Implementing Amazon Bar Raiser in Your Business
If you’ve been hearing about Amazon Bar Raiser and wondering what it is, how you could benefit from it and how you could introduce such an approach to your hiring process, then you’re in the right place.
What is it?
Bar Raiser is the approach used by Amazon to hire the best talent globally. It is built on some core principles you would recognise as general best practice, including a high-quality job description and competency-based interviewing.
What sets Bar Raiser apart is two key additions:
1) A highly trained person named the Bar Raiser, external to the department that is hiring, runs one of the interviews.
2) This Bar Raiser is then solely responsible for making the hiring decision.
This is incredibly powerful for a great number of reasons. For a start, it is much easier to be objective in interview when you are not personally hiring the person to work in your team. You are less distracted by all those subjective questions of “would I want to sit at the airport with them?” and “will the team get on with them?” and instead you can focus on the objective criteria of the role.
The Bar Raiser interview focuses on Amazon’s leadership competencies, so it is all about behaviour and fit with the organisational culture rather than something that is concerningly more subjective like your preferred team culture.
On the decision-making point, this is high value-add because it puts a stop to the endless circular debates that are commonplace in hiring, often leading to the best candidate being lost, the panel deciding to readvertise and leaders realising that they’re still not quite sure what they are looking for.
But don’t imagine for a second that this external interviewer gets to just swan in and make a decision on their own. No, it is the Bar Raiser’s role to facilitate the debate of the various interviewers involved, hear all of their views, weigh up the evidence and make a call. And that means that the intense training of Bar Raisers is not just in interviewing, it is in facilitating complex meetings, managing high levels of disagreement and decision-making after all of that.
Getting the best person for the job tends to be what we’re aiming for in recruitment. This process is the best way of doing that, because it builds a laser focus on what doing a great job means, and helps you identify who has those skills and/or potential.
Given the more objective nature of this process, this is ideal for businesses wanting to improve their diversity and inclusion. The process will weed out some of the greatest causes of bias early on through better job description and interview process design, and reduce the impact of subjectivity in the interview process.
From a reputational perspective, the fact that there are already a load of YouTube videos attempting to show candidates how to “beat” or “ace” the Bar Raiser interview, shows that this is recognised as something different and something that makes the hiring process more challenging. That means it can add to your reputation as a business driven to hire the best talent, and do so through a robust process.
After 20 years of advising companies on their selection processes, and often being the external consultants who play the Bar Raiser role, we have seen every time that the candidates who respect an employer for having a more robust process, are the kind of candidates who succeed.
It’s worth mentioning that one Bar Raiser responsibility we have never been given, is making the decision overall! We only advise. But we have certainly been there structuring the interview process, facilitating the conversation and working through the fog of subjectivity to identify the best overall suiter to the job description. It is a fantastic process and helps hiring managers feel more confident in the decisions they make.
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