What does Christina Hall do all day? She works it, literally. As Senior Vice President and Chief People Officer of LinkedIn, the HR expert helps guide over 15,000 employees, making sure they’re happy, healthy, and stocked with homemade chili (more on that later). But despite being a VIP at the world’s biggest career portal, Christina knows there’s no one path to a dream job… and that scooping ice cream can be just as valuable for success as a prestigious C-suite internship. Here’s what Christina said about boardroom ambitions and impactful interviews when we clicked the Connect button. 

Can you describe your current job?

My priorities are to ensure we maintain a positive workplace culture, and empower our people to do their life’s best work.

What was your college major? Did you feel like it was necessary for your field?

I studied political science and history at Stanford… I learned a ton and enjoyed the journey [but] every path to success is unique… I don’t think there’s one right way to get into the “people profession.” I think you must have a passion for the work, and enjoy motivating people.

Any advice on first jobs?

When I was in law school, with some hefty loans to repay and a vision of taking corporate law by storm, I was eager to figure out how to get the big firms to pick me from the ever-growing pile of resumes. I turned to my good friend’s father, an experienced lawyer with decades of interviewing under his belt.  His advice: start and end with a firm handshake and a clear statement of interest. That way, even the quickest interview is “bookended” with a strong sentiment.

After landing a job with a top firm and becoming an interviewer myself, I realized the depth of [that] wisdom. If you introduce yourself well, you have a more receptive audience. That helps you stand out.

What do you love about your work?

Working in a place where people take their jobs seriously is impactful. It’s wonderful to be in a role where I get to think about how I can make LinkedIn the best place it can be for those people. I feel like I make a huge impact.

What internships did you do prior to your first job?

Since my parents were public school teachers, I was always looking to make extra money over the summer, so I never had an internship. Instead, I had LOTS of different jobs. I was an ice cream scooper, a waitress, a lifeguard, a swim coach, a runner in the state capital, a camp counselor, and about 17 other things… [That] gave me such great real world training.

What is the best piece of advice you ever received?

I’ve received some great advice about public speaking. I think it’s really important to be able to convey emotion to your audience if you’re in a leadership role. The advice is threefold:

    1. Know your stuff
    2. Know your audience
    3. Know your passion

If you channel these three things, public speaking is a lot more impactful

Is there any part of your role that we’d be surprised to know?

The toughest part of my job is when I encounter and work through employee tragedies–when an employee or a close family member is dealing with a serious illness or even death – and how to help them through that.  On the lighter side of things, I do find that my annual role as a judge for our R&D chili cook-off is a challenging one. Tasting 20+ chilis in 30 minutes takes nerves (and a stomach) of steel.