page contents
Previous month:
May 2017
Next month:
July 2017

June 2017

Scope, Complexity, Recency, Relevancy

QuestionSome may still refer to Amazon as an “online retailer”.  I, however, proudly think of Amazon as one of the Big 4 technology companies.  That means we build cool stuff.  The kind of stuff that only comes from ideation that knows no limits.  If we can dream it, we can figure out how to make it.  That means that we need to hire highly intelligent, driven, out of the box thinkers who create, enhance, launch, break, re-build, expand, and who go into the deep end without a life preserver. 

We are the antithesis of a micro managed environment.  Micro management suffocates creativity.  We are purposefully ambiguous – we hire strategic thinkers to figure it out.  We need the wildly creative to grow.  When you have the opportunity to interview at Amazon, remember that examples of your work history should center around scope, complexity, recency, and relevancy.  Examples from 20 years ago – unless that product had a huge impact on the market or are still in use today – should probably be left out.  Scope is a little more challenging, admittedly.  Few companies operate at our scope and scale but if you can bring examples in which you built or enhanced something meaningful, we can suss out those critical thinking skills.   Complexity is important as well – that can come in two flavors.  Perhaps you took something unnecessarily complex and simplified it.  Or maybe there was opportunity to create or enhance something that was too simple or not meaningful and you designed a process that made your business, whatever that business, more impactful. 

As you go through the Amazon interview process, or any like journey, remember to look through the lens of the person sitting across the table.  How can your depth parlay?   

Amazon Welcomes Jeffrey Tambor to Campus

Amazon’s Seattle urban campus community offers consistent opportunities to meet inspirational leaders from across the globe. Amazon Fishbowls are our very own assembly-style speaker or concert engagements, which take place in the Amazon Meeting Center. Amazon Fishbowls have drawn former presidential candidates, world renowned actors and directors, artists, authors, advocates, and philanthropists.

Most recently, I attended a fishbowl with writer and actor, Jeffrey Tambor, who spoke about his book, Are You Anybody, a memoir. I counted down the days until this event, and I was especially interested in whether Tambor would speak about Amazon Prime Video’s role in the Golden Globe winning series, Transparent.

Jeffrey Tambor
Amazonians look forward to welcoming our Fishbowl guests to campus, and often find time to speak with guests after the Fishbowl, or during the session’s Q&A. Check out this photo of Jeffrey Tambor exploring our Community Banana Stand

Beyond his recently published book, and book tour – Jeffrey spoke about his experience on the Golden Globe nominated Amazon series, Transparent. Amazonians were excited to hear that Tambor was on board with Amazon Prime Video streaming even before Transparent started filming. He shared that at the time that Jill Soloway pitched the idea of Transparent and Amazon Prime Video to him, Tambor had also received an offer to do a basic network television show that he said would have done well, but it was too comfortable – his main message to Amazonians is to pick the option that ignites your fire, rather than the option that is more likely to succeed. He took the risk with Transparent because he believed in Amazon, and because ultimately – it was an adventure that excited him.

The session concluded with audience Q&A where some audience members inquired about Tambor’s experience with Transparent, though many questions connected to specific stories and examples in his book. Those who did not read the book beforehand are sure to catchup, and order their copy on Amazon.

While Amazon Fishbowls are open to all full time Amazon employees, they often serve as a way for Consumer Division teams to venture outside of the office together in groups. Those who lead team meetings often use Fishbowl topics and speakers as a launch point for a brainstorm session, continuing to strengthen our approach to innovation and teamwork.

A conversation with Tifa Nguyen about Year Up and interning at Amazon

In Marketplace, Amazon’s organization focused on helping third-party merchants sell on our platform, we like to invent and simplify whenever we can.  Part of this process is attempting to do things that nobody else does – and in this area, Marketplace Technologies Quality Assurance delivers.  MTQA is the team I am a part of, and what I am sharing with you today is an example of how we innovate in the area of hiring by way of our Quality Assurance internship program.

In Seattle, there is a nonprofit organization called Year Up  devoted to helping young adults gain the skills and experience necessary to enter professional fields like high tech, and it is this mission that drew MTQA’s attention.  We have developed a partnership with Year Up to hire Quality Assurance interns, a unique practice not found anywhere else in Amazon. Of course, Amazon hires other interns, but our partnership with Year Up is different in that it gives us access to talented people who might not otherwise be part of our intern selection pool. Year Up provides urban young adults with training, resources and support that helps them jump start a professional career and/or continued education.

Tifa 1I decided to interview Tifa Nguyen, the newest Year Up intern on our team, to get her perspective on what it’s like to work at Amazon, the background she came from, and what her experience has been like through the entire process.

Joe: Hi Tifa, thanks for agreeing to participate in this interview. Please tell us about yourself.

Tifa: Hi Joe, thank you for taking the time to listen and share my stories.  I am currently interning at Amazon (obviously) as a QAE (Quality Assurance Engineer).  Prior to this, I was getting trained full time, for six months at a nonprofit organization called Year Up while working as a server at a family-owned Japanese restaurant during the weekends.  Coming from a non-tech background, landing an internship at Amazon is a huge step for me and I am very excited for what it has to offer.

Joe: Can you explain what Year Up is? 

Tifa: Year Up is an intensive one-year program where participants get trained on-site with courses in IT, Financial Operations, Sales, and more. The program offers professional skills classes for the first six months, and then earn real-work experience at their assigned internship.  Its mission is to provide urban young adults with in-demand skills, college-level classes, and support that will empower them to reach their full potential and achieve a meaningful and professional career.  Year Up has 24 campuses around the US that offer courses including IT help desk, QA, web development and data analysis, as well as soft-skill courses that include business writing and public speaking.  For me specifically, I was placed on the QA track with a minor in project management and now here I am: two-thirds of the way done with my six-month internship at Amazon.  Year Up welcomes low- to moderate-income young adults between the ages of 18 to 24.  Everything is completely free, and students even get weekly stipends.  Students are also provided with many resources from Year Up’s Student Services department that support and help them succeed throughout the whole year.  The courses we take are also college-credit applicable after completing the whole program.

Continue reading "A conversation with Tifa Nguyen about Year Up and interning at Amazon" »

Lauren Schwartz: What happens after I apply?

Editors note: I'm excited to introduce another blogger who has recently joined the Amazonian Blog team. Lauren Schwartz is a recruiting coordinator supporting our business and technical teams focused on third-party sellers on Aside from being a fellow word-lover like me, she will be a great resource to all of you with application and interview process related questions. So I asked her to start off by providing some insight into what happens when you apply for a job on and specifically, the meaning of the statuses you see when you check in on your application. Take it away, Lauren! 

Man and imacWe know the application process at Amazon can prove exhausting, and at times – confusing. If you applied to a job, or multiple jobs via the career site, you are probably familiar with checking in on your status, which appears on your candidate dashboard. This blog post aims to answer questions you may have about what is going on “behind the scenes” once you officially apply to a job at Amazon.

To see your application status, starting at the home page, go to the right hand corner menu and click “Review application status”. This allows you to see your personal portal, and where you are in the process with each of the jobs you have applied to. I have translated each of the application statuses below:

Under consideration

  • Your resume is under review, which means recruiters can access and evaluate your resume relative to the hiring criteria they are working with for the role.
  • Recruiters may push your resume to a role’s hiring manager for review.
  • You may receive an invitation to a phone interview with a recruiter or hiring team member.
  • If the role is a technical role such as a software development engineer, you may receive an invitation to take an online technical assessment.

No longer under consideration

  • Recruiters reviewed your resume and decided that your experience does not align with the hiring needs for the position.


  • This status means that you have had an on-site interview, received an offer from Amazon and accepted it. Of course, you would already have known this without reviewing the status. We hope you are as excited to join us as we are to have you!

I hope this helps you understand what you are seeing when you check in on the status of your applications for Amazon jobs. Due to the high volume of resumes we receive, we can’t answer additional questions about your personal application status here. If you have questions about how to use or about our interview process, please let us know.

Storytelling is a key interview success factor

BookPeople are always asking recruiters for career and job-finding advice.  In particular, I find that candidates often want to know how to be successful going through a challenging interview process like that of Amazon’s.  One thing many successful candidates do is they remember to tell stories and that every story has a beginning, a middle and an end. 

When you are engaged with a company like ours that drives their evaluation process around company culture and Leadership Principles, you have to understand their company philosophies and why they are important.  Then think about your own career path and history – how does it relate to what they stand for?  Be thoughtful about how your own professional DNA can map to the company’s values. 

When asked, “Can you give me an example of a time when …” think back on the stories you have told about your work experiences. And for each, think about the beginning, the middle and the end.  What was the situation you encountered?  Paint the picture for me, was it a business challenge that was unexpected?  How did you navigate it, what did you learn and how did you help champion others in that process?  Give me important details – but not unnecessary verbosity – so I understand how many layers you peeled to figure out the root cause of the problem. Tell me how you persevered.  Show me your character, your grit, your moxie!  Then, tell me how the story ends.  People who are artful behavioral based interviewers often bring the story full circle by saying, “and then this is the impact it had on the business …”.   Be a story teller.