Hiring the Right Way with Jess Klek

Jess Klek, CRO at Brighthire, has mastered building high-performing teams with solid cultural bonds. With experience managing large corporations and fast-growing startups, Jess joins Collin Stewart on the Predictable Revenue Podcast to explore her superpower: shaping a culture that fuels success.

The Complexity and Impact of Mis-Hires in Building Strong Teams

Mis-hires are not merely occasional mistakes but significant errors that can impact an entire organization. Jess Klek’s wisdom, derived from her personal experiences, emphasizes the importance of hiring decisions aligning with the role and the team’s culture and values.

The Black Box of Hiring: A Call for Transparency in Structuring the Hiring Process

Jess points out that hiring often occurs within a “black box,” where arbitrary decisions are made based on gut feelings. Her work at Brighthire focuses on creating a transparent and structured hiring process, emphasizing alignment with the company’s expectations and culture.

Creating a Winning Culture Through the Hiring Process

Building a team that will go to battle for you involves more than just hiring for skills. Jess stresses the importance of a balanced approach where cultural fit and the ability to elevate the team are equally valued. She believes high-performing teams often harbor the best culture, making both aspects crucial in hiring.

Importance of Understanding Different Leadership Styles in Sales Management

Navigating leadership within sales requires an in-depth understanding of various styles and cultures. Whether managing a large or small team, new and experienced leaders must recognize the importance of thoughtful hiring and a process that aligns with the team’s unique needs.

Balancing Performance and Culture: A Complex Equation

The High-Performance, Shady Culture Conundrum: In specific environments, results are the be-all and end-all. Individuals are treated as cogs in a machine, with the relentless drive for revenue overshadowing the need for human connection. Despite the success that can come from this approach, the personal costs can be significant.

On the other hand, there’s a Low-Performance, High-Culture Scenario: This represents a setting where surface-level perks like lunches and game rooms can mask a lack of ambition and achievement. It can frustrate high performers, leading to an unhealthy work environment.

Jess Klek’s experience points to the importance of balancing high performance and culture. Leaders can create successful and nurturing teams by aiming for these attributes during hiring.

The interplay between performance and culture underscores the complexity of managing sales teams. It’s not about prioritizing one over the other but finding a harmonious blend that can lead to achieving goals and fostering loyalty, compassion, and a genuine sense of connection within the team.

The Art of Standardized Interviewing: Removing Bias and Building Consistency

The hiring process is an intricate dance that balances the organization’s needs with the expectations of potential candidates. Jess Klek’s insights into this delicate equilibrium shed light on a subject many leaders wrestle with, creating a consistent, unbiased, and effective interview process.

Jess underlines the importance of acknowledging that every interviewer carries unconscious biases. These biases pertain to diversity and inclusion and can extend to preferences for similar experiences or familiarity with particular companies.

By asking every candidate the same questions, biases are minimized. It allows a more equitable comparison between candidates and uncovers surprising insights that might not be revealed in a more free-wheeling approach.

Cross-Functional Collaboration:

  • Involving Peers and Cross-Functional Partners: Including different perspectives in the interview process can result in a more well-rounded assessment of a candidate’s fit within the team and the organization.
  • Finding the Right Number of Interviews: Jess highlights that having too many interviews can increase both miss-hires and candidate withdrawal rates. The process must consider the candidate’s experience, avoiding exhaustive and repetitive questioning.

Balancing Aptitude and Culture Fit:

  • The Role of Cultural Aptitude: Beyond a standardized list of aptitude and behavioral questions, understanding how a candidate aligns with the company’s values and mission is critical. High aptitude or performance doesn’t always translate to an excellent cultural fit.

The Impact on Diversity and Inclusion:

Ensuring Equal Opportunity: Studies have found disparities in the number of questions asked to male and female candidates, leading to unequal opportunities. A standardized process helps in leveling the playing field.

Utilizing Technology and Building Profiles in the Hiring Process

Today’s competitive job market demands an efficient and effective hiring process. Leading companies like Bright Hire are using technological advances to streamline their procedures. Integrating AI-powered transcription and summarization can significantly reduce the number of interviews and automate note-taking, resulting in a more efficient process.

However, technology alone isn’t enough. Crafting the right candidate profile is crucial. With a clear job description, hiring managers can identify the most critical attributes for success, such as behavioral characteristics and cultural fit. This approach is far more refined, not relying solely on qualifications. By aligning the profile with interview questions, recruiters can rigorously assess candidates, ensuring they match the organization’s needs.

But what about biases that can creep into the hiring process? Here’s where standardized scorecards and specific rules come into play. For instance, implementing a rule to avoid discussing a candidate before submitting scorecards can prevent groupthink and preserve individual assessments.

Transparency and Authenticity in Leadership

Creating a solid team doesn’t end with hiring. How leaders communicate with their teams is integral to building trust and authenticity. By opting for transparency and empathy, leaders like Jess Klek demonstrate how sharing information can make a real difference, especially during challenging times.

For example, during the uncertainty of COVID-19, a hyper-transparent approach allowed team members to prepare for changes. This method fostered a sense of security and loyalty, even in the face of potential layoffs.

In a rapidly changing world, transparency isn’t just a leadership style—it’s a necessity. By sharing openly and honestly, leaders can build stronger relationships with their teams, promoting a culture of winning and excellence.

Leveraging Technology and Authenticity in the New Age of Hiring

Jess Klek’s insights into the hiring process emphasize the need for modernization while holding on to the human touch. By marrying AI-powered technology with an authentic, transparent leadership approach, businesses can revolutionize recruiting, onboarding, and nurturing talent.

Technology: A Tool, Not a Replacement

Leading organizations today embrace technological advances, such as AI-powered transcription and summarization, to streamline hiring procedures. However, Jess stresses that technology alone isn’t the answer. 

Crafting the right candidate profile, integrating standardized scorecards, and implementing specific rules, like avoiding discussing a candidate before submitting assessments, can create a more holistic and unbiased evaluation process. This fusion of technology and human intuition is a key to future success.

Authentic Leadership: The Heart of a Winning Culture

Leaders must foster a culture of openness in an era where transparency and authenticity are highly valued. Jess Klek’s hyper-transparent approach during challenging times, such as the COVID-19 pandemic, showcases how honesty and empathy can build stronger relationships and promote team loyalty. 

This leadership style doesn’t just make a winning team but also creates an environment where excellence thrives.


Jess Klek’s wisdom and experience highlight the importance of finding a harmonious blend between hiring, team-building, and leadership. The complexity lies not in prioritizing one element over the other but in understanding how each part intricately connects to the whole.

Whether it’s balancing performance and culture, integrating technology without losing the human touch, or leading with authenticity and compassion, Jess’s insights underline the nuanced approach needed in today’s dynamic work environment. The lessons learned from her experiences are not mere guidelines but essential pathways to achieving goals and fostering a genuine sense of connection within a team.


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