How Does Jeff Bezos Hire Great People ?
Of all the components of business, PEOPLE continues to reign as the number one decision for success and growth. Jim Collins, author of Good to Great, states adamantly “who first!” Great companies have the right people in their organization before they focus on the “what, where and how” of growth.
But how do we know we have the right people? I continue to get this question from clients, alliances, and many of my relationships. Until you settle your people issues, they will consume a tremendous amount of emotional energy and make it difficult to focus. So what I want to share today is a hiring perspective of Amazon.
How does Jeff Bezos continue to hire great people?
According to this recent FORBES article, Bezos’ guiding principles for hiring are pulled from Amazon’s 1998 shareholder letter, in which he argues that “setting the bar high in our approach to hiring has been, and will continue to be, the single most important element of Amazon.com’s success.”
These principles, according to Bezos, are still being used today.
During our hiring meetings, we ask people to consider three questions before making a decision:
Will you admire this person?
If you think about the people you’ve admired in your life, they are probably people you’ve been able to learn from or take an example from. For myself, I’ve always tried hard to work only with people I admire, and I encourage folks here to be just as demanding. Life is definitely too short to do otherwise.
Will this person raise the average level of effectiveness of the group they’re entering?
We want to fight entropy. The bar has to continuously go up. I ask people to visualize the company 5 years from now. At that point, each of us should look around and say, “The standards are so high now — boy, I’m glad I got in when I did!”
Along what dimension might this person be a superstar?
Many people have unique skills, interests, and perspectives that enrich the work environment for all of us. It’s often something that’s not even related to their jobs. One person here is a National Spelling Bee champion (1978, I believe). I suspect it doesn’t help her in her everyday work, but it does make working here more fun if you can occasionally snag her in the hall with a quick challenge: “onomatopoeia!”
Bezos’s questions don’t focus so much on hiring criteria but on the candidate’s motivation behind achievements. It builds a view of a three-dimensional person.
“People can have the same accomplishments but with wildly different motivations. Credentials may be the most visible, but the motivation is the root that built the tree.”
How does this perspective fit in with your hiring system and practices? Do you have the best-fit people in your organization?
Contact me to discuss this perspective within your company.
All the best
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