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What does a “bar raiser” at Amazon do?

Answer by A Quora admin: Franci Penov

It’s quite exhausting. It add lot of responsibilities on top of your daily engineering or managerial ones, and gives you no tangible perks. There’s no additional pay for becoming a bar raiser, and your level stays the same.

As a bar raiser, you are responsible for two things:

– Helping recruiters with filtering the candidates that are invited for phone screen and potentially in-house interview. While the recruiters I worked with were quite good, there are often cases where it’s not immediately clear match between the candidate resume and the positions the team is interviewing for. In such cases, the bar raisers help by making a judgment whether the candidate should be brought for in-house, even though they don’t list the specific skills and experience that the team needs immediately. Yes, it is a subjective decision based only on the candidate resume, but it’s mostly intended as a manual sifting to make sure there are not too many false negatives in the initial curation of the candidates. This is especially important for recruiting events – the signal level of such events is expected to be higher than regular ongoing recruiting process, in order to justify the extra expense and effort.

– Working with the hiring manager and the recruiter to ensure the loops are properly set up to maximize the signal from the interviews – making sure there’s a good balance of more experienced and less experienced interviewers, proper assignment of core competencies for each interviewer, preparing for your own slot in the loop, leading the candidate discussion and making sure the signal from each interviewer is as clear and as objective as possible, and reaching a consensus on the outcome (hire/no hire), as well as working with the hiring manager and the recruiter for the proper offer leveling, and follow up with specific feedback and suggestions to less experienced interviewers on the loop.

All in all, each loop can take anywhere between three and six hours of total time spent on it, and most bar raisers I know were doing 5-7 loops a week. During my training I averaged 4 loops a week, and 6 loops a well as a full bar raiser.

The main responsibility though is ensuring the candidate is raising the bar not only for the specific team, but for the whole company. To this effect, bar raisers have the prerogative of overriding the rest of the loop and rejecting a candidate for whom the rest of the interviewers said Hire. It better be well substantiated decision, of course. Bar raisers also can work with the recruiter to ensure that candidates that were rejected by the majority of the loop and the hiring manager might get a second chance for a loop with a different team, if the candidate has a lot of potential.

There are of course good things about being a bar raiser. The amount of people you meet across different teams is lot bigger than most people have a chance to. Then there’s the travel as well to various recruiting events, but in the country, and international. And there’s a tremendous learning opportunity for picking up and honing skills that are not typical for software engineers.

So, while it did add a considerable amount of work, it was also an awesome challenge and an opportunity for me to learn and grow.

What is it like to be a “bar raiser” at Amazon?

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