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The 3 Simple Questions Jeff Bezos Asks Himself Before Making a Hiring Decision

Jeff Bezos had a personal playbook for hiring protocol.

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BY Robbie Abed - 28 Aug 2018

The 3 Simple Questions Jeff Bezos Asks Himself Before Making a Hiring Decision

PHOTO CREDIT: Getty Images

There are few people in the world as good at building companies as Jeff Bezos.

Amazon makes him millions of dollars per day. While his net worth of $156 billion has been the subject of hundreds of blog posts recently, it's his ability to create a company from the ground up that is so impressive.

Although he is often criticized for employee standards and low wages, there's no denying that whatever he did, worked.

So how did he find top talent and create the Kingdom of Amazon?

He asks himself three simple questions before hiring anyone.

1. "Will you admire this person?"

For the CEO of Amazon, it seems that being impressed with the person he was hiring was a top priority. The very first question he would ask before making a final decision was whether or not this was someone he would want to emulate.

This is a great point of reference, because if you can't see yourself admiring a new hire, you won't be making yourself better.

Bezos knew that creating a company culture that supported itself and forced everyone to grow was the only way to make his vision a reality.

This was an unshakeable truth: he had to look up to the people who entered the company.

2. "Will this person raise the average level of effectiveness of the group they're entering?"

Aside from just being a human being that he could admire, Bezos was very interested in productivity. And this approach obviously panned out pretty nicely for him.

The effectiveness of his employees was essential to the success of Amazon's breakneck delivery speed, and one of the biggest factors in helping them take over the planet.

Still, Bezos wanted to make his teams faster and better with each new hire. Seeing it this way was integral to pushing longstanding employees to the next level.

He also was more pointed about the hires and how they would interact with the other members of the team. If they could boost the productivity of the entire team, they would be worth many times more than just their annual salary--they would help him build an empire.

I remember making a hire for a company several years ago, when I instinctively new that she would replace her boss in five years. Some managers would see that as a threat and choose a less ambitious candidate, I made the decision and hired her, and she turned out to be a real game-changer.

3. "Along what dimension might this person be a superstar?"

This third and final question is where the genius of Bezos really shines through. Instead of wondering only what the potential hire could do in their assigned role, he prodded deeper.

If the applicant was someone that he could admire, and someone who would make the team better, then it was obvious that person had a hidden talent which made him or her a superstar.

But this is the hardest aspect of new hires to uncover: where are their true talents hiding, and how can we develop them more effectively?

This is what it takes to become great at making new hires.

In my experience, I've seen that the best hiring managers know how to ask questions that break the mold to really gauge a candidate's potential. When done right I've seen new hires grow to lead entire new departments--created just for them. Bezos knew that you aren't just hiring the person in the chair--you're hiring their future self as well.

The more you can gauge which employees will be your best employees five or ten years down the road, the more you can create a nexus of skilled employees who can work together effortlessly.

However, he wasn't just focusing on what that employee could do today--he was also seeing if new roles, or entirely new departments, could be created based on their superpowers. That was the most ingenious method to his madness, and one of the key ingredients to Amazon's success.

Next time you are asked to interview applicants, think about how well they will fit both inside and outside of your current company culture--how could they make it better?

Steal this page out of Jeff Bezos' playbook, and aim to make your company a place where superstars make everyone else around them better.

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