Hiring employees? Use Jeff Bezos’s three-question test as a guide


Jeff Bezos is one of the richest men in the world, and the force behind Amazon. He founded Amazon in 1994 as an online bookstore, and currently, with around 563,100 employees, it has grown to be one of the largest ecommerce companies in the world. It is also the second-most valuable company globally.

While Jeff has been the driving force behind the company, some of his rules have helped it scale at a fast clip and still retain the culture. One of the things that Jeff has always been particular about is the hiring process. In a letter to the shareholders in 1998, he mentioned three key questions.

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While hiring, these three questions are used as guiding principles by Amazon. Read on to find out more:

Jeff Bezos-Admiration is key

The first question for an employer is, “Will you admire this person?”

Why is it important to hire a person you can admire? Jeff explains in his letter, “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.”

Don’t we all look to learn something from people we like and admire? That is the key to hiring good employees. As a leader, CEO, or HR head, it is important to remember that if a person doesn’t light the spark of admiration, then maybe you need to continue your search until you find someone who does.

Adding to effectiveness

Jeff’s second question was, “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 visualise the company five 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!’”

Jeff believes in raising the bar higher, and making standards matter. So, each individual who joins the team needs to not only be effective, but also help raise the standard.

Other skills

Jeff’s third question may take most managers by surprise. The third question is, “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.”

Jeff goes on to explain in his letter on what it means to not have skills related to the job, and shares an example in the letter. “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!’”

In such cases, the person is still an achiever, and if they give their best to such interests and hobbies, they will definitely excel in their job, and respect it. It is important for organisations to respect the skills and talents of employees beyond what they are able to showcase at the workplace.

Each company and CEO, Founder and manager, has his or her preferences, but if the organisation can identify what are a few key things they are looking for in an employee, then no matter how big the company grows, there will be a common thread uniting everyone and making a huge impact on how the company grows.


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