Bar Raisers & Quality Control Mechanisms
For some companies, hiring mistakes are just too costly, so they need a mechanism to ensure a fair, consistent, high hiring bar is leveraged across all hires, with an eye on quality, diversity, and speed. Enter Bar Raisers. The Bar Raiser program was co-developed by our founder, John Vlastelica, in 1999 when he led tech recruiting at Amazon. Today, it’s scaled at Amazon to hundreds of thousands of hiring decisions across the globe, and is getting traction as a mechanism for quality control and real-time hiring coaching inside all kinds of interesting companies.
What is a Bar Raiser?
A Bar Raiser is an interviewer and hiring decision meeting facilitator who is brought into the hiring process to be an objective third party. They are not the hiring manager or recruiter. They are a well respected interviewer and talent champion from outside of the hiring manager’s team.
What makes a great Bar Raiser?
Pros and Cons of a Bar Raiser Program
Considering a program like Bar Raisers? Want to know more about the pros and cons of programs like Amazon Bar Raisers and Google Hiring Committees?
In this recorded webinar, John Vlastelica walks you through the pros and cons of three decision-making interview models: bar raisers (used by Amazon), hiring committees (used by Google), and pipeline (used by university recruiting teams). John co-built and scaled the Amazon bar raisers program when he was Amazon’s head of tech recruiting, and as a consultant, he has helped companies put quality control mechanisms – like bar raisers and hiring committees models – in place.
If you’re considering a program like this – which, by the way, is not for every company, and is not easy to copy-paste into an existing interviewing process – we should talk. We’ve helped companies define their hiring bars, design and implement interview training and Bar Raiser programs. And we’ve trained recruiters to be Talent Advisors and play a much bigger role in the hiring decision making process. Contact us if you’d like to discuss how we can help you raise the bar on who you hire and how you hire.
The origin of Amazon Bar Raisers
Dave Schappell – a 10 year veteran of Amazon, who led the product management teams that launched Amazon Marketplace and AWS – interviewed our founder, John Vlastelica, as part of a podcast series focused on the early inventions and scaling at Amazon.
If you want to hear about the problems Bar Raisers was trying to solve, how Bar Raisers were selected, how Bar Raisers scaled, check out this engaging interview.
From Dave: John’s contributions to Amazon’s recruiting organization laid the groundwork for massive hiring growth, and the Bar Raisers program is still used today. This episode is packed full of information about the Bar Raisers program, John’s experiences as a foundational member of Amazon’s recruiting organization, and practical, strategic insights that entrepreneurs and talent acquisition professionals can use today.
- Subscribe and listen in your favorite podcast app
- Watch/listen on YouTube
Learn more about how Amazon talks about their Bar Raisers and Bar Raiser program here:
What can I do to raise the bar on who we hire and how we hire?
Of course, finding and engaging top talent is key. But it’s not enough to be great at sourcing – you also need to do work pre-sourcing and mid-funnel to ensure you define the bar and interview and select talent that meets your high hiring bar.
Here are some resources to help you think strategically about defining and raising the bar on talent in your org, while keeping an eye on diversity:
Interviewing Effectiveness Diagnostic Tool
Recruiting Toolbox is engaged by amazing companies around the world to define hiring standards and build interviewing and selection capabilities of hiring managers, interviewers, and recruiters.
Leverage what we’ve learned from working with thousands of hiring managers and recruiting and HR leaders to evaluate your own interviewing and selection strategy and process with this diagnostic tool.
How can we make our Hiring Managers better, and create a culture of recruiting?
A Bar Raiser-like program can be really helpful after you’ve defined your bar and trained up your interviewers. But is that enough? No. You’ll need your hiring managers to be full on talent champions – not passive participants – to get world class talent into your organization.
What is the makeup of your hiring manager community? How do you make your hiring managers better? Check out The Hiring Manager Maturity Model to evaluate your current mix and identify how to create a culture of recruiting, where everyone operates as an extension of the recruiting team.
Do any other companies, in addition to Amazon, use Bar Raisers?
A quick internet search for company name + bar raiser will get you results showing many companies have implemented some version of bar raisers. For many companies, the hiring manager’s manager serves as a sort of bar raiser – with veto power over who is ultimately hired. For other companies, it’s the recruiter who plays more of a debrief facilitator, without veto power, but with a commitment to keeping the bar high in face of pressure by a hiring team to get a bum in the seat. And some companies – including companies we’ve been hired to help – have implemented a version of bar raiser hiring decision facilitators without veto power, but with strong influencing skills who are focused on fair, equitable hiring decisions.
Here are some blogs or articles that specifically mention bar raiser-like programs and some fairly well known companies.
Seeking a partner to help you establish and scale a high hiring bar?
Since 2005, we’ve trained over 10,000 hiring managers and interviewers from 30 countries.
We’ve worked with startups to complex, global organizations, defining hiring bars, aligning teams on what good looks like and hiring principles, embedding a culture of recruiting, and improving speed, quality, and diversity.
We’ve helped implement mechanisms – like Bar Raisers and License to Hire program – to ensure your high hiring bar scales.
We’d be happy to connect with you to learn more about your goals for establishing and scaling a high hiring bar, and answer any questions about our custom built, credibly delivered interviewing, hiring manager, and bar raiser training.