Want to apperceive what Jeff Bezos thinks? He doesn't accord abounding ad-lib interviews these days. Heck, he fabricated account afresh aloof by answering some advancing questions onstage from his adolescent brother. But it wasn't consistently this way.
Years ago, Bezos appeared abundant added generally in the press, and among his many interviews was one that prompted a 5,700-word contour in The Washington Post. Published in September 2000, it contains some absorbing keys to what the Amazon later became--including the hiring action Bezos acclimated aback he was still the one accomplishing the interviewing.
Bezos was 36 then, and Amazon was six years old. He was acclaimed already: a multibillionaire who had been Time's Being of the Year. But his "get big now, accumulation later" action had Wall Street nervous, and the company's allotment amount was sliding. Some advisers worried their banal options ability about-face out to be abandoned afterwards the dot-com balloon burst.
Yet Bezos was still spending "much of his time recruiting and screening executives," the Post reported. And, he said, he consistently asked the same unusual catechism in every interview: "How abounding gas stations are there in the United States?"
I'm abiding you've apparent these kinds of questions; conceivably you've asked or answered them in interviews yourself. The acknowledgment to the catechism itself doesn't absolutely matter; it's all about acid the candidate's anticipation processes.
"I apprehend it's a little awe-inspiring to ask things like this to bodies who accept 800 bodies advertisement to them somewhere," Bezos told the Post reporter, but he beheld it as a agency to a goal, hiring alone the smartest bodies he could find. Amazon's business model, projections, strategy, and articles ability all change, he thought, and so the connected to shoot for was to appoint alone the smartest people.
Besides his gas base question, this strategy led him to ask applicants to allotment their SAT scores, and to ask a CFO applicant who had ranked No. 2 on the CPA assay why she hadn't appear in first.
"There's annihilation amiss with allurement for SAT scores," Bezos told the Post. He additionally generally conducted hourlong advertence checks on abeyant hires himself, allurement 23 accepted questions including: Can you anticipate of a botheration that anybody anticipation was baffling that this being solved?
"If this being were absolutely brilliant, you can bethink these things. If they can't anticipate of anything, it doesn't beggarly they're not brilliant. But it's absolutely a abrogating indicator," Bezos said.
Parts of the 2000 account are a admonition of aloof how abundant has afflicted during the aboriginal two decades of this century.
We can alpha with Bezos's circadian dress cipher ("blue dress shirts and khakis"). There's additionally the actuality that the aggregation is portrayed as accepting made no accomplishment to pretend alike to affliction about ancestral or cultural diversity.
"Sources aural the alignment say it is artlessly not a antecedence in recruiting," the Post reported, and declared it as "predominantly macho and white."
But afresh and afresh it comes aback to the angle that a aggregation is at amount its people--and that agency recruiting "the best accessible players in the draft," to borrow a sports metaphor.
As David Shaw, who founded the barrier armamentarium area Bezos worked afore ablution Amazon and whose hiring practices Bezos was said to accept taken afflatus from, told the Post, "We don't consistently recruit for specific positions. We're blessed to barn a absolutely able alone on the acceptance that they may anytime accomplish us money."
Bezos of course turned out to be one of the attenuate founders who can adviser a adventure from barn startup canicule to conglomerate.
At the time of the 2000 Post interview, Amazon was accomplishing $1.64 billion a year in sales, and had about 8,600 employees. It hadn't yet apparent its banal amount blast and rebound, as happened during 2001. Yet a Lehman Brothers analyst had fabricated a name for himself beforehand that summer by predicting that Amazon was toast: "The affair is over."
Fast advanced to 2016, and Amazon did aloof beneath $136 billion in revenue. With its acquisition of Whole Foods, the aggregation aloof surpassed 500,000 employees. Oh, and of course Bezos is now the world's richest being and owns the Post. (Meantime, the close area the "party is over" analyst formed no best exists.)
By the way, here's how Bezos said he'd acknowledgment the gas base question.
As a kid, he spent summers in the tiny boondocks of Cotulla, Texas, citizenry 3,000, and he recalled there were two gas stations there. Thus, he said he'd accept that 1 gas base for every 1,500 people ratio held accurate for the absolute country, and aloof do the math.
Based on a U.S. citizenry of 280 actor at the time (it's 323 million now), that would assignment out to about 186,666 gas stations. The absolute cardinal at the time: 175,000. His adding was aural about 6.7 percent of the appropriate answer.
The opinions bidding actuality by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.