Amazon Application Process: A Complete Guide
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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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
To apply for a job with Amazon, there are many pre-set stages that you will need to consider.
As you can imagine, you will need to apply online for the position of your choice. To do this, you must create an Amazon.jobs account. Here, you will be asked to upload a copy of your CV or resume and answer any job-specific questions.
The second stage of an Amazon job application is to complete an assessment test. Some tests may be job-specific, others may relate to the Amazon leadership principles.
In addition, Amazon will likely ask you to participate in a workplace simulation test so that they can see how you work in different scenarios.
Once you've passed the assessment tests, you will be asked to participate in a telephone interview. This is the third stage of the job application process, and questions will be largely behavioral-based.
If you are successful at this stage, you will be invited to the Amazon offices for a face-to-face interview day.
The Amazon interview day will feature a series of interviews with different representatives from the company. Questions will be heavily aligned with the Amazon leadership principles, and you will be expected to demonstrate your potential.
As a large company that relies on having the best possible staff, it's unsurprising that Amazon has lengthy recruitment processes. As you can imagine, the more senior the position you are applying for, the longer the recruitment process will likely take. With many different stages to the application, you can expect it to take as long as three months.
Once you begin the application process, you will be kept informed about the status of your application via the online portal.
Amazon's interview process is extremely thorough. You will be expected to participate in a telephone interview before being invited to an interview day at Amazon's offices.
During the site visit, you could be interviewed by as many as six or seven different people who will all be looking to see if you fit in with the Amazon corporate culture.
There is no set timeframe between submitting your application and being invited to an interview. This depends on the seniority of the job that you are applying for. It can vary between three weeks and three months.
After an interview takes place (either by phone or face-to-face), Amazon has a '2 and 5 Promise'. This is their pledge to update you as to whether you have been successful or not between two and five days after the interview takes place.
All jobs are listed on the official Amazon jobs website, 'amazon.jobs'.
You need to register for a free account to apply for a job. Once you have a profile, you can search for suitable positions and upload a copy of your resume.
The online portal will take you through the entire Amazon hiring process. In addition, you will be able to see the current status of your application and learn more about what Amazon expects from its employees.
Amazon's online portal makes it easy for applicants to track the progress of their job applications.
You will note that three distinct categories will update you. These categories are updated in real-time, so even if the application status hasn't changed, you can feel confident that you know where you are within your recruitment journey.
Application submitted means that they had received your application, but it has not yet been reviewed by hiring managers.
Under consideration means that the hiring managers are in the process of reviewing your application.
No longer under consideration means that you have been unsuccessful.
There are no guaranteed ways to speed up your application, but there are some techniques you can use to make your application stand out from your peers.
First, acquaint yourself with Amazon's leadership principles. These guide the entire ethos of the company.
You need to be well aware of what the company is looking for from its candidates, so try to think about how you can weave any particular keywords into your resume and your responses to their initial job questions.
You also need to be well aware of the job description. Amazon job adverts are descriptive, and they give a lot of information about the job role itself and what type of candidate the company is looking for.
It would help if you prepared in full before submitting your answers and your resume in the initial stages of your application. The closer your application links to the leadership principles and the job description, the more likely your submission will be picked up by applicant tracking filters and reviewed by a potential hiring manager.
Suppose you have been unsuccessful in the early stages of your Amazon job application. In that case, you will notice that your status will change on the online portal to 'No longer under consideration'.
If you have been invited to a face-to-face interview, you can expect to have a call from a recruiter within five business days.
It would be impossible for Amazon to personally reply to every single applicant who applies to work for the company. That's why the firm established its online jobs portal, which allows individuals to track the status of their job applications.
There could be many reasons you were unsuccessful in your Amazon job application.
If you are applying for a technical role or a senior position, the recruiters may have felt that you did not have the right experience required. Perhaps the role required a specific level of education, in which case, you could enhance future applications by looking at what qualifications you could study for.
You may feel that you have the skills that Amazon is looking for, but if they are not implicitly stated on your resume or your LinkedIn profile, you may not have passed through any automated filters.
Finally, as part of the application, you are asked to answer a series of questions before being invited to a telephone interview and face-to-face interview. If your answers don't give the recruiter the confidence that you are the right candidate for the job, you will likely be unsuccessful.
The assessments are part of the initial screening process. If you fail the Amazon assessment tests, you will not move on to the next stage of the application process, which is the telephone interview.
If you have not been invited to an interview or see the status 'No longer under consideration', you can assume that you failed the Amazon Assessment test.
Some candidates may be tempted to cheat on the Amazon online assessments in a bid to pass to the next stage of their application.
For example, they may use a separate device to look up the answers to any technical questions.
But Amazon does have assessment reviewers who are there to look for any unusual activity. They can see when you answer any questions and whether you are using tools such as copy and paste.
If they can see that you've not answered a single question for an hour, yet in the last fifteen minutes, you manage to answer every question perfectly, they may have grounds for suspicion.
If you pass the test, you will move to the next stage, which is the telephone interview. Again, Amazon will not discriminate against you if they have no proof of foul play. However, if cheating is suspected, you may find that interviewers could be forewarned and could use their questioning to try and delve into the matter in more detail.
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.