Help Wanted? Traits for Success

The hiring market is back. Or so it seems – there’s much more chatter about finding and keeping the ‘right’ people.

We hire one or two people at a time, and inevitably invest a lot of time in making the match: multiple interviews, writing and thinking tests, and self-administered surveys that help us match candidates to the best team. Our success rate: more than 80% lately, which is much better than the standard corporate trope of just one in three who go the distance. (This stat holds true, even after we say goodbye to a long-timer, who has been a great employee for six riveting years of market ups and downs, successful acquisitions and too many crazy moments to count. Good sailing to you, Dan.)

So I was interested in this piece about HubSpot’s hiring for sales people – since HubSpot is in what I call the ‘volume hiring’ game. They‘re in fast-growth mode, and typically have a dozen or more posts to fill.

I should have known (but smiled anyhow), when I heard that the HubSpot geeks did some ‘regression analysis’ on what makes for a good hire – and liked it even better when they realized that the elements that scored highest weren’t actually most important.

The two things they assumed would be important but weren’t so key: past success, and objection handling. The PR business is a lot like sales – what isn’t, really? – because it’s our job to understand what drives people to buy, and how to overcome objections, among other things.

What was important wasn’t initially on HubSpot’s map: coachability.

We haven’t called it coachability, but in fact, we’ve always looked for that. Along with how people listen. Whether they take responsibility. Whether they own up to failure. Whether they like initiating, or following. Whether they make waves. If they have an ego, or prefer to be in the back of the room, helping our clients and their own co-workers shine.

There’s room for everyone, of course. But it’s pretty clear which traits we’d score highest, if we did our own regression analysis.

And yes, we’re hiring. So if you’re ready to innovate, initiate, and take responsibility, I’d love to hear from you. (Reach out to us at

If you’re on the other side, and hiring, and want to swap ideas about how you hire, and what works for you, I’m always eager. It’s definitely an art.