Much of Buchanan's audience consists of software engineers. While at Amazon, they won't ever field a customer call. Yet she is undeterred. "Even if you're an engineer designing cooling systems for one of our data centers, we want you to be thinking about the customer," she says. "When you protect them from downtime, you're making their days better."
Another example involves a real-life blunder during the Black Friday shopping frenzy a few years ago. Amazon meant to sell a popular videogame at cost, for $39, but accidentally sent out an errant email offering it for $29. Shoppers rushed to buy the game, and most were charged $39. What should Amazon do?
New hires debate this quandary. Some want to leave the status quo intact or offer discount coupons down the road. The room falls silent as Amazon's presenters reveal the company's actual choice: Give everyone an instant price adjustment to $29, even if it isn't clear who saw the errant email. The lesson: Amazon can stomach the financial hit; it never wants to jeopardize customer goodwill.
Partway through Buchanan's session, she tells attendees: "Turn to your neighbors, and take a couple moments to brag about your team. Talk about what you're going to be doing at Amazon, and what customers you'll be impacting."
Suddenly, a low hum spreads through the room. An instant later, it gets louder. Voices switch to a higher, almost frenzied pitch. The roar overwhelms the background salsa music that Amazon has piped in as all 117 attendees turn break time into a noisy celebration of their new jobs.
At the next break, Naveen Ravisankar mentions he has just left one of New York's biggest banks to work on payment systems at Amazon. Amit Gupta says he will be doing web development at Amazon, after having completed a similar job at one of Silicon Valley's most famous companies. "I like the Amazon pace," Gupta said. "Things move fast."
Anjaly Mehla enthusiastically explains she will develop software for Amazon's Alexa synthetic speech systems, after previously working for a smaller competitor. Asked how she feels about stepping into Amazon's unusual culture, Mehla smiles. "Amazon's values align with mine," she says.
Like this story? Like CNBC Make It on Facebook
Don't miss: These are the 25 most attractive employers in America, according to LinkedIn
And: An Amazon recruiter reveals how to get a job at the online retailer