Under pressure to hire as quickly as possible in the aftermath of the pandemic, Amazon reportedly dropped a crucial element in its hiring process.
Traditionally, the e-commerce giant has a “bar raiser” sequence baked into its interview cycle. In addition to hiring managers, select Amazon employees interview candidates to ensure their technical aptitude and cultural fit; although they’re technically “objectively third-party advisers,” these bar raisers have the power to veto any hiring decision.
But according to a new article in Business Insider, Amazon decided in January 2021 to begin eliminating bar raisers from the interview process for entry-level software engineers. “Some of the other non-engineering, entry-level positions also got rid of bar raisers from their interview loops in recent years,” the article added. “Bar raisers still give advice on the entry level hiring decisions, and interview the more senior positions.” (The article’s information came from anonymous sources; in an email to Insider, Amazon declined to confirm or deny the change in hiring procedure.)
That elimination roughly coincided with a huge Amazon hiring push, with new CEO Andy Jassy setting out plans to bring aboard 55,000 tech and corporate workers in the course of just a few months. At the time, Amazon enjoyed stellar revenue and profits from pandemic-era spending on goods and services, and Jassy said he needed the rapid hires to keep up with demand.
However, things have changed. Earlier in January, Jassy announced layoffs totaling 18,000 tech and corporate workers. “Leaders across the company have been working with their teams and looking at their workforce levels, investments they want to make in the future, and prioritizing what matters most to customers and the long-term health of our businesses,” he wrote in a letter published to Amazon’s corporate communications website. “This year’s review has been more difficult given the uncertain economy and that we’ve hired rapidly over the last several years.”
If the Insider report is accurate, many Amazon employees want a vigorous bar-raiser process. “As a whole, Amazon's excellence and its level of expertise has dropped,” an anonymous source told the publication. Given the layoffs and hiring slowdown, could Amazon take the opportunity to retool its hiring process once again?