Jeff Bezos is one of the most successful entrepreneurs of all time. He started from scratch, and over the course of two decades, built Amazon into one of the most valuable companies on earth. Amazon is also among the world’s largest employers, and employs 1.5 million people.
Jeff Bezos was always very careful in how they hired employees to work at Amazon. In a letter to shareholders all the way back in 1998, he listed out how they arrived at whether to hire a potential recruit or not. “During our hiring meetings, we ask people to consider three questions before making a decision,” Bezos had written. These were Jeff Bezos’ hiring rules.
Jeff Bezos hiring rules
1. Will you admire this person? 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 al-ways 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.
2. 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 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. Do they have unique skills, interests, and perspectives that enrich the work environment for all of us? Its often something that’s not even related to their jobs. 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!”
Bezos appears to have three pillars as his hiring rules. For starters, he wants new hires to be someone existing employees can admire and learn from. He also wants new hires to be better than the average of existing employees — if existing employees choose new hires that are slightly worse than them, the quality of employees will eventually deteriorate over several years, and result in a downward spiral which a company will find it hard to recover from. It’s thus important for new employees to constantly keep raising the bar at the company. And Bezos says that he doesn’t only look at work skills — he also considers unique skills and interests which give employees a more rounded personality. And whatever Bezos has done seems to have worked — Amazon has managed to hire millions of people over the years, and has turned itself into one of the most valuable companies in the world.