Hiring is a superpower

The importance of hiring and developing the best team members, the benefits of an adaptive interview approach, and potentially flawed aspects of the conventional interview process.

Lucas A. Meyer


April 5, 2022

One of my superpowers from my #Amazon review process this year was “Hire and Develop the Best”.

This may be because a few years ago, my (then) manager taught me a trick: when in doubt, err on the side of hiring people.

I looked at my statistics a while back and I really don’t say “yes” that much more than my peers. It’s just a little more. When I shadowed other interviewers, I noticed that my questions are just as hard, if not harder. If I noticed one difference, it’s that I tend to start with a quick, easier question, which usually cost me less than five minutes, and I’m then quickly at or above the average difficulty level of my peer interviewers.

I do this because it is extremely common for the interviewee to be nervous during an interview. Like on the movie Gladiator, you don’t know what will come out when the gates open, even though you prepared a lot for it. If the first question throws the interviewee off, it’s often hard for them to regain confidence. It’s quicksand.

I like #interview questions that are “adaptive”, like the GMAT, meaning that you can make them easier or harder by changing small things. Sometimes, people would actually be able to do the hard version of the question, but they’re nervous and need to start with the easy one.

As commonplace as it is, the interview process is very imperfect, and usually tends to yield false negatives: meaning that it fails people that would have succeeded. Given how hard the process is, people that are “on the margin” are more likely to be good hires than not. I have not regretted any bets I’ve made.