The 2 hardest startup jobs to successfully hire for: lessons learned from analysing 741 startup teams

The 2 hardest startup jobs to successfully hire for and lessons learned from analysing 741 startup teams

Exactly one year ago, we released our Teams feature here at Equalture. This feature allows companies to assess their current team first, before assessing candidates, by making use of neuroscientific games.

In this year, 741 teams were created and analysed on our platform. Of these 741 teams, almost 40% consists of Engineering and Sales teams. And guess what: Engineers and Sales Professionals also turned out to be the two hardest jobs to successfully hire for in startups. In this blog, we summarise the key findings, in order to help you learn from success stories.


Why Engineers and Sales Professionals most often turn out to be mishires

We spoke to 73 of our startup customers, who indicated to struggle with successfully hiring Engineers and Sales Professionals. Ironically enough, the vast majority of these companies had the exact same problem:

  • Sales Professionals often turned out to be a mishire as a result of lacking skills for the job – or in other words: Job fit (can’t sell the product).
  • Engineers often turned out to be a mishire as a result of lacking skills for the working environment – or in other words: Environmental fit


We asked our customers to extract top-performers from the rest of the team, with the following result

Our product allows for a top-performer analysis. This basically means that you can create a new sub-team for the top-performers of a specific team, which enables you to analyse the differences between the top-performers and the rest of the team. In order to do so, customers need to decide who are the top-performers. Here, we advise them to look at someone’s performance, but also the fit with the team. 

In line with our expectations, most top-performer analyses were created for Engineering and Sales teams. And luckily enough, the results also turned out to be quite consistent. 


What distinguished top-performer Sales Professionals from the others

The top-performers within the Sales teams scores significantly higher on games measuring the following traits:

  • Conscientiousness;
  • Problem-solving/critical thinking;
  • Flexibility. 

Now, I think that flexibility was within our expectations. Apart from the fact that flexibility is required in a startup environment, in a sales position this skill helps you to be resilient – dealing with the many no’s on a daily basis. 

Problem-solving/critical thinking turned out to be necessary in order to link a prospect’s challenges to your product, but it also helps in continuously assessing and optimising the sales approach. 

Finally, conscientiousness covers the desire to complete a task well, which translates into being careful, accurate, and planned. This level of being structured helps to keep a clear focus on closing a deal. Surprisingly enough, the ability to prioritise turned out not to be a success predictor for Sales professionals. 


What distinguished top-performer Engineers from the others

The top-performers within the Engineering teams scores significantly higher on games measuring the following traits:

  • Behavioural control;
  • Flexibility. 

Again, I think that flexibility wasn’t a surprise, as startup environments go hand in hand with continuous change. 

Behavioural control is interesting though. Various researches have shown that a decreased behavioural control negatively impacts creativity, but also makes it harder to show goal-oriented behaviours. In other words: Less behavioural control leads to less creativity and less focus on goals to achieve. Now, why is this so important in a startup environment? Well, the reason is actually quite simple. Lots of things change, but there are also lots of impulses, ideas, and distractions. When not being able to deal with this, you won’t be able to stay focused, which impacts productivity, collaboration, and ultimately your job happiness. 


Equalture’s neuroscientific games

Equalture works with neuroscientific games – validated assessments, but in a gamified way. We have several games in our platform, covering lots of skills and personality traits/behaviours that are important to look for, including those that have turned out to be success predictors for Sales Professionals and Engineers. Here you can try on of our games yourself.

Are you curious to learn more about how games can help you to successfully build your Engineering team and Sales team? Then you know where to find us!

Charlotte Melkert Co-Founder and CEO of Equalture in Portrait picture


Cheers, Charlotte

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