Today, in the Invent Like An Owner Podcast, Dave speaks with John Vlastelica to talk about how Amazon scaled recruitment. They’ll discuss the origin and impact of the Bar Raiser program, where select employees helped pick top notch applicants, the birth of Making Great Hiring Decisions, Amazon’s behavioral interviewing training, how Matt Round’s MRT was designed for the interviewers not recruiters, and the challenges companies face scaling a high hiring bar.
John Vlastelica joined Amazon in 1998 as the Tech Recruiting Manager and then later became a Director of Recruiting. He helped build out the recruiting organization, programs and infrastructure during his 6 years there for what would become foundational to Amazon’s incredible employee growth.
- John Vlastelica’s LinkedIn
- Consulting and Training from John’s company, Recruiting Toolbox Website and Twitter
- Jeff Bezos 1998 Amazon.com Shareholder’s Report which called out the three questions he wanted Amazonians to consider before making a hiring decisions:
- Will you admire this person?
- Will this person raise the average level of effectiveness of the group they’re entering?
- Along what dimension might this person be a superstar?
- New York Times article that includes the quote “Amazon is where overachievers go to feel bad about themselves.“
- Find Dave on LinkedIn and Twitter
This episode is sponsored by Skilljar.com founded by ex-Amazonians Sandi Lin and Jason Stewart. Skilljar is transforming the way enterprises onboard, engage, and retain their customers.
Memorable Quotes from the Interview, discussing helpful topics for entrepreneurs then and now:"The secret sauce behind Bar Raisers was the ownership culture. I didn’t have a 20-person recruiting team; I had 500! Everyone in the company had expectations to help us recruit great talent." — @RecruitToolbox (John Vlastelica) Click To Tweet "Make sure that you build the size of the recruiting organization for the company size you plan to be, not the company size you are today." @RecruitToolbox (John Vlastelica) Click To Tweet "If a company truly wants to raise their hiring bar, they need to first define the bar." @RecruitToolbox (John Vlastelica) Click To Tweet
Fun Photos and Memorabilia
What to Listen For:
- 00:00 Intro
- 01:55 What is the Bar Raiser Program?
- 08:33 Hiring people that will make the overall team better
- 10:22 Embedding high hiring standard into every interview process
- 12:17 Tech teams and non-tech teams have different bar standards
- 16:34 Amazon’s Interview Training Program – Making Great Hiring Decisions
- 20:00 The art of behavioral interviewing
- 25:04 Some of the drawbacks of the Bar Raisers program
- 28:30 How to scale a high hiring bar
- 32:43 People want to hire smart folks and they depend on proxies
- 37:21 Questions and scenarios to raise the bar mentality in the early days
- 38:48 Spent the last 16 years building Recruiting Toolbox
- 42:07 Overinvest in your hiring standards early
- 44:20 Bringing ownership into the recruiting culture
- 46:53 How John helps companies through Recruiting Toolbox
- 51:18 MRT shifted recruiting to more pipeline oriented, and allowed feedback on interview feedback, a very amazon thing to do
- 55:53 Creating a culture of ownership and recruiting ownership
- 59:03 Advice for CEOs and startups