We’ve all heard what a great company Zappos is. Their service is so good that customers evangelize to friends, neighbors, family and colleagues, creating possibly the greatest word-of-mouth marketing machine ever.

How do they do it? Well, it obviously has something to do with people selection. Turns out they have a fascinating approach to disqualifying people who either wouldn’t fit or simply don’t have what it takes to do the job effectively:

They pay you to quit.

If you get past the initial job interview and enter Zappos’ four-week training program, you’re offered money in exchange for your resignation at the end of each week. The conversation goes something like, “If you don’t think this job is right for you, leave now and the money is yours.” The sum gradually increases and caps at $2,000 after week four.

This is no frivolous gesture. It’s anchored in hard calculations about the high cost of training people and then having them leave. If people aren’t going to succeed, Zappos wants them to self-select and opt out as quickly as possible.

You’re not likely to adopt the Zappos post-hire bribe. I know of no other company that has. But what motivated them to do it – the high cost of bad hires – should motivate us all to do whatever we can to smoke out unqualified job candidates before we hire them.

photo credit: theritters

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