Make a Bloody Decision Already

Guest: Phil North Always Be Closing, Audacious Ideas, Candidate Pool, Driving Productivity, HR, HR (& Life!) Advice, Recruiting

Say what you will about Amazon and their culture—they’ve got the foundation right and I freaking LOVE the company. Yep, I’m a fan and even if they worked me so hard my eyeballs rotted out of my head from reviewing resumes and my fingers fell off from endless Taleo clicks, I’d trade my time to be there. Why am I such a fanboy of the big AMZN? Besides the random crap I buy from them, the Prime shipping to rural Oklahoma, and of course, their new deal with Jeremy Clarkson… I dig their foundational leadership principles.

When an Amazon recruiter pinged me out of the blue on LinkedIn a few years ago I knew nothing, nor would I have cared, about any fluff leadership principles. It was in the middle of summer and I lived in Phoenix and NOTHING sounded better than a rainy nine months a year in Seattle. Besides, whenever a high-performance organization knocks on your door it’s silly not to talk to them, right? My recruiter counseled me to look up their leadership principles directly and told me that every interview question would revolve around them at my all-day onsite. One of those principles isBias for Action: Speed matters in business. Many decisions and actions are reversible and do not need extensive study. We value calculated risk taking”.

That, my friends, is a breath of fresh air, and before people chime in saying that there’s a lot of talk about these principles, but few people actually experience them in the wild; at Amazon, let me say, that talk is the first step to action.

This “Bias for Action” principle is the make or break of sales recruiting.

Several employers ago, one of my recruiters came to me absolutely crushed that the sales team had declined the star candidate after 9 interviews, 7 of those onsite—yep, 7 separate visits. This candidate had interviewed with 26 people and our process to decline had taken 10 weeks.

In this situation, the concern that ultimately caused the candidate to be rejected was identified on the first interview. That interviewer either didn’t have the guts or the authority to cut the candidate loose. From there, each successive sales leader thought that the first interviewer must have seen something great to have ignored the concern so they each recommended that another sales leader interview the candidate. Seriously, the fact that this candidate hung around for so long without being hired by someone else is a clear enough sign that the person wasn’t a player.

I propose that more time with a candidate doesn’t always result in a better hire. Do your due diligence, run your behavioral interview program. Heck, give them a top-grading five-hour interview and a full panel personality test if you want to but then, somebody, for the love of all that is good, make a bloody decision.