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Amazon’s bar-raisers add another level to the company’s hiring process



Jeff Bezos
It’s all about

Mark Wilson / Getty

  • Amazon‘s hiring process isn’t just about
    candidates interacting with hiring managers.
  • VP of worldwide people operations Ardine Williams told
    Business Insider that each interview panel also includes a
    person known as a “bar-raiser.”
  • The bar-raiser’s purpose is to hold the panel
    accountable and ensure that all candidates are a good cultural
    fit for Amazon.

If you want to land a job at Amazon, it’s not enough to impress the
hiring manager.

There’s a whole interview panel you have to go through in order
to land the gig. And it’s also important for you to impress one
person in particular: the bar-raiser.

According to Amazon VP of Worldwide People Operations Ardine
Williams, who delivered the keynote speech at Glassdoor Recruit on Thursday,
the bar-raiser’s primary function is to hold the rest of the
board accountable during the hiring process.

“One of our hiring principles is that anyone we bring in should
raise the bar on our internal performance,” Williams told
Business Insider. “Which means that we’re looking for someone
who’s better than half of the people that currently working here
at that level.”

Ardine Williams Amazon
Amazon VP of Worldwide People Operations, Ardine


So the bar-riser acts as a “neutral third party” on the board,
meaning that they’re not in the hiring manager’s
chain-of-command. Williams added that, in many cases, the
bar-raiser will trump the hiring manager when it comes time to
make a final decision about a candidate.

So how does an Amazon employee become a bar-raiser? According to
Williams, an employee first has to conduct a large number of

It’s not just about quantity, though. Any prospective bar-raiser
must adhere to Amazon’s core principle of being “right, a lot.” The employee’s votes on various
interview panels must align with the outcome of the hire. A
bar-raiser must typically vote in favor of candidates that are
hired, or vote to pass on candidates that don’t receive an offer.

All novice bar-raisers are also trained by more seasoned
bar-raisers before they take on the role.

Ultimately, Williams said that the bar-raiser’s purpose is to
inject “tension in the system” to ensure that the hiring board
takes actions in keeping with Amazon’s core principles. She added
that the bar-raiser is especially crucial when a team is
particularly eager to fill an open seat.

“It’s the person who reminds us to, ‘ready aim, fire,'” Williams

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