This article is meant to give a brief summary of the Amazon interview process. I will walk through every stage in the interview and hiring process, what to expect, and hints along the way.
As a quick note, I didn't participate in the hiring processes for the fulfillment centers, so I won't cover their processes.
In regards to my personal experience, I have hired hundreds of employees for my organizations over the years directly as a hiring manager, as well as indirectly through the hiring managers working for me. As a bar raiser, I facilitated many hundreds of interviews for a wide variety of corporate roles.
Before going through the process...
I wanted to give a few general suggestions and thoughts.
- Plenty of people fail the first / second / third time interviewing. You can usually interview every 6 months. Don't view a rejection as the end of the world, it's a learning experience. Amazon interviews can be rewarding but stressful. Learn how to handle them. Getting good at the Amazon interview process can benefit you anywhere.
- Prepare! I've had a surprising number of people bomb the interview, who clearly did zero research or preparation. Don't be lazy.
- It is common for people to say that they want to change companies, as well as roles. This is why we'll often see a software engineer apply to a management role, because they hope to become a manager. Don't do this. You'll never get in. Apply for the positions you are most qualified for. Get into Amazon. Moving around to different teams or different roles while you're within Amazon is 1000 times easier than doing something strange in the interview process.
Those covered, I'll move on to the interview process.
1. A candidate applies for a role
Someone gets the idea in their head that working at Amazon sounds nice. They apply for a role.
Hint: If you know someone at Amazon, it's better to have them refer you. They might get a bonus. You might have a better chance of your resume being seen.
2. The recruiter and/or the hiring manager reviews the candidate's resume
They have a list of resumes to review every day. Many positions will have many applications every day. They sift through the applications to filter out the resumes which do not match what the position requires. For example, if the position is looking for a manager with at least 5 years of experience, and an engineer applies (with no clear management experience), the application is rejected. This is a silent rejection, and the candidate will hear nothing.
As a side note, occasionally rejected resumes are repurposed for another role which they look suited for (in the example above, perhaps the same team is also looking for software engineers). This is not reliable. You want to apply for the right positions.
Considering the volume of submitted resumes, they are sometimes lost in the shuffle (they get so old that they get bulk rejected), and some are only briefly glanced at before being rejected. This is not done out of malice, it's just that everyone is busy. It's a good reason to occasionally apply for new positions if you haven't heard anything.
Hint: As I'd mentioned in the step above, a referral helps here. If you're remotely suited for a role, and it's a referral, you're much less likely to be arbitrarily rejected. Your referral person can even message the recruiter and/or hiring manager and specifically ask them to look at your resume.
3. If they believe the candidate looks suitable for this or another role, the recruiter sets up a phone screen.
The recruiter will call you to schedule this first interview between you and someone responsible for evaluating candidates for this position. This call is usually the first time candidates will hear from Amazon. If you never heard from Amazon, you didn't make it to this point.
This interview is called a phone screen, but it might also be a video call. Keep your schedule handy to help the recruiter find some available times.
Hint: Candidates often don't reply to us reaching out. We email them once or twice. When we get no reply, we move on. If you apply, watch your inbox! Check your spam folders!
Hint 2: This recruiter is possibly the one who will also be telling you the results of your phone screen. Politely ask for time expectations of when you'll hear back. They'll likely tell you something like within 1-week of your phone screen.
4. If the phone screener believes the candidate is generally qualified, the recruiter sets up an interview loop.
I say generally for a reason. We train interviewers that a phone screen is not a 'hire' or 'no hire' decision, it's a screen to find if a candidate is close to being qualified. It's a lower bar on purpose, because it's a single interview, and it will be error prone. The purpose of the filter is to ensure that anyone who does the full interview loop doesn't waste everyone's time.
This isn't to say that the phone screen is easy. Depending on a variety of factors, you will often have 4 out of 5 interviewers fail at this phase.
This interview lightly touches on all areas of your experience. They want a brief summary of what you've done, briefly hit a few leadership principles, and briefly hit a few important technical / functional skills for the role.
The phone screener will not tell you if you've passed, that's the recruiter's job. So don't ask. That gets awkward.
Hint: As I mentioned in #3 above, you should have a general expectation of when the recruiter will get back to you. If you don't hear anything by that date, wait 1 more day, and then politely email the recruiter asking for an update. Send that email every 3 days. Recruiters go on vacation, interviewers lose track of time and forget to get their feedback in on schedule, or recruiters forget to reply to candidates. No-reply does not mean rejection, it means people make mistakes. I don't think anyone will view it as impolite to ping them occasionally.