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Sightings: A Different Diversity

Sightings Winter12

 

HR: You're Doing It Wrong: "Zionist Jews Need to Be Run Out of This Country"

Columnist Laurie Ruettimann aims to clarify HR’s role in dealing with unacceptable behavior in and out of the workplace.

Workspace: A New Order

Columnist Alison Maitland argues for new workplace guidelines that offer flexibility—as long as the rules are drawn up with worker input and agreement.

Theory to Practice: Relatively Right vs. Wholly Wrong

Columnist Michael Raynor notes that the most important things are the simplest to understand, the hardest to do, and, as a result, the easiest to lose sight of.

Openers: Occupiers vs. Occupied

Occupy Wall Street isn’t just about inequality—it highlights the growing gap between companies and consumers.

Interviewing with Jeff Bezos

Winter 2012

Interviewing with Jeff Bezos

By Richard L. Brandt

Interviewing with Jeff Besos

Richard L. Brandt is a former correspondent for BusinessWeek. From One Click: Jeff Bezos and the Rise of Amazon.com (Portfolio/Penguin). ©2011

Early on, the interview process for new hires at Amazon was as demanding as going through oral exams for a Ph.D. in subparticle physics. Each candidate would go through interviews with several employees, then with Jeff Bezos, who would also grill all the other interviewers. He would create elaborate charts on a whiteboard listing the candidate’s qualifications, and rejected anyone about whom he had the slightest doubt. References were asked to list the candidate’s greatest strength and worst mistake. In the interview, candidates were hit with random tough questions such as, “How would you design a car for a deaf person?” (The best answer: Plug your ears and drive around to see what it’s like to be a deaf driver.) In meeting to discuss the candidates, questions asked ranged from, “What do you admire about this candidate?” to, “What is he terrible at?”

“One of his mottos was that every time we hired someone, he or she would raise the bar for the next hire, so that the overall talent pool was always improving,” said Nicholas Lovejoy, who joined Amazon in 1995 as the fifth employee. Bezos put the philosophy this way: Five years after an employee was hired, he said, that employee should think, “I’m glad I got hired when I did, because I wouldn’t get hired now.”

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The Conference Board Review is the quarterly magazine of The Conference Board, the world's preeminent business membership and research organization. Founded in 1976, TCB Review is a magazine of ideas and opinion that raises tough questions about leading-edge issues at the intersection of business and society.