The 11 Traits of the Successful Optimiser

Craig Sullivan
Dec 11, 2015 · 3 min read

I look for these when interviewing for clients — as I feel they’re very important. If you want to know how lean recruitment works (i.e. rapidly and without frippery) then get in touch.

This is my own guide to what I look for when doing phone screening or physical interviews. Every team needs their own particular cultural fit and a shortlist of technical skills — but this stuff is core.

I’ve hired several people recently who had reasonable salary requirements, ticked nearly all the boxes for these traits and were not calling themselves ‘Optimisers’ or ‘Growth Hackers’. It’s a state of mind, not a CV keyword.

You have to look for the less obvious candidates as the peacocks are very expensive and rarely as good at the work. Start with these traits and go from there!


(To truly understand and be immersed in sharing the feelings and problems your visitors and customers experience. To go beyond seeing data, numbers or ‘users’ — to seeing all the unique and wonderful humans and their stories.)


(Not ego driven — cares more about finding out or measuring than proving self is ‘right’ or opinion is ‘validated’, has a modest view of the importance of one’s own opinion in the overall experience or performance of a design.)

Analytical & Data driven

(The ability to reason and use logic when analysing and interpreting your analytics data, reports, test results, insights, funnel, business model or other critical data. To use critical thinking in how you acts as a lens of interpretation. Solid quant research, data, visualisation skills.)


(“Don’t learn how to use an AB test tool — learn how to do statistics instead.” Says @contentverve.

I’d say that you need to learn as much as you can about Frequentist and Bayesian algorithms, samples, biases, cycles, outliers, probabilities, risk — basic stats knowledge is important to avoid making the dumbass mistakes that most noob AB testers make.)

Psychology & UX

(Skills or knowledge in UX & Qual research, HCI, Cognitive Psychology, Consumer Psychology, Persuasion, Behavioural economics.)

Technical & Tools

(Knowledge of HTTP, TCP/IP, SSL/TLS, JavaScript, html, CSS, browser engines and rendering (e.g. webkit), coding, tagging, analytics, cross device tracking , cookies, local storage, test integration & QA, analytics instrumentation and calibration. A deep proficiency with both the tools and the abstractions they impose upon the data layer being collected.)

Detail obsessed/oriented

(Sees the big picture and the small details, important interactions, places where there are gaps between the steps in the experience, moments of incremental delight from sweating the tiny or nerdy details.)


(Has a higher purpose or mission that’s beyond the job or product)


(Bravery and the will to continue, in spite of the difficulties that come from this type of work.)


(Naturally inquisitive about how things work, how data is collected, what metrics actually mean, how the whole is made from the atomic parts. An appreciation of the beauty of the watch face whilst knowing exactly how the cogs and wheels turn to make the time show.)


(Has the communication, presentation and listening skills — to facilitate or make others work together, bridge silos, convince stakeholders, bring people with you, educate, convince, wear down the will to live of colleagues, transfer skills and knowledge)

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