How to land a job at Amazon 

Stairs at the Amazon offices
Courtesy of Amazon

Amazon is everywhere. The behemoth tech company dominates the e-commerce industry and is taking on sectors like groceries and pharmaceuticals. Amazon requires a massive and organized workforce, both inside and outside of their distribution centers.

“We’re obviously expanding globally and continue to grow in marketplaces around the world,” Sean Kelley, Amazon Worldwide Operations Talent Acquisition Director, tells CNBC Make It. “We’re in a lot of business and a lot of markets and expanding.”

Kelley oversees hiring of technical and non-technical roles across Europe and North America with the exception of “high volume” roles such as distribution center workers. He focuses on how Amazon recruits and hires a wide range of Amazonians, from electricians to c-suite executives.

Today, Amazon has over 560,000 employees worldwide and is looking to hire more at least 17,823 more full-time workers. Here’s how you can land one of these jobs.

Courtesy of Amazon

Follow the playbook

Carefully reviewing Amazon’s hiring website may be one of the simplest and most effective ways to land a job at Amazon.

According to Kelley, applying for a job at Amazon is like taking "an open-book test," and the “cheat” is to simply go over the company’s 14 leadership principles and to practice discussing how you demonstrate those values.

“The leadership principles are the playbook,” says Kelley. “It's super straightforward… All you really have to do is tell us stories that align with those principles and help us help you.”

One of the most important principles to think about is “customer obsession,” and all candidates should prepare several examples for this value, says Kelley. If candidates can demonstrate that they have a “bias for action” — meaning, calculated risk taking — this is also a good sign to Amazon hiring managers.

Courtesy of Amazon

Find a recruitment program

As a company, Amazon has often reflected major market trends: the shift towards digital sales, an emphasis on predictive algorithms and an optimization of logistics. The same can be said of Amazon and the labor market.

Amazon has developed several programs to recruit people from parts of the labor market that are currently being under-served, and if you want to land a job at Amazon, one of the smartest things that workers can do is research recruitment programs.

These initiatives include programs like university recruitment and military recruitment. They offer pathways into a wide range of Amazon careers but can also provide extra support along the way — making them a good starting place for candidates will all kinds of experience and skills.

Kelley, a 1989 graduate of the Naval Academy, leads Amazon’s veteran recruitment program and also worked with Amazon to develop a program that supports mobile career opportunities for military spouses.

In Europe, Amazon recently announced a hiring program for parents who are interested in re-entering the workforce. In Chicago, Amazon sponsored an event with historically black colleges and universities to recruit more black Amazonians.

“We’re starting to experiment with those types of programs and we’re thinking about how we can create bridges,” says Kelley. “We really are looking at the job market to see who’s not imagining themselves here and how do we do that outreach.”

If you want to land a job at Amazon, be sure to scan the company’s website to see if there is a recruitment program that is right for you. If you don't match one of these programs, don't worry — there are thousands of open positions at Amazon and lots of other ways to access them.

Give them reasons to say "yes"

In addition to laying out the exact characteristics that Amazon will be looking for via the 14 leadership principles, the company also provides a step-by-step guide for the application and interview processes.

The first step of the Amazon application process is submitting an online application, often followed by a recorded video screen, or a phone screening with a hiring manager to confirm that candidates have the basic requirements for the role.

Depending on the role, candidates will then be invited to attend three to four in-person interviews at Amazon's offices.

The process, Kelley insists, is simple and straightforward, and candidates can rest easy knowing they won’t be asked any trick questions. Instead, they'll be asked to talk about their accomplishments and to express why they would be a great fit at Amazon.

“We’re looking for ways to create opportunities for that candidate,” explains Kelley. “We’re really looking for reasons to say ‘yes,’ not to say 'no.'”

The surprising interview mistake that can kill your chances
The surprising interview mistake that can kill your chances

Ask questions

As with nearly every other interview, it is crucial that candidates prepare several questions to ask the hiring manager.

“We look for people who are relentlessly curious,” says Kelley. “People may run out of questions, that happens, but we like that little spark.”

Even if you have run out of prepared questions, Kelley says that simple questions like “That surprises me, why would it be that way?” and “Could you tell me more about that?” will go a long way in showing the hiring manager that you would fit in well at Amazon.

“We want to see someone get into the dialogue with us and just be who they are,” he says.

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