Why Amazon spends so much time hiring a candidate

Whenever the human resources department is going through a hiring spree, they have to manage a large amount of processes. Screening candidates, scheduling interviews and inputting new employee profiles are a few of the many tasks this department is expected to go through.

Over the years, companies have tried to shorten the hiring process with HR software solutions, social media and background checks, but Amazon is doing the complete opposite: one applicant usually speaks to five or six employees — totaling about 12 hours of question-and-answer sessions.

Despite the arduous process, Amazon was able to hire more than 30,000 people in 2013, and expects to conduct another 75,000 interviews to fill another 30,000 positions in 2014. eBay, one of Amazon’s largest competitors has about 31,000 workers altogether, according to the Wall Street Journal

“We want to be as objective and scientific in our hiring as possible,” Susan Harker, Amazon’s vice president of global talent acquisition, told the Journal. “The point is to optimize our chances of having long-term employees.”

Another component to Amazon’s interview may also include another conversation with a “bar raiser,” an employee who works for the company full-time, but has the power to veto the hiring of any candidate, even if they are applying for a position outside of the staffer’s department. Bar raisers might interview as many as 10 prospective hires per week, with the expectation that they will ask pressing questions and challenge their analytical reasoning skills.

CEO Jeff Bezos told the Journal in the past that the bar raiser program helps ensure Amazon has a consistent corporate culture, and it is “something the broader team is very proud of.”

However, because bar raisers come at a volunteer basis, they do not get extra compensation for doing so. In the past, bar raisers may have often been on a faster track for a promotion, but that is not guaranteed, which is why being a bar raiser could be seen as a double-edged sword.

“It’s an enormous time commitment,” Sailesh Rachabathuni, a former Amazon employee and bar raiser explained. “I had to limit myself to six interviews a week.”

Amazon’s time-consuming interview process may work for them, but it could take an unacceptable toll on the resources of a different company. HR software solutions can be used as a tool to weed out candidates as well, saving payroll hours to complete other interview-related tasks.

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