The Three Questions Amazon Asks Before Hiring New Employees

The Three Questions Amazon Asks Before Hiring New Employees
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24 years ago, Amazon was a humble online bookstore operating out of some guy’s garage. Today, it’s one of the world’s largest companies with an annual net sales revenue of $177.7 billion. This has made its CEO Jeff Bezos the richest person on Earth by a considerable margin.

A large part of Amazon’s growth can be attributed to intelligent hiring practices. Indeed, Bezos once cited talented employees as “the single most important element” of Amazon’s success. He also once sent a memo to Amazon execs requiring them to consider three questions before offering someone for a job – which are relevant to all workplaces.

Amazon has a specific philosophy when it comes to filling corporate job openings. The nucleus of its strategy can be found in a 1998 letter from CEO Jeff Bezos that tasked employees with considering three questions before hiring a candidate. The questions were as follows:

  1. “Will you admire this person?”
  2. “Will this person raise the average level of effectiveness of the group they’re entering?”
  3. “Along what dimension might this person be a superstar?”

As Business Insider points out, these queries remain as effective today as in 1998.

The first question is something that’s easy to overlook but could have a huge impact on workplace culture and the general well being of employees – after all, nobody wants to work with someone they don’t admire.

“For myself, I’ve always tried hard to work only with people I admire, and I encourage folks here to be just as demanding,” Bezos explained.

The second question helps to weed out candidates who are merely “good enough” and forces businesses to organically raise the bar. (i.e. – Every new hire is more effective than their predecessor in some way.)

The final question is a bit too close to corporate pretension for our liking, but there’s still something in there – it’s basically about hiring people with unique skills, interests and perspectives, even if those traits aren’t necessarily related to their jobs. In other words, don’t pigeon hole a prospective employee based on their resume alone.

So to recap – look for admirable qualities in an applicant, ensure they bring more to the table than their predecessor and remember to consider the unique qualities that make them the person they are. You can check out a more in depth summary of Amazon’s hiring philosophy at the link below.

[Via Business Insider]


  • that last question is actually super important – we use a variation of it at work, it generally deals with “soft skills” and what you’re like as a person. You can be the smartest and most skilled person in your department, but if you’re a pain to work with and are bad at conflict resolution, you won’t last 6 months. You can teach people technical skills but it’s a lot harder to teach someone to not be a d-bag

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