Amazon’s hyper-rapid growth and consistently innovative presence across a multitude of industries are signature characteristics for what is one of the very largest and most successful companies in the world.
In practice, we can attribute both these qualities – rapid growth and innovation – to the heroic efforts of Amazon’s product managers.
It is these individuals who will come up with creative solutions to customer needs and then see these initiatives through from start to finish, overseeing everyone from engineers to marketing staff and liaising with executives to take ideas from drawing board to real life and ultimately to help Amazon grow.
Whereas the best and brightest in previous generations wanted to work in investment banking or management consulting, increasingly young high fliers are drawn to product management careers, with Amazon top of the wish list for jobs besides the likes of the other big tech firms like Google, Apple, interview and Facebook.
The question, then, is how can one go from a starry-eyed hopeful to the first day on the job? What are the hurdles one must clear in between? As with other prestige firms, the recruitment process at Amazon is complex and multi-stage, with only a small fraction of applicants making it all the way through to landing an offer.
The first step to success is going to be to know what you are going up against. In this article, then, we take you through the full selection process for an Amazon product manager from start to finish.
Of course, we cannot be fully comprehensive in one small article – you will also need to do more in-depth research as you prepare. This product management interviews guide is a perfect start.
Table of Contents
It’s not an official first step, but as with any job, networking with current staff before you apply will be very helpful. Of course, this won’t be possible to do in person in all cases – you might be applying for a location far away from where you currently live – but you should at least attempt to reach out to relevant individuals on LinkedIn or similar.
This step is fairly routine – resume, cover letter, and anything else Amazon asks for. However, you should not simply dash off a half-hearted effort or re-use generic resumes and cover letters you have on file from other jobs you have applied to in the past. Instead, you should put in the time to make sure everything you are sending Amazon addresses why you exhibit the skillset required for the role and would generally be a great fit for the company.
Spending time here researching Amazon and the demands placed on their product managers will pay dividends both in improving your application and in standing you in good stead for later on in the process.
Having done your networking in the previous stage will also be of great utility, as contacts will both be able to provide you with feedback on your documents before you send them and also make sure they are paid due attention by busy HR staff and others after submission.
HR and Screening Calls
If you have submitted a good enough application to be considered, then you will receive email contact from HR. This might relatively routine, simply scheduling calls and/or meetings with team members. However, this communication might also be a little more involved with you being expected to answer questions and your responses being considered as part of the screening process. Either way, always think carefully about how you reply and try to give the best possible impression of yourself.
Most likely, the HR team will be emailing to organize initial telephone interviews with team members. These will largely be culture-fit interviews designed to screen applicants ahead of in-person interviews.
Ahead of in-person interviews, you might also be assigned an essay or similar exercise to be completed by a fixed deadline. This will not typically extend beyond a couple of pages – so the quantity of work to be provided is ostensibly low. However, you should be prepared to put in a large amount of time to make sure that the quality of your output is as high as possible.
Most applicants will be eliminated in the previous stages outlined. However, the remainder is still far from guaranteed to get offers. Rather remaining candidates are invited to a grueling in-person interview day at the relevant Amazon office.
For a product manager role, there will be as many as seven sessions all packed into one day. Each hour-long session might be led by someone from HR or a member of the team you are hoping to work for. Team members might be at the same level you are joining at or significantly more senior, and you should expect a mix in this regard throughout the day.
The Bar-Raiser Interview
One of your last interviews on the day will be with an Amazon Bar-Raiser. In many ways, this is the most important interview you will have that day – comparable to a partner interview elsewhere.
The Bar-Raiser is a specialist Amazon employee, external to the team you have applied to, whose job is effectively to act as quality control for that team’s recruitment. Amazon is committed to the idea that growing its workforce and opening up new locations should not mean any reduction in the quality of personnel or drift in the firm’s overarching ethos.
As such, the Bar-Raiser is there to check up on the hiring practices of the team as much as they are you, but the fact remains that you will have to impress the Bar-Raiser if you want to land an offer. They will tend to question you on how you fit with Amazon’s ubiquitous fourteen leadership principles, but you should be prepared for them to ask you anything.
Refreshing Your Inbox…
The final step after your interview day will simply be to wait to hear from Amazon as to whether or not you got an offer. The decision is made by the team and the Bar-Raiser together and, usually, you will hear back from them within a couple of weeks. Good luck!