally can get from it and whether the person has a broader ethic or higher aspirations. (And no – by higher I don’t mean ‘God’.. I mean like being into charity and helping others).

    I agree up to a point with this approach – my concern is pragmatic: some people can be highly productive and non-disruptive without having these traits. Other people start off a little shy and grow into the company. I’ve found that a lot of HR people just use shortcuts like this to skip getting to really know the person – it’s a filter, not a discovery process.

  3. Robert

    There is no preparation for these type of questions, that’s what makes them unique and valuable. As a business owner I need to know if you are a good investment. So many people study and read information about interviews to get prepared, and then too often they lie their way into a position that they don’t fit in.

    Asking these questions allow me to get to the core of who you are. Can I rely on you to be a self starter, are you eager to learn, do you take responsibility for what you do regardless to if it was right or wrong. Do you have humility, are you able to work with or without your team to reach a common goal and feel successful even if you don’t receive kudos. Etc…

    Just because your a hiring manager or whatever you are, it doesn’t mean you hire qualified people, it can only mean you a fulfilling your responsibility.