From a company that started out as an online book retailer, Amazon is unrecognizable as the prodigious product-slinging platform that has its hands in everything from shipping to streaming to groceries. And it's in the process of expanding even further with new headquarters being built in Arlington, VA, and Long Island City, NY. Amazon was listed as one of the top companies of 2017 by LinkedIn, which only strengthens the pull of this talent magnet.
Even though there are over 20,000 open positions all around the world, the hiring process is very competitive. There are multiple interviews – both in person and over the phone – before you get to the final round, which may require a trip to Amazon's headquarters in Seattle, WA. The hiring process can take weeks, up to a couple months.
As daunting as that may sound, we spoke with someone who did it. She worked for Amazon as a brand manager for its fashion retail team. This is how she got this job.
"I really wanted to work for Amazon because it was such an amazing company as a customer and the culture internally is just so strong," she says.
According to Amazon's website, the first step to getting a job there is just like getting a job at any other company – by filling out an application. With a company this well-known, and a hiring process this competitive (the company receives thousands of applications for each position), you have to find a way to stand out. Often, the best way to do this is through a recommendation from someone within the company. "I was referred internally for the role," she says, by someone she knew from college. "I was interested in Amazon Fashion specifically because it was the epitome of fashion tech in my mind, and it was at a time where they were pushing hard for credibility."
A couple days later, she was contacted by a recruiter asking if she could take an online data analysis test. This was followed by a phone interview a week later. Next thing she knew, she was being invited to fly across the country to Seattle for a series of five back-to-back interviews that were 45 minutes each.
"Know the Amazon leadership principles! All interview questions will relate to one or more of the principles," she advised adding that nearly all of her interview questions were behavior-based. "Use context to know which principle they’re trying to identify in you and cater your answer accordingly."
The hiring guide provided online by Amazon underscores the 12 leadership principles: customer obsession, ownership, invent and simplify, are right a lot, learn and be curious, hire and develop the best, insist on the highest standards, think big, bias for action, frugality, earn trust, dive deep, have backbone; disagree and commit, and deliver results. When considering any job, it is imperative to come prepared to speak about and demonstrate how you would fit into the company's core values and culture.
"Prep, prep, and prep some more," she says of the series of one-on-one interviews. She specifically mentioned the STAR method as something that helped her successfully navigate each question. STAR stands for: Situation, Task, Action, Result. First, you describe the situation you were in, then the task you were responsible for, what actions you took to complete the task, and finally what the results were. For example, an Amazon hiring manager might ask (according to its website): "When did you take a risk, make a mistake, or fail? How did you respond, and how did you grow from that experience?" When it comes to behavioral-based interviewing, the company wants to know how you will react and work within a variety of situations. Using the STAR method can help keep your thoughts organized.
All of her preparation paid off. "I received an offer while traveling back the day after the interview and moved out to Seattle the following month," she shared. "I was thrilled when I got the offer. I felt like my interviews went well so I was hopeful, but you just never know sometimes when you interview. I also had follow-up questions and needed to negotiate some before I was willing to move my life across the country!"
She no longer works at Amazon, but she looks back on her time there as an amazing experience. "I learned more than I thought was possible in that timeframe," she says. "I worked with the smartest and most creative people I’ve ever met and became an even more Amazon-obsessed customer."