At HubSpot, we are fortunate enough to be known for the products we build (CRM, marketing, sales, and services software for scaling businesses) and our culture, thanks in part to our Culture Code and organizations like Glassdoor and Comparably and Fortune for recognizing us as a Best Place to Work.
But because we’re well known for our culture, our team is inundated with requests for informational interviews, and our recruiters are….well, busy, always. Because we’re well known for our culture, our team is constantly being asked for information interviews. We recognize that we are extremely fortunate to be growing in a pandemic, and our recruiters and hiring managers just don’t have the time to do hundreds of informational interviews. In true HubSpot transparency fashion, we wanted to share what we know with anyone who is interested.
So below you’ll find the helpful hints and tricks we share when anyone reaches out looking for some guidance. We crowdsourced questions on LinkedIn, so big thanks to everyone who responded-many of your questions are reflected here. This approach also foots with our commitment to inclusion (everyone should have insight they can access, regardless of whether or not they know someone who currently works or worked here), so happy reading!
What is it actually like to work at HubSpot? I’m obviously extremely biased here, but I think it’s pretty great. With that said, a few things to keep in mind as you consider applying to HubSpot:
One of our core values is autonomy, so we hire great people and give them a lot of flexibility in how they do their jobs every day. But there are two things people often misinterpret on autonomy. The first is that it means you get to do whatever you want when you get here. We have really high expectations of ourselves at HubSpot, and we want the best for our customers, partners, and prospects as we grow. So you have a lot of flexibility in autonomy in how you approach your work, but you are held accountable for results and impact. The second misconception is that HubSpot is still a startup. We are now 3900+ employees globally, with more than 95,000 customers, so while we still move extremely fast and give folks a lot of autonomy, if you’re looking for a garage-style startup where it’s you and one other person making big, sweeping decisions for the company — that’s not us. We are a scale-up, and that includes the benefit of a great global brand and a whole lot of upside and growth, but it also means you have to be thoughtful about scale in what you build internally, so I always try to be transparent that we need folks with entrepreneurial spirit, but who are excited and energized by the global brand and business you’re supporting in your role.
Make sure you love the work, not just the idea of the culture. Sometimes people read our reviews and get super excited about the culture without thinking enough about the role they are taking. If you’re joining the sales team, you’re going to have incredible products to sell and great qualified leads to work thanks to the marketing team, but you’re going to have a quota to go along with those things, so you need resilience and creativity and empathy to connect with prospects. If you’re joining our West Coast Support team remotely, you are joining an incredible team of folks, and part of the reason we market the West Coast element is that we need someone to cover that time zone for our customers, so you’ll be expected to be on call or chat during afternoons PST. Our engineering team doesn’t have a separate QA team, so you’re responsible for the code you ship and to our customers-with great power comes great responsibility across the business. For many people that’s a huge plus, but it’s worth noting what that actually means in practice coming in the door.
What does HubSpot look for in an applicant? We really try wherever possible to specify any guardrails for a role in the job description without getting too overly prescriptive on things like years of experience, which can often deter great candidates from applying. With that said, for many of our jobs, we get hundreds, and in some cases, thousands, of applications for a given role, so a few things to note:
We are really serious about hiring people who add to our culture versus people who fit it, so take the time to read our Culture Code and think of examples of how you embody our culture in your daily life. Emphasize how you embody our culture in your application materials where possible. The examples do not have to be specific to working at HubSpot-it is far better that they are authentic and reflect who you are as a human being.
With that said, we can’t hire everyone who would add to our culture, which is a good problem to have, so a few things to help folks stand out in the process regardless of which role you’re interviewing for:
- Do Your Homework: We actually make it pretty easy for candidates to brush up on HubSpot. A few of my favorite sources for information, context, employee stories, and specifics on roles include: HubSpotLife social accounts on both Twitter and Instagram, our Careers blog (which has a ton of tips and interviews with folks on specific teams), our Product and Engineering blog, our Culture Happens podcast, HubSpot Academy content (which is completely free and self-guided) for product knowledge and or learning more about how we help organizations grow better, the HubSpot Blog, and many of our executives regularly share updates, open roles, tips, tricks, and anecdotes on LinkedIn, so pick a few folks from the team you’re interested in joining and check out their content before applying.
- Be Open to Feedback: Our recruiters and interviewers genuinely want to help you along the way, so listen to feedback they give you on video interviews, demos, role plays, and incorporate it in future interviews-this reflects humility and adaptability, which are two things we look for across the board.
- Think Like a Customer: Regardless of whether you’re in a customer-facing role, understanding how our products are used, our mission, and the market we serve is super useful in the interview process. We’ve had great user experience researchers and designers make suggestions on free user onboarding based on their own experiences on our site, marketers share innovative ideas for future content based on what they see/read/listen to on our channels, and sales reps use our free CRM to organize their job search. All of those things help you develop the empathy and customer-centricity we look for in folks who join our team.
How Can Folks Who Are Switching Careers Stand Out in a Crowded Field?
- Do Fewer Things Better: We have folks apply for 12 roles and get super frustrated they don’t get interviews for any of them. That’s not actually your best approach to land a job at HubSpot. If you’re switching careers or haven’t worked in tech before, that’s okay — I didn’t either before I started at HubSpot. But rather than applying for as many jobs as possible, be really intentional about which roles fit your skill set the best and do a decent amount of research up front to help inform your application — doing so will make it easier to tailor your resume and application materials to the roles you’re most interested in. Related, a word on not applying for dozens of roles here for context.
- Connect the Dots: When I’m applying for a role, I try to think about dividing a page into two equal parts: the first side (on the left) is the skills I bring to the table as an applicant. The second side (on the right) is what the job description says the role entails with specific bullets on the skills or attributes for a desired applicant. Then I ask myself if the application I’m submitting connects those dots directly. Often times there are gaps that don’t seem obvious to you because you live them every day. As an example, when I applied to HubSpot my personal social media wasn’t very active, so it wouldn’t be obvious in a quick Google search that that was something I was well-versed in, nor was it clear on my resume. I used this simple exercise to recraft the bullets on my application and cover letter to reflect that experience and skill so it wasn’t left to the recruiter or hiring manager to either glean that themselves or find out later in the process.
- Show don’t tell: I always get a bit frustrated when a candidate tells me he is “really interested in writing more” or “super passionate about events.” Then you ask the last thing they published or the last event they organized (even if either was in their personal life) and get a blank stare. If you’re someone who is making a career leap, use what you can to demonstrate that your passion for this space converts to action. I don’t think people should overthink this exercise — in the examples below, I would simply consider publishing a Medium post or spending more time crafting content on LinkedIn leading up to my application so I have fresh relevant examples to share. Or in the events instance, I might write a quick outline on how I rethought an in-person event to be virtual during COVID-19 — those little gestures go a long way to show that you’re someone who matches intent with impact.
I asked three folks who have recently accepted jobs at HubSpot without previously working in tech for their advice to include here and here’s what they said, in no particular order:
- Don’t slack on the prep work — read the Culture Code and really do your homework prior to the initial phone screen or video interview as a chance to stand out.
- Research your interviewers-an (awesome!) recent new hire suggested researching your interview panel to make your connection and conversation more personal in nature.
- Look for articles from the team you’re seeking to join-a recent hire to our Customer Success Manager role said this article from the amazing Lisa Harte made him feel like he was reading a casual conversation with a friend, and referenced the HubSpot blog on this topic for additional context on terms and expectations.
- Don’t count yourself out: imposter syndrome is real, don’t let it stand in your way from applying and from believing you can land the role.
- Let your personality shine through on Zoom-don’t be afraid to be yourself and to convey your passion for the role in your interviews. On a similar note, make the conversation a true conversation, not just a one way street — doing so allows you to showcase critical thinking and thoughtful feedback.
What Self-Development Resources Should Someone Consider Completing to Make Themselves a More Competitive Candidate? The answer to this really depends on the role you’re most interested in, but HubSpot Academy content would be the first place I would start because learning more about HubSpot also makes you a more attractive candidate to HubSpot partner agencies and/or to customers who are hiring folks, so it’s a win-win for you as a candidate, even if you don’t end up working within our organization.
But I asked Lauren DeSoiza, Director of our North America Customer Support team, for her insights, and in addition to Academy content, she called out the HTML and CSS resource from Khan Academy as helpful preparation for a role in Support if folks are interested.
If you’re looking to land a role in engineering at HubSpot, we do talk to many folks who have completed coding boot camps recently (General Assembly, Resilient Coders, and App Academy are all recent examples from applicants). Recruiter Sarah Magner’s advice was if you go the coding boot camp route, that’s fantastic — just make sure your project or relevant coding experience really resonates with you personally. As an example, many sample projects are things like “build a calculator” or “generate your daily horoscope,” which are great for learning basic coding techniques. But one thing we look for in our engineers is curiosity and a growth mindset, so rather than just checking the box on your sample project or exercise, consider how you can make your unique commitment to being a great engineer stick out.
One other word of advice: there are a whole bunch of great training programs out there to prep for roles in tech: Reforge was started by a HubSpot alum for product management and marketing roles, some of our associate UX rotational program folks have taken User Experience classes at General Assembly, and there are countless more similar programs, seminars, and courses globally. But these programs require a significant investment of time and money, and there’s no single path that is a Golden Ticket to HubSpot or any other company. So if you’re not entirely sure what you want to do, I recommend starting with HubSpot Academy and listening to podcasts or reading books by folks in the space to get started.
Why might someone not like working at HubSpot? Someone asked me on LinkedIn, and I think it’s a more than fair question. A few examples stick out to me:
- HubSpot’s pace is not for everyone. We have monthly quotas for almost everything from retention to Support metrics to recruitment metrics, and just in general, our management team, founders operate at a velocity unlike other companies. I happen to like it — it’s energizing to me, but I think for some people it feels exhausting.
- HubSpot’s commitment to autonomy is also not for everyone. To be clear, we provide a lot of resources and training and onboarding for folks to help them succeed in their role so this isn’t at all a sink or swim culture. If you read Glassdoor reviews or LinkedIn posts, you’ll see that our onboarding team is super friendly, intentional, thoughtful, and inclusive in training folks on our product and helping them learn about our company and our culture. But once you’re in role, we give people a lot of latitude in how they work and a lot of freedom to innovate. Some people love that; others wish we gave a lot more clear guidance and instruction and structure, so it’s worth noting it here in case that’s not your cup of tea.
- Finally, we’re not a startup anymore. HubSpot is a scale-up. We are a global company and we move incredibly fast. But we are still a public company that is growing, and as a result you have to both be good at and enjoy cross-team collaboration, be able to manage stakeholders to get things done if you want to ship something company-wide, and be thoughtful about business implications for decisions you make. If you’re someone who dreams of a five person startup where you can always change things on a dime, HubSpot right now likely isn’t your dream gig. To me, we have the good things about a startup (speed, entrepreneurial spirit, lofty mission and goals) and the advantages of a scale-up (established brand and business, strong operating model, strong balance sheet to support our growth), but I recognize some people want a true garage-style startup experience, and that’s not us right now.
How does HubSpot evaluate people’s performance? This question was submitted by a few folks on LinkedIn, and the short answer is that it depends a lot by team, but there are some organization-wide principles I’m happy to share that we follow. First and foremost, we start with company-wide goals then compasses (essentially, navigational guidance on where we are heading) for each of our three organizational pillars (company, customer, and product). That’s your first stop if you’re ever confused as to what you should be working on and what really matters in the organization, and it’s introduced to everyone in new hire training and available to anyone, anytime, at any level for internal use and reference.
Most team goals flow from that document and the associated compasses, and most individual teams have both qualitative and quantitative goals to measure people’s performance on an ongoing basis. Ideally, managers and tech leads give people feedback regularly, so it’s part of every day work and life at HubSpot, but to ensure that’s the case we do formal reviews twice per calendar year and an upward feedback survey for folks to complete on their manager or tech lead once per year so feedback flows both ways for everyone involved.
Our performance review system is designed to be simple, fair, and equitable. It starts with a self-review, and includes a written and live discussion around performance and growth. Candidly, it used to be that we left it up to teams to decide how/when/where exactly these happened as part of our commitment to autonomy, but over the past year we’ve moved to a unified model so it’s clear, transparent, and systematic for everyone.
Some folks asked how our compensation and performance philosophies are linked, the high level answer there is as follows:
- Everyone at HubSpot is a shareholder — we want to create long-term value for our customers, and in turn for our employees and shareholders as well, so equity is part of our compensation for all employees.
- We reward exceptional performance in a wide variety of ways, ranging from peer bonuses ($100 each quarter you can give to anyone to reward great work)to kudos in Slack to team-based recognition and company-wide awards. Pay increases and equity grants are one component of that recognition strategy.
- We look twice per year at compensation fairness on key metrics (including geographic location for fairness, but also inclusion metrics such as gender, race, age, and tenure) to ensure we are thoughtful and inclusive in our approach to compensation.
How does HubSpot deal with culture challenges? This was a great LinkedIn submission, essentially saying hey we hear a lot about great cultures, but not a lot about how your culture responds when things are tested or challenged. I think there are two kinds of challenges in a given culture: one is normal course of business change. A good example of something like that would be when someone leaves the company and/or we re-organize or re-shuffle the business in some way that aligns our goals and priorities. A recent example that comes to mind was when we announced we would unite our entire Flywheel team (Marketing, Sales, Services, and Revenue Operations) under one single leader and organization, but given our growth and how fast things change around here, it can also include mini reshuffling of teams and/or someone leaving the business. In those instances, we try to lead with the business rationale behind the decision, infuse transparency wherever it’s possible to do so, and over-communicate to folks, with heavy reliance on our directors and managers to assist. But in parallel, we also try to normalize an element of change around here — after all, that’s part of being adaptable, which is one of our core values.
But those are normal course of business challenges, what about something that doesn’t fall in that bucket? The last year included COVID-19 and Black Lives Matter, both macro events in the world with a profound impact on our customers, partners, employees, and candidates. I think what most folks would tell you is we didn’t get it perfect, but that we led with empathy and adapted quickly when we got it wrong. In addition, during times of crisis, we over-indexed on communications and transparency, added more region-specific time slots to ensure folks in JAPAC saw and heard from us live, and tried to really lean in with empathy.
But let’s say someone wants an example of a truly internal cultural challenge — that’s where our commitment to data comes in. We do a regular survey of the entire organization called our Employee Net Promoter Score (ENPS for short) that asks key questions on how we are doing and where we fall short. Surveying employees quarterly isn’t unique at all, but how we operationalize and action the data is — we release the data to the entire company, alongside the raw commentary, and work with teams and leaders to publish action plans rooted on this feedback. Given this mechanism, we tend to catch culture challenges that might pop up regionally or within a team or sub-team pretty quickly and address them, which I think is pretty rare.
All this brings me to my final point, which is life at HubSpot is human. It’s not all unicorns and rainbows. I’ve had bad days here, I’ve had frustrating conversations, I’ve been annoyed with a lack of progress on things, and I don’t agree every day with my manager (nor does he with me!). To me, our culture has never been about perfection, it’s always been about progress. I work with really smart people who I respect and really kind people who I admire. I work on problems that interest me, and I love that our culture believes in and invests heavily in people and culture.
And yet, we still employ wonderful human beings in all their imperfection. If you come to work at HubSpot, you will have a human experience with a manager, team, and culture that isn’t perfect. Our goal is to create an environment where everyone can do their best work, but our path to get there isn’t perfect, so I recommend being energized and excited by our culture, but not anticipating that it’s perfect by any stretch.
What’s the best way to build visibility with the hiring team and/or get insight into future roles if there aren’t current openings that fit my skillset? I thought about the best way to respond to this, and figured using two real life examples might be most useful:
- If I were looking for a job on our brand new Revenue Operations (RevOps) team, I would start by following Alison Elworthy, Channing Ferrer, Mark Znutas, Erik Swenson, Akia Obas, Bryan Hoy, Alex Burns, and Annie Ingram on LinkedIn-they are all leaders within that org, so learning what they post and how they are thinking about things will help me stay connected and hear about roles without refreshing the jobs page regularly. If I were applying for an analyst role, I’d take a closer look at the typical skill set required for a given role and consider topping off my knowledge with a quick refresher tutorial for example on Looker to keep my skills fresh and ready, particularly after a holiday break. I’d similarly considering either amplifying content from operational leaders I admire, creating my own, and or finding ways to help the leaders I follow at HubSpot based on my own network and connections, then apply for one key role that really fits my skill set and follow-up with a note to Erik if for example it was a sales operations role or with Annie if the role fell in Services Enablement.
- If I were looking for a role as a Product Manager, just based on what I see on my social feed right now, I would consider joining this webinar and watch this video from Nancy Riley (VP of Ecosystem) and Kerry Munz (VP of our Revenue Product Org Engineering) to get a sense of how HubSpot prioritizes inclusion and celebrates International Women’s Day along with getting a sense of product leadership personally. Then I might check out the Product Blog for articles written by existing product managers at HubSpot and also to get a basic sense of how the product, UX, and engineering orgs partner before reading the HubSpot news blog to understand how the new marketing contacts model might feel to me if I were an existing customer. I would do that type of research before crafting my resume and cover letter, along with doing some basic research on a few of the General Managers (for example, Ying Chen or Nicholas Holland) to get a sense of the senior leaders I might work for in that role. Hope that helps for context, thanks Nick for the great question on LinkedIn!
What work is HubSpot doing to reach candidates from marginalized, underserved communities that may not have a wide professional network yet, particularly at the entry level? This was a submitted question from Deanna Nwosu, so thanks Deanna for the thoughtful question.
A few things to summarize our efforts in this space:
- First Gens in Tech: this year was our fifth annual event celebrating First Generation folks considering careers in technology. We invite anyone who identifies as first generation to join us for Slack Q&As, panels, resume reviews, networking, and expert advice. This year was our first time doing the event virtually, and we had over 700 folks join us, so we’ll certainly be doing again even bigger and better next year.
- The Center for Digital Business at Howard is going to be focused entirely on supporting the next generation of Black business leaders in marketing, sales, and services. We are proud to partner with Howard to ensure students get the access, content, networking, and support they need to consider careers in tech if they are interested in doing so.
- Partnerships with Hack Diversity, Resilient Coders, and Treehouse, to name a few of the organizations we partner with specifically to support our Black and LatinX talent pipeline.
- Marketing our roles on POCIT, Remote Woman, and sharing as much content as we possibly can on all of our channels to explain our roles, answer questions, and help familiarize folks with HubSpot and tech.
- Finally, our entry level recruitment strategy has strong foundational roots in helping folks interested in networking with our team. As an example, Handshake is a great tool we use on campuses to connect with students in affinity groups to ensure they get to know our team.
There are a whole host of other things we do in the broader diversity and inclusion space, but hopefully this helps summarize a few of the things nearest and dearest to my heart that we do on this front.
How do you evaluate candidates based on potential?
This was another great question submitted by Deanna. I addressed the advice part to folks to stand out above, but on evaluation and assessment, a few things we do specifically on this front:
- Train our hiring managers: It’s not enough to hire for potential, you also have to coach for potential, and our managers play a critical role on both sides of this equation. Given that, we do regular self-paced trainings for hiring managers on how to source, interview, hire, and coach for potential to build a great and high performing team.
- Interview for skills: Every role at HubSpot has associated competencies we are interviewing for, which allows us to really push people on what are “must haves” for a given role versus “nice to haves.” Skills-based interviewing, particularly when accompanied by opportunities for people to demonstrate potential (such as a role play, which we do for many roles, a quick exercise, which we do for Support, and a quick Loom or Google Doc summarizing how you might tackle an issue or challenge for the People Operations team) ideally sets the stage for a thoughtful, inclusive process globally for all of our candidates and allows us to actively identify great potential in our candidates.
- Reward and recognize managers who do this well: Note that this is something we need to do a lot more of, so that’s on my personal list to spend more time doing this year. Hiring and promoting folks for potential is a critical ingredient to our ability to scale globally, so it’s personally and professionally so important to me, thanks for the thoughtful question!
How Can Recent Graduates Stand Out in Applying to HubSpot?
For this section, I asked for help from our Senior Manager of Global Community and University Partnerships, Colleen Grant. Her three best pieces of advice and resources are:
- Align Your Priorities: Before starting your job search it’s important to think about what matters most to you as you begin your career. When you picture your first full time job, what sort of things are you envisioning that bring you energy? This could include job location, autonomy, company values, use of a preferred skill, etc. As soon as you narrow down these core attributes it will be easier to evaluate all of the positions available to you and see where you would be able to provide the most value. A good example is “problem solving” in Support-it’s a key priority in the job description, so really think about whether you enjoy and thrive in solving challenges for others before you apply and tailor your resume accordingly with that interest.
- Do Your Research Early: If you’re anything like me, you want to pretend that graduation is a mythical thing and that you’ll be able to stay in school forever. Either way, it’s important to include post-graduation planning early to make sure that you have as many opportunities available to you as possible. Every company has a slightly different hiring timeline for new grads. At HubSpot, we even have different hiring timelines by department, but in either situation planning ahead is your best bet. Start the summer before you graduate so you know exactly what you have to plan for and submit when: specifics on our approach by department, team, and role can be found here.
- Adaptability is Key: You already know that adaptability is key at HubSpot, but it’s even more important for entry-level candidates. Make sure you prep well for your “why this role” question if you’re fortunate enough to get an interview, and if you do interview and the recruiter recommends considering another role, keep an open mind. We know this can feel frustrating, but our recruiters’ job is to work hard to find a great match for you within a wonderful team at HubSpot, so remaining adaptable to other roles will increase the likelihood we find you a role at HubSpot.
Now that I’ve reviewed all the formal stuff, here are a few bonus tips that you can take or leave:
- Be kind to recruiters, coordinators, front desk team members, and folks kind enough to help you along the way: this is true at HubSpot, but also anywhere you interview. The world is smaller than it seems sometimes, and you never know when your kindness will come back to help you, even if it’s not for this role.
- Be kind to yourself: We all (myself included) get our hopes up and attach a ton of importance to one dream role or thing, so much so that if it doesn’t work out, it feels crushing. It’s a global pandemic, an incredibly competitive job market, and you had the courage to go for a role-that’s a win unto itself.
- Be realistic in your expectations for feedback: We get tens of thousands of applications each month along with a whole lot of Tweets, LinkedIn requests, emails, voicemails, you name it. In addition, folks request a ton of detailed feedback when they didn’t get a role, and that’s just not feasible. We do our very best to provide feedback for folks who interview face to face, but manage your expectations going in that no one can provide perfect and detailed feedback to everyone globally.
Best of luck with your search, and truly, thanks for your interest in HubSpot. I run a team of folks who love helping people, so if it were up to us, we’d chat with anyone who wants to know more about life at HubSpot. But part of my job is making sure people on our team have balance outside of work, and I have to lead the way there, so now anyone who wants it gets an informational “interview,” Medium style, and you don’t even have to deal with how awkward I am on phone calls. Best of luck in your search, and thanks to everyone who submitted questions*-I sincerely appreciate it and your interest in HubSpot!
*The one question I didn’t answer was submitted by our Director of Sales Enablement and Productivity, who asked me to identify my favorite HubSpot employee. It’s an under-rated trait at HubSpot to have a great sense of humor, so I want to acknowledge that I adore his humor even as I ignore his question here.