December 1, 2020

Senior

  • Amazon is known for its thorough application process and rigorous sets of interviews.
  • One way in which it differs from other employers is that it tests potential recruits for 14 leadership principles.
  • These principles include being customer obsessed, frequently right, and high standards, among other qualities.
  • Tom Lawrance, a former senior recruiter and interviewer trainer at Amazon, shared the ‘CAR’ technique candidates should use to successfully answer these behavioral questions.

Amazon has over 1,000,000 temporary and permanent employees worldwide according to its latest earnings report and is looking to hire at least 26,821 more full-time workers. 

But while vacancies at the e-commerce giant vacancies are plenty, you still have to pass a rigorous application process for a full-time role.

One important feature of interviews is that Amazon recruiters will focus as much on traits as skills, quizzing applicants for their capacity to demonstrate Amazon’s 14 core leadership principles via behavioral interview questions. 

Business Insider spoke to Tom Lawrance, a former MBA recruiter and interviewer trainer for Amazon in Europe, on how to best answer these types of interview questions and get hired.  

Lawrance worked for the e-commerce giant for 11 years. He started his career as a senior marketing manager and then spent his last three years as a senior MBA recruiter.

He now heads up the global industry careers team at Oxford University’s Saïd Business School and coaches MBA students for roles at Amazon.

Here’s the technique Lawrance suggests candidates, and his MBA students, should use to nail Amazon’s interviews. 

Practice with the CAR format

Amazon outlines the 14 leadership principles it’s looking for in candidates on its site — so an obvious first tip is to review the hiring website. 

Recruiters will tease out whether candidates have these qualities through behavioral interview questions.

These are open-ended, with language like “Tell me about a time when you…”. The idea is to open the door for a candidate to show how, in particular situations, they demonstrated any of the 14 leadership principles.

Conventionally, candidates are often advised to use the STAR method to answer these questions.

STAR stands for Situation, Task, Action, Result, and is a method to structure your answer in a way that best demonstrates your skills or achievements in a particular scenario.

Lawrance has come up with a simple tweak, the CAR format.

The CAR technique stands for Context, Action, Results. It’s about describing the context, the actions you took, and the specific results, Lawrance said.

“It [the CAR format] is just simpler, to be honest … With the STAR format, I have seen this blurred the lines between the situation and the task,” he said. “Those are just a little bit more open to interpretation, and in my experience, if you do kind of boil it down into just simply context, then it is often easier for candidates to understand what they need to give.”

It’s a small change, and still involves describing a context where a candidate demonstrated one of the leadership principles, Lawrance said.

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