Jeff Bezos told Amazon execs to consider 3 questions before offering someone a job and they're still spot-on 20 years later

  • Amazon has a specific philosophy when it comes to filling corporate job openings.

  • It's spelled out in a 1998 letter from CEO Jeff Bezos, in which he called hiring talented people "the single most important element" of guaranteeing Amazon's future success.

  • He told employees to always consider three questions before hiring a candidate.

Amazon is always looking to fill a ton of jobs.

But, before you can land a corporate role with the online retail behemoth, you've got to tick off three particular boxes in the minds of the hiring managers and executives vetting you.

At least, that's the process that CEO Jeff Bezos recommended to his team 20 years ago. In a 1998 letter to shareholders, customers, and employees, Bezos described his 2,100 employees as "smart, hard-working, passionate folks who put customers first" and credited "setting the bar high in our approach to hiring" as the reason for the team's strength.

He added that hiring policies and practices would be "the single most important element" in ensuring Amazon's continued success. To identify standout candidates, Bezos told executives to mull over 3 particular questions before extending a job offer.

Here are the 3 Bezos-recommended questions:

1. 'Will you admire this person?'

Bezos wrote that "life is definitely too short" to work with colleagues that you don't admire.

"For myself, I've always tried hard to work only with people I admire, and I encourage folks here to be just as demanding," Bezos wrote.

Before he founded Amazon, Bezos worked at the startup Fitel, the former banking institution Bankers Trust, and, finally, hedge fund D.E. Shaw & Co. Business Insider's Shana Lebowitz reported that Bezos actually based Amazon's hiring process on his experience at D.E. Shaw.

Back in 1998, he encouraged his team to compare candidates to people they admired in their own lives.

2. 'Will this person raise the average level of effectiveness of the group they're entering?'

Back in 1998, Bezos didn't want candidates who were good enough.

"We want to fight entropy," Bezos wrote. "The bar has to continuously go up."

Bezos asked his employees to "visualize the company" in five years — or 2003.

"At that point, each of us should look around and say, 'The standards are so high now — boy, I'm glad I got in when I did!'" he wrote.

In 2003, the company posted its first ever full-year profit, according to The New York Times.

3. 'Along what dimension might this person be a superstar?'

Bezos has a penchant for enjoying unique meals; he's partaken in the occasional sliver of iguana and has even ordered octopus for breakfast.

Back in 1998, he revealed that he also likes to work with unique people. He wrote that it's important to hire candidates with "unique skills, interests, and perspectives that enrich the work environment for all of us," regardless of whether said traits were "related to their jobs."

Bezos specifically gave a shout out to an unnamed Amazon employee who he said was once a National Spelling Bee champion.

He speculated that the individual in question won the 1978 championship, but, according to Business Insider, the unidentified employee was likely Barrie Trinkle, who won the 1973 competition and worked for Amazon from 1996 to 2001.

"I suspect it doesn't help her in her everyday work, but it does make working here more fun if you can occasionally snag her in the hall with a quick challenge: 'onomatopoeia!'" he wrote.

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