Winning over a hiring manager isn’t enough to land you a job at Amazon — there’s actually a ‘bar-raiser’ on every interview panel and their opinion may be even more important

Jeff Bezos

  • 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 AmazonSo 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 interviews.

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 said.

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