Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos writes in a 1998 Letter to Shareholders
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.”
In hiring meetings, Bezos encourages colleagues to consider the following 3 questions before making a decision about a candidate:
1. Will you admire this person?
As Bezos points out, if you think about people you admire, they are probably people you’ve learned something from or who have served as an uplifting example. You should try hard to work only with people you admire: “Life is definitely too short to do otherwise.”
2. Will this person raise the average level of effectiveness of the group they’re entering?
Bezos wants to make sure that the quality of people Amazon hires is always increasing. He asks colleagues to imagine the company 5 years in the future; their reaction at that point should be: The standards are so high now – boy, I’m glad I got in when I did!
3. Along what dimension might this person be a superstar?
Many people have unique interests, perspectives, and skills that enrich the work environment, even though these qualities may not relate directly to a person’s job. Bezos gives the example of an Amazon employee who is a National Spelling Bee champion: “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!’”