What All Businesses Can Learn From The HubSpot Culture Code

An Overview of HubSpot

Hubspot, based in Cambridge, MA., is a company that delivers and sells inbound marketing software. Founded by Brian Halligan and Dharmesh Shah, from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 2016, the company earned $100 million in funding at its launch from companies like Scale Venture Partners, Salesforce, and Fidelity. The company markets its inbound marketing concepts through the use of webinars, viral videos, Twitter and a well-received annual inbound marketing report.


Along with an inbound marketing tool, the HubSpot software includes features for social media management, email marketing, content management, web analytics, landing pages and SEO.

The suite of online inbound marketing tools includes three primary sectors, which are content management, search engine optimization and lead tracking and intelligence functionality. It also integrates with salesforce.com, SUGARCRM, and more.

It’s often ranked as one of the best software products of its kind.

Along with its products, HubSpot is commonly is the spotlight for their talent management strategy, which has earned quite a few accolades over the years.

Unconventional Interviews

FastCompany.com recently spoke with staff members from HubSpot, with a particular focus on their interview strategies. David Cancel, who is responsible for interviewing other potential employees, says he gives interviewees a cup of water. He then watches to see what they do with the trash when they leave. If they throw it away, he sees them as a potentially good fit for the company, and if they leave it, maybe not so much.

Cancel refutes the idea it’s some type of unfair gimmick, telling Fast Company “I’ve tested it over 100 times at this point, and it has always turned out to be pretty accurate for me. The people who didn’t go and reach to take the cup were always the people who weren’t a great cultural fit.”

Cancel has been responsible for hiring more than 100 of HubSpot’s employees since they acquired his own startup, Performable.

While the secret may be out of the bag now, Cancel says it’s just one unconventional method he uses during interviews. The rest he wouldn’t discuss, likely so he can retain his methods in his interview arsenal.

What the tactic speaks to is HubSpot’s efforts to determine whether or not an employee is going to be not just a good skills fit, but a good cultural fit, based on qualitative tests that demonstrate character.

During interviews, Cancel says he likes to get employee started talking about anything—it may be completely unrelated to the job-at-hand. He then watches to see their eyes, body language and more cues that show him what they’re passionate about, and also how they communicate. If there’s a link between the candidate’s passion and something they’d be doing within their potential HubSpot position, he views it favorably.

When asked about traditional interview methods, Cancel said he used to use those tactics, but he kept finding these questions didn’t lead to the building of great teams. The people might have been ideal for the positions on paper, but once they got together with their team, the collaboration and chemistry just wasn’t there.

The HubSpot Culture Code

The HubSpot Culture Code is discussed, admired and even emulated quite a bit in talent management circles. The Culture Code has become so shared and inspiring that the company has a free download of a guide to ways to create the best company culture, based on their efforts.

The idea behind the culture code is that while customers are more attracted to an excellent product, amazing people are more attracted to an equally incredible workplace culture.

The company says that culture is going to happen whether or not it’s planned, so why not work to make it the best?

On a blog published by HubSpot, they highlighted some of the fundamental concepts and principles of their culture code, which make it a standout. Some of these include:

  • Culture is to recruiting as the product is to marketing.
  • Aim to solve for the customer—not only in terms of happiness but also success.
  • Power is gained through the sharing of knowledge in today’s workplace, not hoarding it.
  • Results should matter more than when or where they’re produced.
  • Influence is independent of hierarchy.
  • Great people want direction on where they’re going, not how they should get there.
  • The mistakes of the few shouldn’t lead to penalties for the many.

Other notable facets of the culture code include a dedication to metrics, in fact so much so that it’s on-par with a focus on the mission. There’s an “obsession” with customers, not competitors, and they aim to be radically and uncomfortable transparent, according to their widely-circulated culture presentation. A few other keywords include autonomy, selective and mastery. They also try to espouse a belief in work and life, rather than work vs. life.

HubSpot is so dedicated to cultivating the best possible culture that there’s even a job role entirely focused on this. Katie Burke currently serves as HubSpot’s Vice President of Culture and Experience. According to HubSpot’s website, this means Burke is “responsible for the company’s global employment brand, making culture scale as competitive advantages for HubSpot, and delivering remarkable candidate, employee and alumni experience for HubSpotters around the world.”

Before taking on this interesting position, Burke served as the leader of internal and external communications for HubSpot, through the company’s initial public offering, as a director of the marketing team.

Along with the obvious benefits of an outstanding culture, one of the biggest perks employees cite about working here is the level of autonomy they enjoy. It’s really about being confident employees are going to use their judgment, so they’re given a sense of ownership and quite a bit of freedom to go in their own direction.

They also have fun perks, such as unlimited vacations, and access to the Healthy@HubSpot program, which is an organization-wide wellness initiative that includes access to a gym in Cambridge, fitness reimbursements, access to consultants, classes and more. Mystery Dinners are a fun tradition in which employees meet their coworkers, where an executive hosts each event and everyone can get to know each other in a relaxed setting that’s being paid for by the company. There are also peer-taught classes, tuition reimbursements and a variety of formal and informal programs to cultivate a workplace dedicated to personal and professional growth.

February 14, 2016   Updated :November 16, 2016   company culture, hubspot, hubspot culture   

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