Closing The Gap

The go-to interview question this Twitter executive always asks before making a new hire

Twitter CMO and Head of People Leslie Berland
Photo credit: Twitter

As Twitter's Chief Marketing Officer and Head of People, Leslie Berland is responsible for steering the overall direction of Twitter's brand and internal work culture.

This includes, she tells CNBC Make It, launching campaigns that build on Twitter's reputation and how it connects with people in the real world. Her most recent campaign, "Twitter is," launched on Sept. 9. It features over 100 tweets plastered across subway walls in New York City and San Francisco with users explaining what Twitter is to them.

"What's very unique about Twitter is that we don't define the brand," she says. "The people who use Twitter do."

Berland was the company's first CMO and has held her position for more than three years now.

To see if someone is a fit to hire, she says she relies on one simple go-to question.

Twitter's CMO and Head of People Leslie Berland.
Photo credit: Twitter

"I usually start with a very open-ended question like, 'Tell me everything I should know about you,'" she says. "It's always interesting to see where people start a conversation and what they focus on. What I don't ask is, 'Take me through your resume.'"

Asking this open question, Berland explains, allows her to hear an in-depth response from the candidate about the experiences they value most. "I always enjoy having the person sort of drive the conversation and bring forth the things they care about or they think are most important," she says. "I think it's very telling."

Though related skill sets and expertise are important areas to discuss in an interview, Berland emphasizes that they aren't enough to win her over.

"When people come to work at Twitter, they obviously have amazing talent and amazing experience," she says. "But I very much look for heart and soul and people who care about other people, people who have empathy, people who love working with teams and people who love to collaborate."

These factors, she says, are "often very clear through an interview and through a conversation."

According to bestselling management author and CNBC contributor Suzy Welch, Berland's open-ended question is a fairly popular one to ask. To respond effectively, she says, you need to not only talk about your life story in a way that relates to the job you're interviewing for, but you also need to authentically tell your story in a way that goes beyond your resume.

"Use this opportunity to actually say something like, 'The one thing that doesn't show up on my resume is my values,'" she suggests.

Though this question may seem like an easy one to answer, Welch says you should never "wing it," as "it's an incredible opportunity to differentiate yourself" from the competition.

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