A Recipe for Hiring: Four Key Attributes

According to Invesp’s Customer Acquisition Vs.Retention Costs – Statistics And Trends research, it costs five times more to attract a new customer, than to keep an existing customer. And I think that’s a conservative estimate! At InterSystems, we take customer service very seriously and pride ourselves on developing trusted customer relationships. So, it would only make sense that we have very high standards for new hire candidates, especially for positions that directly serve our clients.

Hiring top talent is my #1 priority. We’re very selective in whom we hire and we aim to create an environment that enables our employees to learn and succeed. In the end, this leads to a consistent WOW experience for our clients. As an example, when hiring for the role of a Product Support Specialist the individual must demonstrate compelling evidence of a high degree of excellence in four key areas – aptitude, initiative, passion, and professionalism.

While these four terms can have slightly different meanings to people, here is how InterSystems defines them:

  • Aptitude: A mix of intelligence, adaptability, quick thinking, and curiosity. Whomever we put on the front lines to interact with customers must understand the customer need and the products the customer has deployed. Customers want to speak with someone they know can help them, especially in the most complex situations.
  • Initiative: Someone who is responsive, accountable, and quick to act. We encourage our team to ask our customers what are they trying to accomplish and how they define success. It’s never transactional – get the issue closed and move on – it’s always about helping our clients to achieve success. Our team members are motivated by our clients success and they have the drive, confidence and knowledge to know they can deliver positive outcomes every time.
  • Passion: Someone who is passionate in life, has a high energy level and is able to express their passion in an effective way. It doesn’t matter whether someone is excited by a group cause or working out, coding or movies. All that matters is that they are passionate about something and can use that energy to help our customers.
  • Professionalism: Demonstrates a healthy mix of confidence, professionalism, empathy and good judgement. Doing a good job isn’t about quota but rather about helping our clients succeed. At InterSystems we hire people who are smart, skilled, and eager to help.

As part of our interview process, we also administer aptitude and psychometric testing which help us validate the four compelling traits above. Since day one, we have applied these values to all facets of our business – from the people we hire and our work environment, to the products we create. Our innovative clients often exhibit the same traits as well, which is great to see as it encourages us to keep raising our standards for new hires. With the New Year already off to a great start, we’re looking forward to keeping these values alive and strong in 2018.


John Paladino

John Paladino directs the activities of the InterSystems support, quality assurance, internal computer operations, and customer education groups. Since joining InterSystems in 1984, he has been instrumental in developing an automated support tracking system, customer training programs for all InterSystems software products, creation and implementation of service standards designed to improve responsiveness and increase customer satisfaction, and multiple domestic and international team-building initiatives.

He came to InterSystems after a three-year stint as the Manager of Systems Engineering with New England Pathology, where he was responsible for acquiring, implementing, and managing a variety of information technologies. Paladino studied Electrical Engineering at Worcester Polytechnic Institute and the University of Lowell.

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  1. Robert C. Cemper

    January 18, 2018

    Dear John,

    I like your presentation of the hiring process:
    Especially as I liked to work with InterSystems very much. And my decision to retire was mainly dictated by the fact that the local (German) admin was unable to create a contract and conditions that allow also people with physical limits (age) but flexible and fully operational mind to further participate and contribute.Now 4 years later I’ll be 70. And I do my contribution on a voluntary base in Developer Community.

    In this context I’d like to ask you if there exist similar results comparing the cost to keep an expert vs. the cost to hire & educate & develop an expert. I din’t see the issue with InterSystems but with a lot of my customers and several of my former employers.

    I saw 3 main reasons there:
    – lack of qualified management
    – inability to listen and to understand personal issues
    – Inability to challenge experts

    I see most high qualified (real) engineers as a mix that is not easy to handle:
    – behavior often like an Italian prima donna
    – sensibility on personal issues like a small child
    – keen on new challenges like loins or tigers for blood
    – mostly unable / unwilling to follow narrow administrative rules

    I’m sure you know all this. But I think it would be worth to share this knowledge with
    our partners and customers (on next Summit ?) to make them aware of the “jewels”
    that they may own without knowing it.This is especially important for Direct Customers
    if their main business is not software development.

    To find high qualified people seems to be an issue all over the world.

    Best regards from Vienna