I speak internationally and can tell you that the number one issue on most clients' minds these days is how to hire the best talent. That's why Amazon's approach (and hiring rule they use) really caught my eye.

Amazon follows the "50 percent rule," which, as they say in their Day One blog, means that they want every new hire to be 50 percent stronger than their would-be-peers in similar roles.

Think about that for a moment. The rule forces two things: you simply must make better hiring decisions and you need a better interviewing process, one that helps the interviewer avoid typical interviewing, and subsequently, hiring, mistakes.

To help Amazon employees adhere to the "50 percent rule" and conduct more robust interviews, Amazon created the "Bar Raiser" program. Amazon's non-HR employees go through three to 12 months training, learning the company's 14 Leadership Principles. Then they're certified to sit in on interviews with hiring managers. 

The now 3,300 Bar Raisers purpose is to bring diverse and unbiased points of view to the interview process along with understanding of the ideal hire. This helps Amazon with their goal of having every new hire further raise the talent bar (by 50 percent).

I'm guessing you don't have thousands of employees like Amazon but you can take the spirit of what the Bar Raisers do and apply it at your company. Involve a few, select, non-HR employees in the interviewing process, teach them exactly what you're looking for, and give them interviewing practice. This method could help you avoid five of the most common interviewing mistakes that hiring managers face. 

1. Not having diverse enough points of view weighing in on hiring decisions.

I led recruiting teams at Procter & Gamble for over a decade and can say this is a big driver of poor hiring decisions. Too many interviewers are primarily drawn to candidates who are a lot like them. Unconscious bias can surface, causing candidates with different styles, backgrounds, and perspectives to get overlooked.

Including people outside of the usual hiring process brings that much needed diversity to bear. You don't need to be an Amazon Bar Raiser to raise the bar on making more well-balanced hiring decisions.  

2. Feeling time pressured to make the hire because the role has been sitting unfilled.

As one Bar Raiser said, "We're completely focused on making hiring decisions for Amazon, not for a specific team or role. Our ability is to maintain a long-term vision rather than focus on an immediate hiring need." In other words, including non-HR employees in the interview process will help the process not feel rushed, because they won't be emotionally swayed by misplaced urgency (just like the Bar Raisers aren't). They're there to help make the right decision, not just a fast one. 

I've been guilty of the latter, making a sub-standard hiring decision because an open role I had was sitting unfilled too long. The sense of urgency to get a warm body lowered the quality of my decision, and I ended up having to fire and hire for the role again, actually lengthening the outage. Learn from my mistake.

3. Not being crystal clear on what you're looking for in a candidate.

When you have 3,300 people training for a year on what matters at Amazon (the 14 Leadership Principles), odds are you'll get what you're looking for in new hires. But for the rest of us who don't have this level of support, it makes it even more important that as you enter the hiring process, everyone you have involved is on the same page for what the ideal candidate looks like. Otherwise you'll have an inconsistency in talent and too many mismatches.

4. Not doing a good enough job in the interview debriefs.

For all those you'll now have involved in the interview process, it's especially important to do a thorough job during the evaluation stage after the interviews. Two questions Bar Raisers ask (that you can too) to improve the post interview calibration are: "What does Amazon miss out on if we don't hire this person?" and 'What about this person makes you want to work with them?"

The point is, what's the point of conducting a great interview if you don't invest in a discerning debrief with other interviewers afterward?

5. Only one person makes the hiring decision.

It's easy to default to just you making the call as a hiring manager--its quicker and uses less people's time. But it leads to too many regretted decisions.

So try using the 50 percent rule 100 percent of the time. Better decisions, and talent, will abound.

Published on: Nov 6, 2019
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