How Washington’s Best Employers Hire

Susan Hall

Tech companies fared well in Glassdoor’s “Top 25 Companies for Work-Life Balance” released last week, including Agilient Technologies, SAS Institute, National Instruments, LinkedIn and more.

The Puget Sound Business Journal also ranked Washington’s Best Workplaces, but went a step further, asking its winners what they look for in new hires. The answers, many of them from the Seattle area’s numerous tech startups, are enlightening. Among them:

Melissa Acton-Buzard, co-founder, Chameleon Technologies Inc. (tech staffing): “We look for people who will deliver hands-on, personal, and high quality service to both our clients and our staff. A strong work ethic is very important, as is a personality that will thrive in our culture.”

Mike Fridgen, CEO, (online shopping engine): “The top qualities I look for are 1) optimistic about our mission, 2) self-motivated with an internal drive to improve, 3) passion and excitement for building great products, 4) has a strong point of view, 5) collaborative, 7) open minded.”

Jesse Rothstein, CEO and Co-Founder, ExtraHop Networks Inc. (application performance management): “We hire people first and foremost on the basis of the ‘startup DNA’ that we recognize in them — these people must want to make a big impact. … We’re looking for A-players, but also a couple other things that we believe set our company apart from a cultural standpoint. People need to demonstrate a passion for customer success, which is admittedly hard to discern in an interview, but we try our best. We’re looking for those people who recognize that our success as a company, and their success as an employee, is tied up with helping our customers meet and exceed their aspirations in purchasing an ExtraHop solution. So far, we’ve done this well, as our customers to date attest to. And then, thirdly, we’re looking for people with a sense of humor. In fact, we put that as a requirement on every job posting.”

Jeff Hall, President, iClick Inc. (USB drives): “Self–motivated, a high belief in caring for customers, a team player who works well with others, an enjoyable person, someone who has been successful in other areas of their life, a good thinker, and a good communicator.”

Ken Hunt, President, Produxs (Web and mobile applications): “We like people who bring a sense of ownership and responsibility to their work. People who can comfortably express their opinions and are willing to present a counter-argument, but do so in a professional, productive, and positive manner.”

Dara Khosrowshahi, President and CEO, Expedia Inc. (online travel booking): “I look for people who are passionate about their teams and developing people. I ask them about teams throughout their career, how long they worked together, things like that. You want leaders who have followership. I also look for raw smarts. We have some really, really intelligent folks at this company, and you have to be able to hold your own here.”

Charles Seybold, CEO, LiquidPlanner (online project management software): “Personal integrity and true grit come to mind immediately. Startups are not for politically minded ladder-climbers — they are for people who like to roll up their sleeves and get things done. I really like doers, people who quietly take pride in a job well done and are more interested in helping their team than showing off what they did. I look for people who have high personal standards who will gladly help others learn. I like the craftsmen mindset; I like people who care about the people who will use the product they build. Now add to this a healthy curiosity and a great sense of humor and you probably have a strong hire. I’ve come to believe that a leader can never shortcut the process of hiring because you have an obligation to the team to never compromise on your commitment to these qualities. If you want to build an organization that grows and learns, you’ll need to hire people that can grow and learn; this point is so subtle and profound, I don’t want to spoil it by saying more!”

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