Zappos Judges Candidates First By Cultural Fit

Acing white board tests and demonstrating rock star skills isn’t enough when it comes to Amazon-owned Zappos. Apparently, the online shoe retailer wants more. And, unfortunately, the more is something that can be hard to deliver – unless you’re willing to undergo a personality transformation.

Zappos ThumbnailIn a speech to last week’s START conference, Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh said a candidate’s make-or-break moment comes when HR interviews them solely to figure out whether they’ll be a good cultural fit. After all the traditional interviews about technical skills, experience and fit with other team members, this is the one that really counts.

Said Hsieh:

We’ve actually passed on a lot of really smart, talented people that we know can make an immediate impact on our top or bottom line, but if they’re not good for the company culture, we won’t hire them for that reason alone.

Can You Walk Like This?

So what does Zappos consider a cultural fit? The company puts it out there on its website. In its words:

  • Deliver Wow through Service
  • Embrace and Drive Change
  • Create Fun and a Little Weirdness
  • Be Adventurous, Creative and Open-Minded
  • Pursue Growth and Learning
  • Build Open and Honest Relationships with Communication
  • Build a Positive Team and Family Spirit
  • Do More with Less
  • Be Passionate and Determined
  • Be Humble

Zappos takes this stuff seriously: How well you adhere to these values can count more than your performance when it comes to keeping your job there.

4 Responses to “Zappos Judges Candidates First By Cultural Fit”

  1. jgalt

    So, in other words, they want a bunch of self-important wankers that can pretend to be humble. Yeah, they’ve got enough of that here, not interested in going someplace that actually *prides* themselves on such New-Age bull-cookies.

  2. Gringo

    I find their list concerning in the way it was written. While there is a tendency to capitalize nouns on websites (eg Welcome to our Homepage, Please enter your Username and Password) , their list is capitalizing words that don’t make sense in that way. I think I read once that is a sign that someone has a psychological issue but I can’t recall the name for it. Those who have ideas about how to judge get judged, I suppose.

    I’m not sure about the whole hiring by culture idea. People can change every 5 years so does that mean that people have a shelf life of 5 years and there are varying levels of intensity in application of creativity especially from renaissance art to modern art. Modern art being poop on a stick, sometimes literally where renaissance painters had a goal of realism and sometimes you might swear you were looking at a picture.

    Take this phrase “Be Adventurous, Creative and Open-Minded”.
    Now this conversation.
    Person A – Alright we have a new project, I was thinking we would go with .net for the backend.
    Person B – But I was thinking we could use PHP because none of us have worked with it.
    Person C – I think we should try something fun, let’s obfuscate the entire front end code with Javascript and make AJAX calls to the back-end instead of being set in a “language”.

    Who is going to be the voice of reason if everyone is always chasing the butterfly is where I’m going with my mock theater. If you are always chasing the newest things don’t you always stay a generalist because you can’t focus on minutia that can improve development. It seems to me like there would be a lot of 101 skill levels if adventure is the word of the day.

    Do we even need to mention that they couldn’t figure out how to use the word “they” instead of “he” when talking about their potential candidate.