Amazon Application Process: A Complete Guide
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Amazon Assessment Test
One of the Big Four global technology companies, Amazon is a major player in e-commerce, digital streaming services, cloud computing and artificial intelligence.
As a leader in pioneering technological innovation, it employs around 840,000 people worldwide.
Jobs exist across various teams and functions including:
- Software development
For those interested in applying, the process is rigorous and includes multiple interviews and Amazon assessment tests.
The company is known for its unique culture, governed by its Leadership Principles. These are the foundations for all Amazon activity and, as such, play a significant role in its recruitment process.
What Are Amazon’s Leadership Principles?
Amazon’s 14 Leadership Principles define the company. They are a shared ethos among employees at every level, not just those in leadership positions.
They form the basis of all its decisions and offer candidates a useful insight into the key traits and characteristics required.
1. Customer Obsession
First and foremost, Amazon looks for employees that understand the customer, what their needs are, and how best to meet them.
It expects this principle to form the basis of all decision making regardless of job role, so questions relating to customer obsession are common in all Amazon assessment tests and interviews.
As an Amazon employee, you’ll be expected to take full ownership of your actions, as well as to act in a manner beneficial to the company as a whole.
ts culture is one of collective responsibility so be prepared to show how you would take ownership of an issue, even if it fell outside of your job remit.
3. Invent and Simplify
Amazon cites constant innovation as key to its success and believes simple solutions are the most effective.
It wants inventive employees, capable of constructing multiple solutions to any given problem, and for those solutions to be broken down into their simplest form.
4. Are Right, A Lot
The level of autonomy given to Amazon employees means you’ll need to demonstrate sound judgement and the ability to work on instinct.
However, this principle is not about perfection. It’s about looking for the best solution, being open to the opinions of others and questioning your own decisions.
5. Learn and Be Curious
This principle speaks for itself. Curiosity and an enthusiasm for continual self-development are key to a successful career at Amazon.
As its systems and processes undergo constant reinvention, you’ll be expected to improve your own skills and knowledge accordingly.
6. Hire and Develop the Best
Amazon is built on a high-performance management culture, meaning its attention is focused on the development of its top performers.
To be successful in your Amazon application, you’ll not only need to demonstrate your own potential but also show you’re committed to nurturing the talent of others.
7. Insist on the Highest Standards
Strongly linked to ownership and the idea of constant innovation, this principle suggests that an Amazon employee’s work is never done and that there’s always room for improvement.
Standards are exceptionally high across the company and it looks for those that strive to exceed expectations.
8. Think Big
This Leadership Principle is built around Amazon’s notion that ‘thinking small is a self-fulfilling prophecy’. It looks for ideas that go beyond the obvious and that play with the boundaries of experimentation.
9. Bias for Action
Amazon actively encourages its employees to take calculated risks based on intuition, rather than prolong decision making with excessive testing.
It believes better lessons are learnt from direct action and prefers assertive decisions over cautious planning.
The frugality principle is all about resourcefulness, creativity and efficient problem-solving.
Amazon believes in providing maximum value in the most cost-effective way and encourages employees to be inventive in their approach, continually finding new ways to do more with less.
11. Earn Trust
Earning trust as an Amazon employee requires honesty, respect for colleagues and an ability to be openly self-critical.
Those who do well are those that hold their hands up when a mistake is made and work quickly to find the best resolution.
12. Dive Deep
This is about taking an interest in the finer details.
Amazon does not want employees that take a top-level approach and leave the technicalities to someone else. It wants people who regularly question processes from top to bottom.
13. Have Backbone; Disagree and Commit
Agreeing simply to keep the peace is not part of Amazon’s culture.
If you have an alternative opinion, you’ll be expected to stand by it with conviction, prove its validity with data-driven evidence and, once you’ve made a decision based on your own opinion, commit to it fully.
14. Deliver Results
The last Leadership Principle focuses on your contribution to the business.
Amazon employees don’t work to complete specific tasks. They work to deliver value by completing tasks in the most effective way possible.
An important term in this principle is ‘key inputs’. You’ll be expected to understand how your job function contributes to the success of Amazon as a whole.
Amazon Application Process
Every team at Amazon works in its own way and each will take a unique approach towards the hiring process.
That said, there are common techniques used across the board and candidates should prepare for the following as part of their Amazon application:
As you’d expect, the first step is to apply online for your desired position.
Amazon does not accept cover letters. Instead, you’ll be asked to answer job-specific questions as part of this initial step.
At this stage, hiring managers are looking to identify candidates that have both the required functional skills and a connection to company values. So, in addition to your application, you’ll also complete an Amazon online assessment.
Amazon Assessment Tests
In some cases, you’ll complete your Amazon assessment tests during your application though, on occasion, they may be sent to you after you’ve applied.
Amazon’s job adverts are heavily detailed so read the role description and skill requirements carefully. This should give you a good indication of the type of tests you can expect to take.
In addition, it’s highly likely you’ll sit one or both of the following as part of your Amazon application:
- Work Style Assessment
- Work Sample Simulations
Work Style Assessment
This Amazon online test is specifically designed to assess your working style and how it fits with the company's Leadership Principles.
You’ll be presented with a set of statements and asked to pick which best describe your working preferences.
Remember, Amazon’s Leadership Principles underpin its entire culture, so be honest here. It’s looking for the right fit and if that’s not you, you’re unlikely to thrive as an Amazon employee.
This test generally takes 10 to 20 minutes to complete.
Work Sample Simulations
These tests are role-specific. You’ll be given a virtual task relevant to the position and will be assessed on how effectively you complete it.
Again, the Leadership Principles will largely dictate how successful you are, so keep them in mind.
This section can take anywhere between 20 minutes to an hour depending on complexity.
If your application is successful and you pass your Amazon assessment tests, you’ll be invited to a telephone interview.
These are behavioural interviews, so be prepared to answer questions that relate to your past experience.
- “Tell me about a time when you failed at a task. What lessons did you learn?”
- “Describe a time where you pulled an unmotivated team together to achieve on objectives.”
As with any interview, use this opportunity to show your interest by asking questions of your own.
Typically, you’ll know if you’ve been successful at this stage within two working days.
Face-to-face interviews are the final stage of the application process.
On the day, you can expect anywhere between two to seven interviews with different company representatives, each lasting 45 minutes to an hour. The number of interviewers you meet will be dependant on the role in question.
As with your telephone interview, the questions will largely be behavioural. Each interviewer will be looking for strong examples of work-based situations that show how you’re a good fit and how well you align with the Leadership Principles.
They’ll also be ensuring you have the knowledge, skills and commitment required, and since Amazon is a company that looks to hire and develop the best, you’ll also be assessed on your future growth potential.
Some teams may include further Amazon assessment tests at this stage, such as group tasks, role play or coding exercises in the case of technical positions. You may also be required to complete a written assessment. Where this is the case, you’ll be informed in advance of your interview.
Top Tips for Applying for a Job at Amazon
Amazon jobs are highly sought after; competition is fierce and the recruitment process is tough. You should prepare as you would for any interview by conducting thorough company and job-specific research, preparing answers to possible interview questions and taking plenty of relevant practice aptitude tests.
To give yourself the best chance of success in your Amazon application, you should also follow the tips below:
Know the Leadership Principles Inside Out
You’ll be assessed by these at every stage of the process so make sure you fully grasp what each one entails.
Amazon knows that its culture is unique and accepts you might not have applied these principles directly in the past. The key is to demonstrate understanding and show how a given scenario could have been improved by the application of any of the Leadership Principles.
Use the STAR Technique
This is a technique for answering interview questions that Amazon recommends to its interviewees.
The STAR technique refers to:
When constructing answers to behavioural interview questions, be sure to explain the scenario, what you were working towards, the actions taken specifically by you and the subsequent outcome(s).
Frame your answer with a beginning, middle and end; provide in-depth detail, but be concise.
Use Data-Based Evidence
Amazon is a company driven by data. Wherever possible, look to support your answers with measurable metrics.
Any claims made with regards to achievements, success and even failure should be backed up with detailed evidence.
Own Up to Your Mistakes
Another defining aspect of Amazon culture is its willingness to learn from failure.
Hiring managers aren’t looking for perfection. They’re looking for candidates that have taken risks, owned up to mistakes and worked towards long term success of the back of short term failure.
Be Prepared to Talk Around Technical Topics
If you are applying for a software development role, part of the Amazon application process will involve technical evaluation, and Amazon recommends you consult with your recruitment contact for information on which topics are likely to form part of your interview.
These include things like:
- Programming languages
- Operating systems
You can find a full list and respective overviews on Amazon’s Software Development Topics page.
A successful application for a job at Amazon requires far more than the relevant skills and expertise.
It also requires a full understanding of its Leadership Principles and how these will be an integral part of everyday life as an Amazon employee.
One final point to note is a reiteration of Amazon’s customer-first focus.
Remember that the needs of the end-user should be the starting point for all your decisions. So, at every interview stage, be sure to demonstrate your commitment to customer experience and satisfaction.