How to Successfully Pass Amazon’s On-Site Interview

Amazon, the biggest online company in the world, has over 647,500 employees worldwide. However, that’s not to say they let just anyone into their company. Amazon’s infamous job application process can take up to months, thus ensuring that those who stay are either the best of the best or people who are intent on working for the company.

The first part of Amazon’s job application involves several phone and/or video call interviews, online exams, and more. Once you get past those hurdles, you get the final on-site interview in their local office. Here’s how to get past that final dreaded interview and get a high chance of passing the application process.

Perform Well on the Phone Interviews

Before you can even see Amazon’s offices, you have to do well in the initial phone and video interviews. Whether an Amazon recruiter sees your profile on LinkedIn or you’ve personally applied for a job listing, if Amazon is interested in hiring you, you’ll receive an email asking for a phone interview.

After getting past the first phone interview, you’ll be subjected to more interviews from higher management and other people of interest in Amazon. Expect to receive phone interviews, video call interviews, and online exams for more technical job positions. Once you pass all these, you’ll be invited to the on-site interview in your local Amazon office.

Know Their On-Site Interview Process

The daunting thing about Amazon’s interview process is that it’s not a traditional cookie-cutter setting. You don’t just go into a room with two or three managers, answer a few questions, and then get out. Expect you’ll be tested on how well you get along with your potential team and how well you fit in with Amazon’s ideals.

The on-site interview process can be different based on the job you’re applying for and where the office is located. However, mentally prepare yourself to be interviewed by at least four people. They may keep the interview within the office, though some interviews may continue to lunchtime if time permits.

Look Out for the Bar Raiser

Did you know that back in the mid- and late- nineties, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos would insist on interviewing every applicant? He had such high standards and believed in Amazon’s slogan and Leadership Principles so much that he grilled even the entry-level applicants applying for his company. While it’s logistically impossible for him to do it today, Amazon’s hiring process still revolves around his ideals.

No matter where you have your interview, always lookout for the “Bar Raiser” in your group of interviewers. Amazon continues to honor Bezos’ in-depth process and, in any group of interviewers, always has a trained bar raiser who will see if a potential applicant can raise the standards of Amazon’s employees.

The bar raiser is a third-party member (meaning they’re not a hiring manager or your direct supervisor) who lives by Amazon’s Leadership Principles. They had undergone comprehensive training and can evaluate a candidate’s character that may slip notice of most managers. After every interview, they can assess how well you would do at Amazon, provide a fair assessment, and ask questions your supervisors may forget to ask.

Survive the Curve Ball Questions

Aside from their unconventional interview process, expect your interviewers to stray away from the traditional interview questions (e.g. “What are your strengths?” or “Why should we hire you?”). Expect them to throw questions that either keep you thinking on your feet (“Why Amazon?”) or modified cookie-cutter questions that force you to think differently (“How do you handle a missing deadline?” instead of asking “How do you manage deadlines?”).

The Probability of Passing

Amazon remains quiet about the statistics of their hiring rate. So, interview coaches can only guess how many people make it to the on-site interview stage or how many people ever receive a job offer. However, according to Misha Yurchenko, author of Cracking the Amazon Interview, around 20 percent of candidates (or around 1 in 5) that take the on-site interview will be given a job offer.

This may seem brutal, but it’s pretty common in most companies to interview four or five people for one job position. So, based on Yurchenko’s available data, if 50 people applied for one job position:

  • 10 applicants would be emailed for a phone interview; (1 in 5)
  • Around 5 will pass the initial interviews and be given an on-site interview; (1 in 2)
  • Only one person will be given the job offer

Amazon has always believed in hiring the best and never settling for any one who cannot raise their standards. Which is why there’s never a fixed time frame on how long it takes to fill a position. If you’re lucky, you can make such a good impression that it takes you a couple of weeks to receive an offer. In other reported cases cited by Yurchenko, however, it is possible for a position to remain open for years even with many on-site interviewees. So, if no applicant can rise to the occasion, Amazon can survive leaving the job position open until they find someone who meets their standards.

Junior Roles vs. Senior Roles

There are exceptions to Amazon’s hiring process, though. For instance, lower-level positions like entry-level positions and junior roles are easier to fill. Aside from the job requiring fewer qualifications, Amazon is more lenient for these types of jobs. However, don’t expect these to be easy, given Amazon’s reputation for hiring individuals.

Senior roles, on the other hand, have higher standards. Factors like referrals and a lengthy resume do not ensure a job at Amazon. If you cannot impress the interviewers or show the potential to work well and raise Amazon’s standards, then you won’t get the job.

Amazon’s infamously difficult hiring process can seem daunting. However, this shouldn’t be a reason NOT to apply to the biggest online company in the world. As long as you do your research, prepare accordingly, and highlight your best qualities, you stand a chance to be their next hire.

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