Amazon Interview Manual

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Amazon in Italy employs more than 12,500 permanent employees (of which 3,000 hired in 2021 alone) in its more than 50 locations. Over the years, people with all types of experience, education and skill levels have been hired by engineers and software developers – for example, to “teach” Italian to Alexa – to entry level positions. Salaries are competitive and benefits are numerous, with innovative programs such as Career Choice and pioneering initiatives on the parental leave front.

But how do you go through the interview to win the job? Amazon has a rather sophisticated screening process, with telephone and personal interviews with managers and recruiters. What do they look at in the selection process? What are the personal skills necessary to be hired? The recruiters follow a specific procedure to choose the candidates, of which we tell you the so-called dos & don’ts. Get ready to read, because it is a full-bodied – but precious – professional manual which, once learned, could turn your life around.

Not to discourage you – on the contrary – but let’s start by saying that to become part of the Amazon world it takes a lot of effort: the screening starts right from the CV screening phase. How to be noticed? Here are some key tips: Don’t answer a job application or take an interview if you’re not ready; rely on open positions published on the site; if you want to work as a developer, it is good to let the facts speak before the resume; learn to think fast; be found: many “miss the opportunity” because they have not provided enough contacts; rest: if you pass the telephone interview you will access a session of several interviews in one of the Amazon offices, a test that requires freshness and great clarity.

After the online application, after the first screening, you get to the telephone interview or via remote call which can last from 45 minutes to an hour, especially for software engineer positions; in this call, the candidate is usually asked about his / her background and studies; Experience with tools, tools, development platforms, or programs for the type of job required in the position is also sought. At this stage the secret is analyze the problem well before giving the solution, explaining verbally the logical process with which you want to face the task. In the end, the recruiter leaves a few minutes for the candidate’s questions: to be positively evaluated it is important to ask them, because they denote an aptitude for intellectual agility.

If you pass the telephone interview, you access the interview “on-site” that is directly in an Amazon office. But even before that you will be called by a recruiter, who in about 30 minutes by phone will explain step by step how the day of tests and interviews is structured on site: it is a very important moment, because it allows you to prepare and to know, for example, which and how many recruiters you will have to deal with, and what kind of tasks, tests or questions will be submitted. The commitment lasts an entire day and is divided into several individual interviews (from two to seven) of 45-60 minutes each, with five representatives or managers of as many teams.

The most precious secret to pass the interview with Amazon (as well as clearly mastering the required skills), in any case, it is to know and know how to apply the 16 Principles of Leadership, heart of the company philosophy, trying to decline them in what your work experiences have been, because it is precisely there that the “behavioral” questions (avoiding “puzzle questions” or mathematical riddles) with representatives or managers of as many teams will be concentrated. Here they are:

Passion for the customer: in Amazon we talk about “customer obsession”, obsession with the customer, because everything revolves around it. Often recruiters ask to tell about an occasion when the candidate helped a client in a difficult process and how they dealt with the situation;

Taking responsability: the candidate is asked to tell at least one case in which he has taken on the risk, responsibility for a choice or a project. It is also okay to tell about projects that later failed. In this way it is possible to explain how failure is faced, perhaps transforming it into success;

Invent and simplify: in this case the candidate is asked to tell or explain how he has created an innovative product or solution, capable of making an experience or a need or need of the customer easier;

Often be right: in Amazon it is important to demonstrate how it is possible to achieve a goal even by overcoming doubts and hesitations of teams or work colleagues or other types of obstacles. The candidate is then asked for an example in which between two solutions to the same problem he has chosen one in particular because he knew that in this way the return on investment would be ensured;

Learn and be curious: for Amazon, training is crucial and it is considered important for an employee to continue studying, reading, discovering new things. For example, recruiters ask the candidate how and where to find the time to stay inspired, acquire new knowledge and make their work innovative;

Hire and grow the best: One of the most appreciated qualities in Amazon is the candidate’s ability to recognize the talent of others and to hire or surround themselves with competent and even better people. During the interview it is useful to tell about at least one occasion in which, for example, you have been able to manage a case of poor performance by a member of the work team and what has been done to overcome the impasse;

Insist on the highest standards: based on this principle, a true leader must never stop perfecting a service or product but must always demonstrate that he always raises the bar a little bit of the standards to be achieved;

Think big: recruiters often ask the candidate for an example of a new business or an alternative solution to a problem that others have already tried to solve. It serves to test the terrain of so-called collateral thinking, useful for imagining products and services that do not exist yet;

Propensity for action: during the interview it is necessary to demonstrate that you can quickly choose between multiple options rather than brooding or thinking too much before making a decision.

Frugalità: every penny saved is a cent earned in your career. Telling at least one case in which you have saved your team or company money is useful for passing the interview, and in the same way it is essential to make people understand your propensity to achieve a goal even with few tools or resources available;

Gaining Trust. It is necessary to demonstrate that you know how to listen to colleagues, superiors, with humility, and above all to be attentive to the needs of your work environment; in fact these are the traits of a leader suitable to work in Amazon, that is to say a person who, instead of commanding, knows how to lead his team with kindness and firmness;

Go deep: the interview may be asked to analyze data and understand if these parameters or metrics differ from what happens in reality or from the results obtained; the recruiter wants to understand how the candidate behaves in this case, how he copes with this difference;

Have character: to disagree and adhere to decisions: this is the most difficult part of working at Amazon, that is to demonstrate that you know how to keep the point in case you do not agree with managerial decisions or the work team, without however refusing to fulfill those decisions. In this case, the recruiter wants to understand if the candidate is able to expose their perplexities and doubts and to assert their reasons respecting their colleagues in tone, manner and experience; it can also happen that you have to tell about when you had a difficult fight in the workplace and how you have overcome it;

Achieve results: Amazon is a data-driven company and every number, for all intents and purposes, counts; the question at the interview could be “tell me about an occasion in which you have overcome an obstacle and obtained a result” and here the answer will have to take into account measurable and objective parameters and data to be provided to the recruiter;

Commitment to become the best employers in the world: it is necessary to demonstrate the desire to create an increasingly safe, productive and efficient work environment, based on the principles of diversity, equity and equal opportunities.

Success and growth come with great responsibilities: at the end of the day we have to go home with the knowledge that tomorrow we can do even better. A good leader creates more than he consumes and always leaves things better than he found them. Have you succeeded?

In responding, do not forget, as we said earlier, Amazon is a company based on data: the answer must be not only well structured but also, if possible, enriched by examples, measures or data, preferably referring to recent situations. We suggest that you formulate the answers to the behavioral questions following the method STAR (Situation, Task, Action and Result; in English: Situation, Task, Action and Result), including examples that refer to Amazon’s leadership principles. Also consider that some of Amazon’s most successful programs they were born from unsuccessful projectsThis is why all candidates are encouraged to provide specific examples of the occasions in which they have taken risks, have failed or made mistakes and which, consequently, have made them grow or have led to their success. Failure is a necessary element of innovation. It is not optional. Amazon believes it is critical to fail and try again, until success is achieved.

The day of the interview it is best to arrive early, in comfortable and informal clothing, with a computer. In-person interviews will be from two to seven, depending on the position requested: manager, team members, important stakeholders from related teams, and a “bar raiser” (an objective third party from another team, expert in evaluating talent in based on leadership principles, identifying people who have the potential to “raise the bar” in the long term). All recruiters will review the growth potential of the candidate even beyond the required position, evaluating the way in which experiences and skills are compatible with the key competences of the role and with company principles. Better to behave in the same way with all recruiters, instead of “adapting” the responses to their roles. In summary: preparation, sincerity, informal dress, leadership principles and multiple interviews for maximum objectivity. Here’s the recipe for the hiring process at Amazon – now it’s all up to you!

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