The Amazon interview process is remarkably consistent across its global offices. Regardless of job title or location, every single Amazon job applicant goes through the same five-step process. When Amazon opened a new office in Australia, it sent Seattle-based employees to set up the recruiting process.
I run a coaching practice that helps people prepare for interviews with companies such as Amazon, Google and Facebook. In this article, I’m providing you with an end-to-end overview of Amazon’s interview process.
Step 1: You’ll hear from a recruiter
An Amazon recruiter will reach out to you via email or LinkedIn mail to set up a time to chat. Schedule this phone call as soon as possible; whereas some of my clients want to spend time getting ready before they have their first call, this is a mistake. Don’t wait. When you hear from Amazon, your goal is to schedule your first call with the recruiter as soon as possible.
Step 2: The first phone call
The call will last 15 to 30 minutes, during which the recruiter will ask you questions about your resume. They’re trying to gauge your interest level and assess if you’re a good fit. They might also ask you about your salary expectations, if you’re willing to relocate, and a few other logistical questions.
About the salary question: Do your homework. Go to a salary site such as Paysa, Glassdoor or PayScale to get a sense of Amazon’s pay level and market rate for your level of experience. Come up with a realistic but competitive salary range for yourself. The key is to have a range that includes a combination of base salary, bonus, and stocks. Don’t sell yourself short, and tell the recruiter that you’ve done your research. Communicate clearly and professionally what compensation you expect. If your target range is out of line, they will let you know.
Assuming there is no red flag, the next step is for the recruiter to schedule the next phone interview(s).
Step 3: More phone interviews
You will have one to three additional phone interviews. The first one might be with a hiring manager or a senior member of your team. They’ll ask you questions about your resume and some behavior-based questions. If you’re applying for a technical position such as software development engineer, you should be prepared to answer algorithm, data structure, and coding questions. If you’re applying for junior technical positions, you might also get an online coding test.
Two tips for this stage: Make sure your cell phone connection or your Internet connection (for IP phones) is reliable, and have a pen and notebook handy.
Step 4: Onsite interviews
Once you pass the phone interviews, you’ll be invited to interview at an Amazon office. This is what’s commonly known as “having a loop.” Here’s how this stage will go:
- A few days before your onsite interview, the recruiter will provide you with an interview schedule. Check each interviewer’s LinkedIn profile and prepare accordingly.
- Your will talk to 4-6 people during your onsite interview loop. One of them will take you to lunch. Since you’ll be doing most of the talking during lunch, plan on ordering something light.
A word about the ‘bar raiser’
One unique construct of an Amazon interview is the role of bar raiser. The bar raiser is a trained interview expert who lives and breathes the Amazon leadership principles. Their role is to make sure that the next new hire raises the average performance of Amazon employees. The bar raiser also has veto power over your hiring.
How do you find out who is the bar raiser in your group? Good question:
- They are likely to be outside of the main hiring team.
- The bar raiser tends to focus on questions related to the Amazon leadership principles.
- If you have friends who work at Amazon, enlist their help. Send your friends your list of Amazon interviewers and ask them to look up the interviewers in Amazon’s internal phone tool. Bar raisers have special badges next to their names.
One last tip for this stage: Eat a good breakfast before you go in for your interviews — it’ll be a long day, and you won’t have time to eat much lunch.
Step 5: Offer/no offer
You should hear back from the recruiter within a week.
If you don’t get an offer, it’ll be a quick call, as Amazon has a policy of not giving any interview feedback. However, if you’ve built good relationships with the recruiter or other interviewers, you might be able to get some informal feedback. Normally, you’ll need to wait for another six months to reapply, but in some cases, the recruiter might feel that you’d be a good fit for other teams. They’ll circulate your resume and reach out to you if they find a fit elsewhere inside Amazon.
If Amazon makes you an offer, the recruiter will go over the offer details on the call and get your feedback. Once you negotiate and agree on the numbers, they will send you the paperwork to complete.
Amazon has a unique compensation structure. It consists of base salary, sign on bonus, and Restricted Stock Units (RSUs). Amazon tends to offer lower than market base salary, but they offer a generous sign-on bonus that is vested over two years. Your base salary plus your sign-on bonus should be 10-20 percent higher than your current compensation. Amazon RSU vesting schedule is very different from most high- tech companies. They’re vested 5 percent, 15 percent, 40 percent, and 40 percent over four years, while most tech companies vest 25 percent each year.
Don’t quit your job just yet, because Amazon still has to conduct a background check. Once you pass, you can safely quit your job and prepare for your new job at Amazon.
Get further help navigating the process
Interviewing at Amazon is intense and rigorous, and there’s an element of unpredictability about it. Once you’re contacted by an Amazon recruiter, respond as soon possible. A strong sense of urgency during this process can accelerate your progress. For additional insight into the Amazon interview process, use the five-pillar framework from my book, How to Get a Job at Amazon.