Amazon’s 3-question test for new hires 

  • Tim Neary | September 03, 2019
A fork stuck in the road

In the early years, when Jeff Bezos himself was still hiring new Amazon recruits, he relied on three fail-safe questions to ensure the company would maintain the exceptionally high standards he insisted on.

Mr Bezos knew early on that in an “environment as dynamic as the Internet” success would be dependent on recruiting “extraordinary” people.  

According to CNBC Make It, in a letter to shareholders in 1998 he wrote: “Setting the bar high in our approach to hiring has been, and will continue to be, the single most important element of’s success.”


Discover, Pursue, Achieve
These are them.

1. “Will I admire this person?” 

“I’ve always tried hard to work only with people I admire, and I encourage folks here to be just as demanding,” Mr Bezos wrote in that shareholder letter 20 years ago.

“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.”

2. “Will this person raise the level of the group?”  

Amazon is known as a demanding work environment, and high standards remain at the core of the company, according to CNBC. 

It adds that Mr Bezos wrote in the same shareholder letter that “we want to fight entropy.”

“The bar has to continuously go up. I ask people to visualize 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.’”

3. “What will make this person a superstar?”

On one occasion Mr Bezos wrote to shareholders of his excitement at having hired a national spelling champion, according to CNBC.

“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?’” 

CNBC says Mr Bezos is aware of how important it is to consider a candidate’s individual talents, even if they aren’t directly related to the role they are hired for, and then allow them to express their uniqueness in the work environment.

“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.”

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