The Counterintuitive Hiring Tactic I Finally Used (To Surprising Success)

Here is the holy grail of hiring marketing or business development staff:

“Finding enthusiastic, dedicated, intelligent, hard working, and strategic thinking staff who have the ability, and are willing to listen/learn.”

But hiring is a crapshoot. I could argue that the whole hiring process in our country is broken.

Luckily, I’ve been taught a somewhat counter-intuitive hiring method that has paid huge dividends for me.

I’m going to explain it to you. But first, let me rant about hiring marketing and business development staff.

Our Tragically Broken Hiring System

Everyone coming in to interview has been taught to portray the best version of themselves. There are countless articles that teach candidates how to “play the game” and get hired.

On the other side, those of us who hire seem to fall into three categories:

A. Risk adverse people looking for potential “red flags.” I’ve fallen into this category in the past.

B. People who entirely “trust their gut.”

C. People who employ arbitrary hiring “rules of thumb,” that may or may not be logical.

There are countless articles out there for us as well. They often suggest “hiring for personality and training for skills.” Just imagine all the unemployed curmudgeons out there!

I can’t tell you how many stories I’ve heard of people getting hired for jobs based on a crazy premise.

“Yeah, it was between a glowing personality with no skills or experience and an almost arrogantly confident person with skills coming out their shoes. We went with the glowing personality.”

What?!?! And people are somehow shocked when this ends disastrously.

I feel bad for candidates, the only way to get hired seems to be “playing the game” and hoping the cards land in your favor.

Maybe Don’t Take This Approach To Interviewing

This issue is top of mind when I’m interviewing candidates.

I can’t stand the “fakeness” I experience from candidates.

I’ve had candidates claim they’ve successfully turned around an engineering firm’s fortunes and “innovated themselves” out of a job…in less than a year.  Come on now!

I’ve had to stop candidates to tell them it’s OK to “cut the BS.”

I’ve told Ivy-League-educated candidates they would have to “relearn” how to write.

And those are the people who aren’t “spooked off” by my job ads.

My boss swears I’m a jerk in these interviews. Others say I’m “too honest.”

But shouldn’t the interviewing process be an honest and forthright exchange? The hiring “game” makes that difficult if not impossible.

The Klabunde Method

About a year ago, we were hiring a new business development manager. I was lamenting about the process with my friend, Tim Klabunde.

I explained that we had narrowed it down to two candidates: One with more relevant experience and another who was greener but I perceived to have tremendous long-term potential.

Our little hiring committee was struggling with this decision, almost gridlocked.

Tim, who is at a much larger firm, explained he had hired nine marketers in the last couple years. And he had come up with a method that predicted the best hire 90% of the time.

What was this Klabunde Method?

Step One: Shortlist on experience and skills

Step Two: Hire the candidate with the most positive outlook

Don’t get confused. Tim wasn’t talking about hiring the person with the “best personality” or “most likable.”

He was not using personality as a selection factor. He was focusing in on the candidates’ outlook. It’s a nuanced, but important difference.

His reasoning was this. The job changes from day to day. One day you’re working on something creative and fulfilling. But the next day you might be dealing with some arduous task or situation you’ll probably hate.

People without a high degree of positivity don’t thrive in that environment.

And when I thought about it, it made a lot of sense. I brought this tactic back to my committee and solidified my choice.

The Klabunde Method Results

You can’t argue with results. It’s been almost a year. Our new business developer is getting along great with the team, has brought in new clients, is absorbing an outrageous amount of information, and currently maintains a 90%+ success rate with proposals.

The Bottom Line

I’m now a believer in the Klabunde Method. If you are looking to hire marketing or business development staff, it’s certainly worth a try.

Now It’s Your Turn

Got a hiring or interviewing story that will make us cringe? Share your story in the comments.


  1. This is a great hiring suggestion, and will go into our future decisions. I expect it works best for positive organizations with longevity in mind (and who would want to work for an organization that doesn’t have those values.)

  2. Annette Carlson says

    “90%+ success rate with proposals.” Really? 90% ?

  3. I like this approach, do you have recommendations on what you would ask or how you would recommend ascertaining a person’s level of positive outlook? We are in a similar position with two candidates that are pretty even on skills, we even had them take DISC assessments and those came back very comparable as well so we are struggling to determine the best decision, if we could we’d hire them both. One candidate is more upbeat than the other, but as you said personality and outlook are two different things.

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