assignment on amazon company

How to Nail The Amazon Writing Assignment

How to Nail The Amazon Writing Assignment in your next interview

assignment on amazon company

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For certain positions at Amazon (usually mid to senior level, L6 and above), as part of the interview process you’ll be required to submit a writing sample. This should be roughly two pages and given to you to complete on your own so that you can do it at home. You usually have 48 hours to complete the assessment. 

This writing sample is taken seriously as part of the interview process. Amazon famously doesn’t use powerpoints, and instead relies on written memos in their meetings. When you have a new marketing or product idea to pitch, instead of having a bunch of fancy slides to present, you’ll be expected to write a 6 page, structured memo explaining your idea. In the meeting, the first few minutes are spent in silence reading the document, followed by stakeholders diving deep and asking questions about your memo. 

As you can imagine, your ability to write clearly and concisely is an important skill to have! 

assignment on amazon company

How is the Amazon Writing sample assessed? 

Almost all of the prompts for the writing sample will be a Behavioral Question based on the Amazon Leadership Principles . You’ll usually get the option to answer one of two questions, for example, “Write about a time where you had limited data but had to make an important decision,” or “Tell me about a time you had to convince a stakeholder of your viewpoint.”

The writing sample will be assessed based on the relevance of your example, the structure, your adherence to the Leadership Principles and the logic. If you’ve done the preparation of your STAR stories for Amazon, then you should already have plenty of examples to choose from. The best way to write this is to choose a very solid example and use the STAR format to have a structured story. If you’re new to STAR, you can start here.

It’s very common for an interviewer to bring up your writing sample in the actual interview and ask probing questions about it — so make sure to review your writing sample before going into the interview! Be ready to dive deep.

The curve balls

After coaching hundreds of people on the Amazon writing sample, I’ve noticed that sometimes an interviewer will throw a curveball or two. This happens either one of two ways: 

  • During the interview they bring up the example you wrote in your writing assignment, but are not happy with the example you gave. So, they ask you for another example to answer the question! (A bit stressful if you’ve only prepared that one example)
  • Usually there are two question prompts in the writing sample. They will probe into the one you answered, but then ask for an example/answer to the other question that you haven’t answered!

The solution to mitigate these curveballs is to over prepare. In case 1, you should prepare and write out one extra example for the same question prompt (for yourself), which you can use as backup in case it’s asked for. For case 2, you should definitely answer both questions in the writing prompt, even though you are only submitting one. Putting this extra effort will make you more confident in the interview and moreover give you a larger pool of quality stories to choose from.  

  • Keep the length to two or three pages - no more than that.
  • Keep in mind the Leadership Principles as you write and frame your examples from the lens of these values.
  • Revise your writing sample to be as logical and concise as possible using the STAR format.
  • Always include the reasoning behind decisions you made in the story.
  • Include numbers/data where you can.
  • If possible, have someone else review your example to get a second opinion.

Here is an example of what an Amazon writing sample looks like for a candidate who successfully received a job offer. Successful Writing Sample

assignment on amazon company

Can I use the same STAR story I used for my leadership principle stories? Or should I have a different one? 

It’s okay to reuse a story you’ve already prepared. What’s more important is how well the story is written!

Should I include headers and bold/italics? 

Yes, it’s definitely fine to add in headings and subheadings to structure the document if necessary.

What font should I use?

It doesn’t matter too much, but I’d suggest using Calibri 10. This is actually the font that Amazon uses internally, so you’ll automatically create some familiarity…and familiarity breeds trust!

How should I use numbers? 

It’s super important to add data. Be specific. Instead of saying you increased sales or marketing spend, give the number. If you have no numbers or data in your example, it’s likely a no-go.

Can I include graphs, images or tables?

This is a big no! And would usually result in a rejection. Amazon is focused on the written word, and the expectation is that you should be able to explain your points without the support of extra images.

Can I write 3 pages? 

No, definitely don’t go over the 2 page requirement. If you’re trying to squeeze in a bit more, make the font a bit smaller. :)

Can I use an example from 10 years ago? It’s old, but it’s really relevant to the question!

I don’t recommend it. As a rule of thumb, choose an example within the last 5 years. Amazon prefers examples that are fresh and relevant. 

What other tips do you have? 

The person reading your writing sample is busy and wants you to get to the point as soon as possible. Don’t make it hard for them! So, get your long version written down first and then edit. To edit, use this method: remove 1 paragraph from each page, one sentence from each paragraph, and one word from each sentence. Be strict and cut out any fat.

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How to Prepare for an Amazon Assessment in 2024 (Study Guide)

assignment on amazon company

Congratulations – you’ve made the first step to further your career by applying for a role at one of the leading retail giants in the world!

With over 700,000 employees, the opportunities (and competition) for a place at Amazon are high.

Before being offered an interview with Amazon, you’ll be given one of Amazon’s online assessments to complete. With the right practice and mindset, there is no need to stress over these assessments!

In this guide, we will help you prepare for the Amazon assessment so that you can go in confident. We will cover:

  • What the Amazon Assessment Test is
  • Answers to common Amazon assessment test questions
  • How the recruitment process works
  • How to prepare for the Amazon work simulation test
  • The most common Amazon assessment tests
  • Common mistakes to avoid.

Let’s get into it!

Table of Contents

What is the Amazon Assessment Test?

When you apply for a role at Amazon, you will likely be sent one or more Amazon online assessments as part of the recruitment process. This helps the company identify the candidates most well-suited to each role. It also aims to give everyone a fairer chance in the hiring process from day one.

The amazon assessment tests are designed to evaluate your characteristics and skills. They will be sent to you during the application process or after you have applied and usually have a time limit in which to complete them.

The two most common types of assessment are the following. Whichever role you apply for your assessment will likely include one or both.

  • Workstyle assessment
  • Work sample simulation

The work style assessments usually take 10 to 20 minutes to complete and are centered around Amazon’s leadership principles. You can expect to be asked to rank to what extent certain phrases describe you.

The work sample simulation usually takes 20 minutes to an hour and relates to the specific role you are applying for. It may ask you to make decisions based on Amazon’s leadership principles.

Find Answers to Common Amazon Assessment Questions

You will find that there are commonly used questions in the Amazon assessment tests. One of the best ways to prepare for the test is to be aware of what questions recur, and regular themes.

Practice assessments use these recurring questions and allow you to think about your answers well before taking the real test. There are various tests available on Job Test Prep, including:

  • Amazon Work Style Assessment – A personality test sent to almost all applicants
  • Amazon Work Simulation Assessment – A test that looks at your analytical skills, decision-making ability, and leadership skills.
  • Amazon Area Manager Assessment – A practice test covering a wide range of tested topics

Other Amazon Tests-Including Pathway Tests, MBA Assessments, Financial Analytics, and more.

How Does the Amazon Recruitment Process Work?

assignment on amazon company

How does the recruitment process for Amazon work as a whole? Let’s dissect it so you know exactly what to expect at every stage.

  • Application form and resume screening
  • Assessment test or tests
  • Phone Interview
  • Virtual interview or on-site assessment center

The recruitment process is fairly long, but also methodical and predictable. If you prepare yourself at each stage and align yourself with Amazon’s core values throughout the Amazon assessment process, you will boost your chances of success.

Prepare for the Amazon Work Simulation Assessment

The Amazon Work Simulation Assessment is considered one of the hardest Amazon​​ tests. The assessment is unique in the fact that it puts you in the shoes of someone who works at Amazon and asks you to resolve various scenarios that may occur.

There are various practice tests that can help you become familiar with the types of questions asked. You can expect 5 modules, which take 50 minutes to complete.

Each module will test your decision-making skills, reasoning, and alignment with Amazon’s Leadership Principles. 

Taking a couple of practice tests, and familiarizing yourself with these leadership principles, are some of the best ways to prepare for the assessment.

What is Amazon looking for?

Ok, so we have seen Amazon’s recruitment process, but what are they looking for in their candidates? Amazon calls itself ‘earth’s most customer-centric company,’ therefore whatever the role, Amazon always highly rates customer-obsessed workers. Of course, the necessary skills will vary depending on the role, but a good rule of thumb is to become very familiar with Amazon’s leadership principles. Amazon uses these principles as the underlying framework against which they evaluate every new hire.

Amazon’s Leadership Principles are:

  • Customer Obsession
  • Invent and Simplify
  • Are Right, A Lot
  • Learn and Be Curious
  • Hire and Develop the Best
  • Insist on the Highest Standards
  • Bias for Action
  • Have Backbone; Disagree and Commit
  • Deliver Results

Amazon’s Most Common Assessment Tests

Let’s take a look at Amazon’s most popular assessment tests. We will go through what to expect with each one and how best to prepare.

Amazon Work Style Assessment

Amazon’s work style assessment is Amazon’s most common assessment. It is designed to assess the personality of the candidate and judge the way that they work. Amazon uses this test to determine how well the candidate will fit in with the company’s unique workplace culture .

You can expect to see a number of pairs of statements and you will be asked to indicate the one that most represents you. Here’s an example of the kind of statements you might see.

a) I am happy to ask for help as soon as I encounter a problem. b) I am happy to ask for help once I have first attempted all ways of resolving the issue myself.

The work style test is judged entirely against Amazon’s leadership principles. Amazon looks for people that will take on and apply the principles in their work. While you should be honest when answering the questions, it can be very helpful to keep your answers aligned to these principles.

Can you prepare for the personality test? Yes, you can certainly familiarize yourself with the formats of pre-employment personality tests . This will help you feel prepared and answer in line with what employers are looking for. Learn more about pre-employment personality tests from Job Test Prep and get in-depth practice, tips, and analysis.

Take Amazon Assessment Test Now

Amazon SDE Online/Coding Assessment

The Amazon Software Development Engineering online test is the exam you will be given for technology-based and coding roles. These can be for internship positions, new graduates or experienced roles. The test usually includes a technical section on coding as well as behavioral assessments.

For the more junior roles like internships and graduates, the assessment usually includes code debugging, a coding test, a technical problem-solving test that simulates hypothetical role-specific situations, as well as a personality test. More experienced software developers will instead be asked to solve two coding questions, a coding approach questionnaire, as well as a work style personality test.

How to prepare? The best way to be fully prepared is to check out some similar practice questions, prep advice, and tips. Check out this prep guide, tips, and inside info by taking the test below to boost your chances of passing the Amazon coding and behavioral assessments. Make sure to learn Amazon’s leadership principles as these will be used to judge the behavioral tests.

Amazon Area Manager Assessment (Manager In Operations)

The assessment for area managers, also known as the Manager in Operations Virtual Job Tryout, is aimed to determine how well-suited your skills, experience, and personality would be to perform in the role. There are 5 different sections to the test which are the following:

  • Work scenarios – this section is a situational judgment test that presents you with hypothetical situations you might face in the role. You will need to indicate what you would be most likely to do in response.
  • Manage your day – this section involves prioritizing tasks based on their importance.
  • Run your area – specific to the area manager role, you will need to answer questions based on information or reports provided.
  • Tell us your story – this section is about getting to know you and your past experience and how relevant it is for the role.
  • Describe your approach – this section evaluates your personality where you are asked to indicate which statements represent you the most.

The area manager assessment takes around 45 minutes to complete. Some questions can be tricky, for example, work scenario questions may not always have one clear correct choice.

Make sure to be well versed in Amazon’s leadership principles as they will use these to grade your responses. If you would like to see how a real exam looks and do some practice questions with solutions, check out this sample test .

Amazon Maintenance Technician Test

If you are looking to work in a maintenance role, you will probably be given the Amazon maintenance test. It was developed by the Ramsay Corporation, the creator of two of the industry’s most popular mechanical skills tests .

It covers a range of technical topics such as electrical theory and control circuits, tools and equipment, power transmission, preventative maintenance, and print reading. There are 75 questions that are asked back to back so you need to be ready to work under pressure.

It is a tough test that needs highly specialized knowledge, and from when you receive the test invitation you only have 5 days to prepare. Therefore it is vital to prepare well and become totally familiar with the exam format and question types beforehand.

The best way to do this is by taking some simulation practice exams. The Amazon maintenance test PrepPack from Job Test Prep includes very realistic practice questions, exam time limits, and in-depth solutions and descriptions that can help get you ready in no time.

Amazon Control Systems Tech/Lead Test

The Amazon Control Systems Tech/Lead Test is very similar to the Maintenance Technician Test. This exam, however, has a heavier focus on electricity, electronics, and robotics. It is given to candidates applying to be systems technicians and team leads.

The test is a professional knowledge test conducted by Ramsay Corporation, the world’s top provider for technical exams. It tests the technical skills of candidates in a number of different topics listed here:

  • Schematics, Electrical Print, Logic Reading
  • Mechanical Elements
  • Process Control
  • Electrical Theory
  • Computers, PLCs, DCS
  • Power Distribution
  • Automation and Robotics

The test generally lasts around 90 minutes and you have five days to complete it after receiving the actual test invitation. The questions will be multiple choice with 4 options each. Learn more about the test here and check out the free sample questions to make sure you are ready to pass with flying colors.

Amazon Financial Analyst Excel Test

Want to become a financial analyst at Amazon? First, you must pass the Excel assessment. This assessment will be sent to you after the initial resume screening or during the interview phase. You will need to show your skills and prove your competency in different features of excel. These include:

  • Macro creation
  • Document properties

As well as the excel exam, you will also need to do some behavioral and case study interviews. These can be either virtual or in person. The case study interview involves being presented with a hypothetical, realistic workplace dilemma or task. You will need to think about and suggest a solution while explaining the thought process behind your answer.

How do you prepare for the excel exam? It is a good idea to study the features and areas of excel listed above. Make sure you are well versed in formulas and formatting as well as the layout of the program. You can also get specific practice questions and study guides for the Excel assessment for financial analysts with Job Test Prep’s PrepPack .

Amazon Hiring Simulation

This online assessment is about giving you a realistic look at the actual experience of an Amazon employee. You will be given some context into what your simulation will look like, and then be presented with emails and instant messages from your virtual team.

You will be given the information necessary to solve the problems you are given, such as charts, data or spreadsheets. Using this, along with your skills, you will need to answer questions and solve the issues that arise in the simulation.

The questions you are given will usually come with a set of different responses to choose from. You will be evaluated on your skillset and ability to multitask, prioritize and put Amazon’s leadership principles into action.

Amazon Solutions Architect & Cloud Support Associate Assessment

So this exam is for candidates applying for solution architect roles at Amazon Web Services. You will be evaluated on both specific technical skills as well as on behavioral competencies and preferences. The exam has five different sections which are the following:

  • Hiring simulation – this section of the exam includes real-life simulation scenarios in the workplace.
  • Amazon work style assessment – covered previously this is the personality test in the exam.
  • General technical knowledge – this part is to evaluate your role-specific technical skills.
  • Proficiency interest survey – here you show your proficiency in four different areas of technology.
  • Technical indicator assessment

How do the technical assessments work? The general text focuses on system design, compute, cloud migration, and cloud design and will assess your proficiency across the areas. Proficiency interest will include multiple-choice questions which are objective and situational-based questions.

While the behavioral tests are graded against Amazon’s leadership principles. The Cloud Support Associate assessment follows almost exactly the same format. The exam takes a total of 75 to 90 minutes.

Amazon MBA Online Assessment

If you are an MBA or masters level graduate applying for a full-time role, you will likely be given the Amazon MBA online assessment. This may also be applicable for some internships. The online MBA assessment is broken down into three different sections, each with different question types. These are:

  • Work simulation – this section will present you with simulation business cases that you may face when working at Amazon.
  • Work style assessment – this section of the exam is a personality test that measures how well suited your characteristics, attitude, and way of working are for the role.
  • Career experience survey – this is a questionnaire where you must give your preferences for the MBA roles available.

As always make sure you know Amazon’s leadership principles inside out as your answers will be measured against these.

Amazon Assessment Test for Warehouse

With more than 175 fulfillment centers worldwide, there are a vast variety of jobs to be found in the Amazon warehouse . If you are applying for one of these roles you will probably be asked to take an online exam called the Amazon Associate Game On Virtual Job Tryout.

This assessment is designed to evaluate how effectively you could perform in one of these roles. It also reviews how much your attitude and approach align to Amazon’s core values. The assessment is usually split into two sections which are the following:

  • Tell us your story – this part of the test asks candidates about their past personal and professional experiences. It will dig into your background, work ethic, personality, and workplace approach. It consists of 22 questions, each with multiple choice answers. You will also see statements to which you must choose how far you agree or disagree.
  • Stow Pro – if you like games, you might enjoy this part of the test. It focuses on the type of work a warehouse associate might do such as packing, sorting, and stocking. The format is three simulation games within a warehouse.

You might have to virtually pack items on shelves, place items into a shopping bag, or load up the correct packages.

Is it possible to prepare for this test? Make sure you have accurately read the job description so you know what kind of tasks you would be expected to do. Make sure you are familiar with Amazon’s leadership principles and think about how your past experience is relevant to the role.

You can find online practice tests to prepare for behavioral & personality assessments. Job Test Prep is also working on a PrepPack practice test and study guide which is coming soon.

Tips for Preparing for the Amazon Assessment

Luckily, there is plenty you can do to prepare for the Amazon Assessment. Here are some of the best ways to prepare for the test, so that you are confident on the day:

1. Research company values:

Amazon has various company values. Knowing what these are, and how to naturally weave these into your answers, is a great place to start.

Amazon is looking for people who will fit their ethos and will be assessing you to see if you are a good fit.

Company values include:

  • Customer obsession rather than competitor focus
  • Passion for invention
  • Commitment to operational excellence
  • Long-term thinking.

2. Practicing Behavioral Questions

One of the most challenging assessment questions in the Amazon hiring process are the behavioral questions.

Behavioral questions are designed to assess how candidates have handled specific situations in the past. These questions are based on the belief that past behavior is a good indicator of future behavior.

Amazon is guided by a set of leadership principles. The questions used in the test often align and reflect them. Practicing these questions in practice tests and learning their guiding Leadership Principles are great things to do in preparation.

3. Time Management

Oftentimes, the Amazon Assessments will have some component of time pressure to them. Taking practice tests is a great way to learn how to manage your time, and know when to skip over a question that is taking too long.

Common Mistakes to Avoid

There are undoubtedly some commonly made mistakes that can cost securing an interview at Amazon. Luckily, you can learn from the mistakes of others and ensure you do not repeat them!

Some Common Mistakes to Avoid include:

  • Not Reading Instructions Thoroughly: One of the most common mistakes is rushing through instructions. Take the time to read and understand each question or task before attempting to answer! Taking practice tests is a great way to know what to expect, and gauge how much time you have.
  • Poor Time Management: Amazon assessments often have time constraints.

Failing to manage your time properly during the assessments can leave you with incomplete sections or rushing answers at the end.

Practice time management with timed tests well in advance to avoid this.

  • Lack of Preparation: Some candidates underestimate the importance of preparing for Amazon assessments.

Whether it’s a behavioral interview or a technical test, being unprepared can significantly impact your performance. Read up on Amazon’s guiding principles and commonly asked questions, and take practice tests to avoid being underprepared!

  • Ignoring Amazon’s Leadership Principles: Amazon emphasizes its Leadership Principles throughout the hiring process.

Failing to align your responses with these principles during written assessments may be a missed opportunity to showcase your fit with Amazon’s culture.

Now we have covered the most popular online Amazon assessment types and you should be feeling more prepared for what awaits. Whatever your skillset and wherever your sights are set in the world of Amazon, stay calm, prepare and go get ‘em.

Related Study Guide – How to Prepare for Amazon TRMS Assessment?

1. Can you fail Amazon assessment test?

Yes, you can fail the Amazon assessment test . However, the majority of people who take the test pass it.

2. How do I crack the Amazon assessment test?

The Amazon assessment tests are difficult tests that measure your skills and abilities. To crack the test, you need to practice and prepare for it. The best way to do this is by using practice tests and studying the material thoroughly.

3. Are Amazon assessments hard?

Amazon assessments can be hard, but they are also a great opportunity to show your skills and strengths. The best way to prepare for an assessment is to practice as many questions as possible and to be familiar with the types of questions that are typically asked.

4. What is the Amazon assessment?

The Amazon assessment is a test that Amazon gives to potential employees. The test is designed to measure cognitive ability, problem-solving skills, and personality traits.

5. What if I miss Amazon online assessment?

If you miss Amazon’s online assessment, you may not be eligible for the role you are interested in. However, there may be other opportunities at Amazon that you may be interested

6. How long does an Amazon assessment take?

Each test varies in the length of time it takes to complete. Tests such as the Work Simulation tests take about 50 minutes to complete, while other tests such as the Work Style Assessment take 15 minutes to complete.

Sarah Duncan

Sarah is an accomplished educator, researcher and author in the field of testing and assessment. She has worked with various educational institutions and organisations to develop innovative evaluation methods and enhance student learning. Sarah has published numerous articles and books on assessment and learning. Her passion for promoting equity and fairness in the education system fuels her commitment to sharing insights and best practices with educators and policymakers around the world.

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assignment on amazon company

Learn about the different types of questions asked in the Amazon Assessment with this sample practice test. Good luck!

No thanks, I’m not interested!

The Amazon That Customers Don’t See

By Jodi Kantor ,  Karen Weise and Grace Ashford June 15, 2021

  • Share full article

Each year, hundreds of thousands of workers churn through a vast mechanism that hires and monitors, disciplines and fires. Amid the pandemic, the already strained system lurched.

When the coronavirus shut down New York last spring, many residents came to rely on a colossal building they had never heard of: JFK8, Amazon’s only fulfillment center in America’s largest city.

What happened inside shows how Jeff Bezos created the workplace of the future and pulled off the impossible during the pandemic — but also reveals what’s standing in the way of his promise to do better by his employees.

assignment on amazon company

By Jodi Kantor , Karen Weise and Grace Ashford

June 15, 2021

Amessé Photography; Sarah Blesener for The New York Times; Ruth Fremson/The New York Times; Chang W. Lee/The New York Times

Are you a current or former Amazon employee? Share your story.

Last September , Ann Castillo saw an email from Amazon that made no sense. Her husband had worked for the company for five years, most recently at the supersize warehouse on Staten Island that served as the retailer’s critical pipeline to New York City. Now it wanted him back on the night shift.

“We notified your manager and H.R. about your return to work on Oct. 1, 2020,” the message said.

Ms. Castillo was incredulous. While working mandatory overtime in the spring, her 42-year-old husband, Alberto, had been among the first wave of employees at the site to test positive for the coronavirus. Ravaged by fevers and infections, he suffered extensive brain damage. On tests of responsiveness, Ms. Castillo said, “his score was almost nothing.”

assignment on amazon company

For months, Ms. Castillo, a polite, get-it-done physical therapist, had been alerting the company that her husband, who had been proud to work for the retail giant, was severely ill. The responses were disjointed and confusing. Emails and calls to Amazon’s automated systems often dead-ended. The company’s benefits were generous, but she had been left panicking as disability payments mysteriously halted. She managed to speak to several human resources workers, one of whom reinstated the payments, but after that, the dialogue mostly reverted to phone trees, auto-replies and voice mail messages on her husband’s phone asking if he was coming back.

The return-to-work summons deepened her suspicion that Amazon didn’t fully register his situation. “Haven’t they kept track of what happened to him?” she said. She wanted to ask the company: “Are your workers disposable? Can you just replace them?”

Mr. Castillo’s workplace, the only Amazon fulfillment center in America’s largest city, was achieving the impossible during the pandemic. With New York’s classic industries suffering mass collapse, the warehouse, called JFK8, absorbed hotel workers, actors, bartenders and dancers, paying nearly $18 an hour. Driven by a new sense of mission to serve customers afraid to shop in person, JFK8 helped Amazon smash shipping records, reach stratospheric sales and book the equivalent of the previous three years’ profits rolled into one.

That success, speed and agility were possible because Amazon and its founder, Jeff Bezos, had pioneered new ways of mass-managing people through technology, relying on a maze of systems that minimized human contact to grow unconstrained.

But the company was faltering in ways outsiders could not see, according to a New York Times examination of JFK8 over the last year.

In contrast to its precise, sophisticated processing of packages, Amazon’s model for managing people — heavily reliant on metrics, apps and chatbots — was uneven and strained even before the coronavirus arrived, with employees often having to act as their own caseworkers, interviews and records show. Amid the pandemic, Amazon’s system burned through workers, resulted in inadvertent firings and stalled benefits, and impeded communication, casting a shadow over a business success story for the ages.

Amazon took steps unprecedented at the company to offer leniency, but then at times contradicted or ended them. Workers like Mr. Castillo at JFK8 were told to take as much unpaid time off as they needed, then hit with mandatory overtime. When Amazon offered employees flexible personal leaves, the system handling them jammed, issuing a blizzard of job-abandonment notices to workers and sending staff scrambling to save them, according to human resources and warehouse employees.

After absences initially soared and disrupted shipping, Amazon left employees mostly in the dark about the toll of the virus. The company did not tell workers at JFK8 or other warehouses the number of cases, causing them to worry whether notifications about “individuals” testing positive meant two or 22. While Amazon said publicly that it was disclosing confirmed cases to health officials, New York City records show no reported cases until November. The company and city officials dispute what happened.

Amazon continued to track every minute of most warehouse workers’ shifts, from how fast they packed merchandise to how long they paused — the kind of monitoring that spurred a failed unionization drive led by frustrated Black employees at an Alabama warehouse this spring. If productivity flagged, Amazon’s computers assumed the worker was to blame. Early in the pandemic, the online retailer paused its firing of employees for low output, but that change was not announced clearly at JFK8, so some workers still feared that moving too slowly would cost them their livelihoods.

“It is very important that area managers understand that associates are more than just numbers,” an employee wrote on JFK8’s internal feedback board last fall, adding: “We are human beings. We are not tools used to make their daily/weekly goals and rates.”

The company touted breathtaking job-creation numbers: From July to October 2020 alone, it scooped up 350,000 new workers, more than the population of St. Louis. Many recruits — hired through a computer screening, with little conversation or vetting — lasted just days or weeks.

Even before the pandemic, previously unreported data shows, Amazon lost about 3 percent of its hourly associates each week, meaning the turnover among its work force was roughly 150 percent a year. That rate, almost double that of the retail and logistics industries , has made some executives worry about running out of workers across America.

In documenting the untold story of how the pandemic exposed the power and peril of Amazon’s employment system, reporters interviewed nearly 200 current and former employees, from new hires at the JFK8 bus stop to back-office workers overseas to managers on Staten Island and in Seattle. The Times also reviewed company documents, legal filings and government records, as well as posts from warehouse feedback boards that served as a real-time ticker of worker concerns.

assignment on amazon company

JFK8 footprint

Most of Times Square could fit inside the footprint of the JFK8 fulfillment center.

Times Square

assignment on amazon company

This April, Mr. Bezos said he was proud of the company’s work culture, the “achievable” productivity goals, the pay and benefits. In interviews, the head of human resources for warehouses and the general manager of JFK8 said that the company prioritized employee welfare, noted that it had expanded its H.R. staff and cited internal surveys showing high worker satisfaction. Some managers from JFK8 and beyond described building deep relationships with their teams.

Amazon acknowledged some issues with inadvertent firings, loss of benefits, job abandonment notices and leaves, but declined to disclose how many people were affected. Kelly Nantel, a spokeswoman, suggested that those problems and some others chronicled in this article were outliers.

Ofori Agboka, the H.R. leader, noted that social distancing and masking had made it harder to engage employees in personal ways during the pandemic. Still, he said, “98 percent of everything’s going great — people are having the right experiences,” getting the help they need when they want it.

But several former executives who helped design Amazon’s systems, and still call themselves admirers of the company, said the high turnover, pressure over productivity and consequences of scaling up have become too critical to ignore. The company has not ambitiously addressed those issues, said Paul Stroup, who until recently led corporate teams devoted to understanding warehouse workers.

“Amazon can solve pretty much any problem it puts its mind behind,” he said in an interview. The human resources division, though, had nowhere near the focus, rigor and investment of Amazon’s logistical operations, where he had previously worked. “It felt like I was in a different company,” he said.

David Niekerk, a former Amazon vice president who built the warehouse human resources operations, said that some problems stemmed from ideas the company had developed when it was much smaller. Mr. Bezos did not want an entrenched work force, calling it “a march to mediocrity,” Mr. Niekerk recalled, and saw low-skilled jobs as relatively short-term. As Amazon rapidly grew, Mr. Niekerk said, its policies were harder to implement with fairness and care. “It is just a numbers game in many ways,” he said. “The culture gets lost.”

Even Mr. Bezos, in his final lap as chief executive of the company he created, is now making startling concessions about the system he invented. In a recent letter to shareholders, he said the union effort showed that “we need a better vision for how we create value for employees — a vision for their success.”

“We have always wanted to be Earth’s most customer-centric company,” he wrote. Now, he added, “we are going to be Earth’s best employer and Earth’s safest place to work.”

Amazon is also on pace to become the nation’s largest private employer within a year or two, as it continues expanding. About a million people in the United States, most of them hourly workers, now rely on the company’s wages and benefits. Many describe the job as rewarding. Adama Ndoye had supported her family on her JFK8 pay while attending college remotely. “Lights on, food, clothes, everything,” she said. Dawn George, a chef, said she was grateful to JFK8 for taking her in after hotel kitchen jobs disappeared last spring. “I’m willing to work my socks off just for an hourly income,” she said.

Some admire Amazon’s ambition. “It was like being a pitcher on a team that had a game every night,” said Dan Cavagnaro, who started at JFK8 when it opened in 2018 and worked with Mr. Castillo.

assignment on amazon company

But Mr. Cavagnaro was mistakenly fired in July while trying to return from leave, and could not reach anyone to help.

“Please note the following,” he wrote in his final, unanswered email plea. “I WISH TO REMAIN EMPLOYED WITH AMAZON.”

‘Like a Ghost Town’

In late March 2020, Traci Weishalla walked the length of JFK8, forgoing the fluorescent vest that marked her as a manager. She wanted an unfiltered look at what she would soon be helping to oversee: a warehouse the size of 15 football fields, serving America’s largest metropolis just as it was becoming the national epicenter of the pandemic.

The noise, from conveyor belts whipping around packages, was like the roar of an oncoming subway train. Built to conquer the most lucrative market in the country, the facility ran almost 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Ms. Weishalla had helped open the warehouse a year and a half earlier, and now — as homebound customers across the nation clamored for thermometers, disinfectant and puzzles — she saw opportunity and purpose in her return as assistant general manager. For an organization that dealt in logistical miracles, the coronavirus was just another obstacle to overcome, she said.

“That’s what we do,” Ms. Weishalla, 38, explained later. “We work to figure out the impossible problems.”

Overtime Notifications

Jfk8 announced workers would have mandatory extra time, or m.e.t. in march, a message in direct conflict with its policy of unlimited unpaid time off during this period..

Hello Amazonians This is a reminder that All Departments will be on MET For the week of March 22nd. More than ever our customers are relying on us. Please utilize A to Z to check your schedule. Also don’t forget to report ALL absences, so that we can make sure your time is documented correctly and there are no issues.

But Amazon’s mighty system was lurching. Semi trucks sat at warehouses around the country, without enough workers to unload them. Customers discovered that items the company had deemed nonessential might take a month to arrive — an eternity for a business that had routinely delivered within two days.

One critical reason: Warehouse laborers were not showing up.

Delays Plagued Deliveries to Customers in New York City

With the warehouses short-staffed and the company prioritizing essential items, amazon’s typically fast deliveries took longer to reach customers. in april 2020, 28% of amazon packages took more than a week to arrive..

assignment on amazon company

0–2 days

3–7 days

1–2 weeks

assignment on amazon company

To lure them back, Amazon offered a temporary $2-an-hour raise, double pay for overtime and, for the first time, unlimited unpaid time off. Executives thought that workers should be able to stay home without fear of being fired, and that with greater flexibility, some might still come in for part of a shift, according to two people familiar with the decision. (Like some other senior leaders in this article, they spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to comment.)

assignment on amazon company

Across the country, almost a third of Amazon’s 500,000 workers were staying home. Some new hires abandoned jobs before they even began, according to former recruiters. JFK8 “was like a ghost town,” recalled Arthur Turner, a worker who remained.

Even Alberto Castillo considered staying home. The numbers on the news were unfathomable: at least 20,000 New Yorkers already infected, city hospitals jammed, as many as 1.7 million deaths projected nationwide.

But this was no time to go without his income: The Castillos, immigrants from the Philippines, yearned to buy a house. He worked nights, troubleshooting and training with gentle mastery, frequent jokes and “Star Wars” references, colleagues said, and he had just applied for a promotion.

JFK8 was also giving contradictory instructions: Despite Amazon’s promise of unpaid time off, workers were alerted that every department would be on mandatory overtime.

When Mr. Castillo arrived on March 24, he heard the warehouse had its first positive case. He messaged his boss, who replied, “Yes, forgot to bring that up,” and added that everyone who worked with the employee had been notified. Mr. Castillo called his wife to discuss whether to head home. They decided he would finish out his shift.

On the dawn drive back to New Jersey, his throat began itching.

assignment on amazon company

Organized Labor

That morning, two workers drove in the opposite direction, beelined to JFK8’s break room and told dozens of colleagues: The virus had breached the warehouse, Amazon could not be trusted to tell them the truth and the facility should be shut down.

Derrick Palmer and Chris Smalls, Amazon teammates and best friends, weren’t part of any formal effort. Their employer considered unionization a dire threat, and had even backed out of building a second headquarters in New York in part over potential labor-organizing plans . A retail workers’ union had once boldly declared that JFK8 would become the first unionized Amazon warehouse in the country, but the effort had died.

Both men had been at Amazon since 2015 and knew the company from the lowest rungs. Mr. Palmer, then 31, was observant and deliberate, so fit that he often headed to the gym after a 10-hour shift. After dropping out of community college, he worked in a string of warehouses, joined Amazon and was now a “picker” at JFK8, pulling products off robotic shelves. He often produced top numbers on the software that tracked productivity, and had been selected to train others and help open a warehouse in Illinois.

He also felt let down, believing that Amazon’s towering success didn’t accrue to workers like him. Employees felt managed largely by app, algorithm and strict but poorly explained rules, he said. When he met Ms. Weishalla at a 2019 session for workers to share feedback, he said, he requested more human interaction from management and told her he aspired to a job like hers. But he saw no changes. “If we go beyond the requirements, there’s no reward,” he said in an interview.

assignment on amazon company

When Mr. Palmer last sought a promotion, in early 2020, he was among 382 people who applied for the position. Though he didn’t know it, the odds were steep by design, an outgrowth of Mr. Bezos’ management philosophies.

Amazon intentionally limited upward mobility for hourly workers, said Mr. Niekerk, the former H.R. vice president who retired in 2016 after nearly 17 years at the company. Dave Clark, then head of operations, had shot down his proposal around 2014 to create more leadership roles for hourly employees, similar to noncommissioned officers in the military, he recalled.

Instead, Mr. Clark, who is now chief executive of Amazon’s consumer business, wanted to double down on hiring “wicked smart” frontline managers straight out of college, Mr. Niekerk said. By contrast, more than 75 percent of managers in Walmart’s U.S. stores started as hourly employees. Following a pattern across Amazon, JFK8 promoted 220 people last year among its more than 5,000 employees, a rate that is less than half of Walmart’s.

Amazon’s founder didn’t want hourly workers to stick around for long, viewing “a large, disgruntled” work force as a threat, Mr. Niekerk recalled. Company data showed that most employees became less eager over time, he said, and Mr. Bezos believed that people were inherently lazy. “What he would say is that our nature as humans is to expend as little energy as possible to get what we want or need.” That conviction was embedded throughout the business, from the ease of instant ordering to the pervasive use of data to get the most out of employees.

So guaranteed wage increases stopped after three years, and Amazon provided incentives for low-skilled employees to leave. Every year, Mr. Palmer saw signs go up offering associates thousands of dollars to resign, and as he entered JFK8 each morning, he passed a classroom for free courses to train them in other fields.

Mr. Agboka, the H.R. leader, said while the company offered training and careers at Amazon to those interested, it was proud to also provide people short-term employment for the “seasons and periods of time” they need.

As the virus arrived at JFK8, Mr. Palmer worried about how Amazon would protect and communicate with workers. Notification about the warehouse’s first positive case had been uneven. A colleague working near Mr. Smalls had appeared sick, her eyes bloodshot as she struggled through her shift.

The two men saw only one solution: for JFK8 to pause, clean and reassess, as an Amazon facility in Queens had briefly done. Unpaid leave wasn’t enough, they said — a company run by the richest man on earth shouldn’t force workers to choose between safety and a paycheck.

Mr. Palmer invited dozens of workers to share concerns on an Instagram chat.

“This is why my ass been staying home,” one wrote.

“Health before wealth honestly, kiss your loved ones daily,” another replied.

“Are you guys actually just picking essential items?” one asked, referring to Amazon’s early-pandemic efforts to ship only necessary merchandise.

“Man, I’m stowing dildos,” another responded.

Nearly all the workers in the group were Black, like Mr. Palmer and Mr. Smalls, or Latino. So were more than 60 percent of associates at JFK8, according to internal Amazon records from 2019. Management, the documents show, was more than 70 percent white or Asian. Black associates at JFK8 were almost 50 percent more likely to be fired — whether for productivity, misconduct, or not showing up for work — than their white peers, the records show. (Amazon said it could not confirm the data without knowing more specifics about its source.)

Workers of Color Fuel Amazon’s Operations

A vast majority of the company’s warehouse workers in the u.s. are included in the first group in the 2018 data below. these employees are largely people of color, while higher levels of the company tend to be majority white..

assignment on amazon company

Laborers and Helpers

235,986 employees

Professionals

First/Mid-Level

Administrative Support

Technicians

Sales Workers

Executive/Senior Level

assignment on amazon company

First/ Mid-Level

Administrative

Senior Level

assignment on amazon company

Laborers and

Executive/ Senior Level

Between the constant monitoring, the assumption that many workers are slackers, and the lack of advancement opportunity, “a lot of minority workers just felt like we were being used,” Mr. Palmer said later.

“We’re the heart and soul of that building,” he wrote in the chat. “Nothing gets done without us.”

The two men continued their break-room warnings for several more days, and confronted JFK8 managers. “If, God forbid, somebody in this building passes away, or somebody’s loved one passes away, that’s going to be on your hands, not mine,” Mr. Smalls, the firecracker of the pair, told the warehouse’s top leader, according to an audio recording of one conversation.

On March 30, they demonstrated in the parking lot with a small group of other employees. Mr. Palmer carried a sign that read, “Treat your workers like your customers.”

In Seattle, executives still grappling with cratering attendance sought to minimize the protest but instead drew more attention to it. Amazon fired Mr. Smalls, saying his demonstration had violated a quarantine order based on his contact with the sick co-worker. (Mr. Palmer received a warning for violating social-distancing rules.) Meeting notes taken the next day by the company’s top lawyer and leaked to Vice News called Mr. Smalls “not smart or articulate.”

Though the lawyer soon said he didn’t know Mr. Smalls’s race, a group of Black corporate employees wrote a letter calling the smear part of “a systemic pattern of racial bias that permeates Amazon.” The New York attorney general’s office and Senator Elizabeth Warren asked if the firing was retaliation, which Amazon denied.

Mr. Palmer chose to stay at JFK8, determined to change it from the inside. Mr. Bezos, who had been holing up at his ranch in West Texas, made a rare visit to an Amazon warehouse near Dallas on April 8, flashing a thumbs-up to employees.

assignment on amazon company

Summoning Workers Back

With so many employees staying home — because of family needs, fear of contracting the coronavirus and reluctance to use public transit — the unthinkable was happening to Amazon: Its customers were turning to competitors.

By mid-April, Walmart, Target and other retailers were clearly gaining ground. To reverse the trend and serve its customers, Amazon would have to find a way to bring back workers. Any decision the company made would affect the lives of hundreds of thousands of employees.

The task of sweating out the scenarios fell to Paul Stroup, who ran data science teams in Seattle. Mr. Stroup had been a veteran of what he described as “the brain” of Amazon operations — a division of thousands of employees finding tiny efficiencies to optimize for cheaper, faster and more predictable deliveries — when, in 2019, he made an unusual switch to Human Resources. Some shocked colleagues teased that joining H.R. would be like going on sabbatical.

assignment on amazon company

But he had once been a low-wage worker himself, unloading trucks part time at a Home Depot store for $9 an hour. Home Depot had also paid half his college tuition. Soon after graduating, he moved to the corporate office.

“If I wanted to help as many people as I could, being at H.R. at Amazon, which is one of the largest employers in the world, has a huge impact,” Mr. Stroup said. He hoped to help improve life not just at Amazon, he said, but for hourly employees at companies that look to its example.

As he evaluated the return-to-work options, he felt confident that Amazon’s warehouses were growing safer, thanks to billions of dollars spent on virus safeguards.

On Staten Island, Ms. Weishalla piloted a process for spraying disinfectant between shifts that was later rolled out across the United States and Europe. Thermal temperature scanners were installed at JFK8 and other warehouses. Colored tape marking one-way paths crisscrossed the floors. Artificial intelligence engineers built a program that projected virtual six-foot circles around employees to help them keep their distance.

“We can’t wait three months,” Ms. Weishalla said. “This is priority No. 1.”

Mr. Stroup also helped data scientists and epidemiologists assemble tools to spot potential outbreaks, creating a centralized source to track cases. While a few Amazon buildings had concerning spikes, he said, the analysis showed that most, including JFK8, had infection rates at or below the known levels — testing was initially limited — in communities where their workers lived. There were no large reported outbreaks in the warehouses like those at meatpacking plants, but Covid deaths around the country were swiftly climbing.

Amazon Lost Market Share Early in the Pandemic

Competitors cut into amazon’s substantial market share in the u.s., in part because the company was showing customers long delivery times..

assignment on amazon company

competitors

assignment on amazon company

Mr. Stroup worried how Amazon would summon workers back. The company needed to know who didn’t intend to return so that it could replace them. But forcing employees too abruptly could result in firing tens of thousands of people. Mr. Stroup knew the work offered a lifeline: “The cleanliness, the procedure, the pay, the benefits — all of that is very competitive,” he said.

assignment on amazon company

He prepared surveys and data for Mr. Clark, the operations chief, who would make the final decision. “I’d heard Dave was saying: ‘Let’s just move faster. This isn’t helping people not knowing if they are coming back to work or not. We’ve created a safe place to work — we’ve proven that people aren’t getting Covid at work — so let’s just find out if they want to come back or not,’” he said.

In a virtual meeting, Mr. Stroup told Mr. Clark that if employees were brought back gradually, over a month or two, only 5 to 10 percent were projected to stay home and lose their jobs. Under the faster plan, many more were likely to be fired for not showing up. “The cold-turkey example was pretty bad,” Mr. Stroup said, “like it was 20 to 30 percent of people would be let go in the month.”

Within days, he heard Mr. Clark had chosen that route. “My team took it hard,” Mr. Stroup said. Even so, he understood Mr. Clark’s predicament. “There’s a lot of pressure when your website normally says one or two days, and now it says 28 days to get something,” he said.

Ms. Nantel, the spokeswoman, said the decision was about supporting customers and communities in a time of need while providing safe jobs for people who wanted them. Amazon declined to make available several of its most senior executives for interviews, including Mr. Clark; Beth Galetti, the head of human resources; and Mr. Bezos.

In late April, Amazon told workers that unlimited unpaid time off would not be extended into May. The company eased requirements for personal leaves; to remain home without penalty, workers had a week left to apply. That decision created chaos.

Human Resources by App

Immediately, leave applications flooded into an Amazon back office in San José, Costa Rica. The system couldn’t keep up.

Dangelo Padilla, a Costa Rican case manager who started at Amazon in 2016, woke up every morning to confront what he described as insurmountable tasks before him and his colleagues. They had already been overwhelmed by a backlog of almost 18,000 cases in early March, emails show, and over the last week in April got 13,500 more requests.

Panicked workers trying to take leaves found phone lines busy and got auto-replies warning of delayed responses. Some who applied for leaves were being penalized for missing work, triggering warning notices and then terminations. When their messages reached Mr. Padilla and his colleagues, workers were distraught.

“This is impacting the employees and impacting us,” Mr. Padilla said he entreated their managers. “You have to fix this.”

The V.O.A. Board

Workers turn to the internal voice of associates (v.o.a.) board with issues large and small, including overtime, which can be mandatory (known as m.e.t.) or voluntary (v.e.t.). employee names have been redacted for privacy reasons..

How can MET be called with no notification, no text, no email nothing. You just put it on our schedule. Once I finish my shift today ill be at 55hrs. I would only be able to work 5hrs tomorrow im not going to travel 3hrs to work 5hrs that makes no sense at all

Hey [name redacted], thank you for reaching out! Based on risk to customer orders this past weekend and limited VET acceptance for Saturday, the decision was made to call MET just for the DC7 cohort to ensure we could meet these customer commitments. The JFK8 team is generally very proactive in calling MET as to give our teams plenty of time to plan ahead, however due to increased customer orders on Prime Week and that impact on the weekend, it was necessary to call at that time. MET notification was sent out prior to lunch on Friday, which is within the allotted time to announce for those on site. A to Z was then adjusted a few hours after that. For instances such as this, our HR team is able to work with those that have extenuating circumstances. Thank you!

The team that vetted leaves had long struggled with rickety technology, according to Mr. Padilla and eight other current and former employees in Costa Rica. Right before the pandemic, they started using a new case-management system called Dali to address the problems and provide flexibility, but it was buggy. Staff members were constantly encountering problems. “We were lost,” Mr. Padilla said. “Not even our managers knew how to handle it.”

Faxes and emails that were supposed to be automatically sorted ended up in a massive inbox that had to be manually triaged. Approved leaves that were supposed to be directly reflected in worker attendance programs instead had to be input by hand at another back office, in Pune, India.

When that wasn’t done on time, warehouse employees with approved leaves got notices warning that they would be fired for abandoning their jobs. “I saw those situations every day — people getting U.P.T. deducted for no reason, people being terminated for no reasons,” Mr. Padilla said.

In interviews, more than 25 current and former Amazon employees who dealt with the disability and leave system — executives, human resources personnel from JFK8 and other warehouses, and back office staff in the United States and abroad — bemoaned its inadequacy, calling it a source of frustration and panic. For years, they said, it had been prone to the kinds of errors Mr. Padilla described. Amazon catches many of the mistakes; some employees fight their own cases and prevail. Others give up and quit.

Ms. Nantel, the spokeswoman, said that the company quickly approved personal leaves during this period, hiring 500 people to help process the increased volume. She said Amazon received more than a million leave requests in the first year of the pandemic, twice its forecast, and worked hard to contact employees before they were fired to see if they wanted to keep their jobs.

assignment on amazon company

Workers turned to H.R. teams in the warehouses for help, though they weren’t primarily responsible for leaves. Even under normal circumstances, they were stretched thin. In interviews, veterans from Staten Island and across the country described long hours trying to fix errors, enforce Amazon’s rules fairly and respond to the problems that plague any low-income work force — transportation breakdowns, lack of child care. At JFK8, some employees said they had spent an entire 30-minute break waiting in line for H.R. without getting to speak to anyone.

In the warehouses, self-service kiosks performed many traditional human resources functions. An app called A to Z handled everything from payroll to schedule changes.

Many workers said they found the app easy to use. It has a 4.7-star rating in Apple’s App Store, but even some of those who praise it see broader problems. “App is awesome, very helpful. BUT!!!!!!!!!” begins one five-star review users have designated as most helpful. “Associates should be able to speak to a person, not a virtual chat bot to get individual help. … Especially when many say they were fired because the chat reps forget sometimes or it doesn’t get through.”

The technology is designed to give workers many ways to communicate and was not meant to replace live interactions, Ms. Nantel said. She added that the H.R. staff for warehouse workers had grown by 60 percent since 2019 — a rise that parallels that of the hourly work force. At JFK8, the human resources team for the more than 5,000 employees has increased from 25 to 34 staff members since the start of the pandemic.

Mr. Padilla resigned from Amazon last summer, but returned this May, grateful to join a team that has nothing to do with managing leaves. “Being there,” he said, “basically destroyed my mental health and my stability.”

assignment on amazon company

Record Profits, Halted Raises

On Staten Island, workers began getting the dreaded warnings.

Mr. Cavagnaro, who had worked with Alberto Castillo, had taken a leave from Amazon. He suggested a June return date on a doctor’s note, but couldn’t reach the company to ask questions or discuss coming back. Amazon’s attendance systems recorded him as a no-show, and he began getting job-abandonment notices. Unable to get a reply, he threw his hands up and allowed himself to be fired.

After The Times asked Amazon about his situation, the company offered him his job back. (His case “should have been handled better,” Ms. Nantel said.)

By the time Mr. Cavagnaro was struggling in late spring to return to JFK8, Mr. Castillo had severely declined. Doctors told his wife that he would never again speak, eat or work. Unable to visit him because of virus restrictions, Ms. Castillo created a mural in their small apartment, showing the family of four celebrating church festivities, doing martial arts and wearing matching Halloween costumes. On Father’s Day, the couple’s two children stood outside the medical center where he was being treated, with posters declaring their devotion.

assignment on amazon company

Health insurance that Amazon provided covered most of the medical bills, but Ms. Castillo discovered that her husband’s short-term disability payments had stopped. “I kept sending in medical forms but couldn’t tell if anyone on the other end was actually receiving them,” she said. The house they had hoped to buy was a vanished dream; now she was counting every penny and accepting donations from friends.

JFK8’s human resources manager apologized and set the 10 weeks of missed payments right. Amazon said the documents Ms. Castillo had submitted never made it to his case manager, a systems issue that had affected others as well.

As workers returned, Amazon informed employees nationwide that it was ending the $2-an-hour raise and double overtime pay. The extra wages had not been “hazard” pay, officials said, but an incentive to show up.

It would be nice if there were more advancement opportunities for jobs inside amazon that are outside the FC. Most jobs at higher level require experience that people don't have and will not get an opportunity to get. Thanks

Hi [name redacted], thank you for your comment. We do have numerous job opportunities posted, which can be found on Jobfinder.com. [name redacted], your manager will be following up with you to discuss in more detail, help you find what you are looking for and answer any questions you may have. Update 3/4/21: Thank you for speaking with [name redacted]. Please let us know if you have any additional questions or concerns. Thank you!

The decision to force workers back ushered the company into the most profitable era in its history. By late May, JFK8 was a top-performing warehouse, bringing in 1.68 million items in a single week, Christine Hernandez, who worked in human resources, boasted on Twitter. “Yasss!!!” she cheered.

In July, Amazon announced $5.2 billion in earnings for the quarter — a record, until the next quarter brought $6.3 billion.

Amazon had been “running pretty much full out” since the beginning of May when more people were back at work, Brian Olsavsky, the company’s finance chief, explained on a call with reporters. That let the online retailer meet the enormous demand more efficiently, working at full capacity around the clock. It was like Black Friday every single day.

The Power of the Metrics

For Traci Weishalla and her peers, a key to boosting thousands of employees to that level of performance was setting the pace. Speed was essential, but so was keeping the whole warehouse in rhythm. If new items were unpacked more quickly than they could be prepared for shipping, all of JFK8 could jam. The fulfillment center was one organism in an even bigger ecosystem of warehouses, and to coordinate with them and the fleet of delivery drivers, Ms. Weishalla had to maintain a quick, consistent pulse.

Two measurements dominated most hourly employees’ shifts. Rate gauged how fast they worked, a constantly fluctuating number displayed at their station. Time off task , or T.O.T., tracked every moment they strayed from their assignment — whether trekking to the bathroom, troubleshooting broken machinery or talking to a co-worker. The company pioneered new ways to calculate both metrics in the mid-2000s, when a smaller, scrappier Amazon set out to revolutionize warehouses.

Mr. Niekerk, the former H.R. chief for operations, said the emphasis on productivity tracking, alluring in a company as analytical as Amazon, was debated from the start. He had been skeptical, arguing that “a productivity metric is always a frightening thing,” conveying “One slip-up and I will fall behind.’”

“I lost that battle,” he said. Eventually, he said, promises of firmer, faster delivery created “a multiplying effect on the demand for higher productivity.”

In newer, robotics-driven warehouses like JFK8, those metrics were at the center of Amazon’s operation. A single frontline manager could keep track of 50, 75, even 100 workers by checking a laptop. Auto-generated reports signaled when someone was struggling. A worker whose rate was too slow, or whose time off task climbed too high, risked being disciplined or fired. If a worker was off task, the system assumed the worker was to blame. Managers were told to ask workers what happened, and manually code in what they deemed legitimate excuses, like broken machinery, to override the default.

Internal documents show that managers were instructed to address only the “top offender” for time off task in each department per shift. Less than 1 percent of terminations in 2019 were over rate or time off task, according to Ms. Nantel.

But workers didn’t know that. The goal, JFK8’s internal guidelines state, “is to create an environment not where we are writing everyone up, but that associates know that we are auditing for T.O.T.” Workers could not readily see their T.O.T. totals, increasing anxiety. Word spread that Amazonians couldn’t take bathroom breaks — a misperception rooted in real apprehension. Some employees chronicled their workday down to the minute in a notebook, just in case.

It is very Important that area managers understand that associates are more than just numbers or just our logins but that we are human beings. We are not tools used to reach their daily / weekly goals and rates but that we need their support in becoming better employees.

Hi [name redacted], let's meet in person to discuss your concerns in further detail.

Mr. Agboka said time off task was intended to identify impediments a worker may face. “We don’t want people working with the mind-set of loss of employment versus being productive and being successful,” he said.

Some employees, like Arthur Turner, found the systems fair: “If you come here and do the right thing, you follow all the protocols that they want you to, you can’t get in any trouble.”

Dayana Santos, 32, who started at JFK8 in June 2019, appreciated the metrics. “How can I do my job efficiently if the next person isn’t doing theirs?” asked Ms. Santos, who sometimes raced with colleagues for fun. “Why does everything have to be a competition with you, Santos?” her boss would tease.

After months of praise from her managers, Ms. Santos had one very bad day. She had been working in robotics, but because her bus was late, she was sent to picking. She was offered a different assignment after lunch, but it never came through, and her station in picking was occupied. She traversed the warehouse looking for another one, racking up more time off task. That afternoon, she was stunned to discover that she was being fired.

Stories like that intimidate workers even before their first day, a human resources team at Amazon headquarters found. “Everyone in your community, every third person, has worked at Amazon,” Mr. Stroup said. “You have pieces of information that you’ve been told at the dinner table or with friends.”

Experiments by one of Mr. Stroup’s teams found that prodding workers did not make them productive enough to be worth the anxiety. The team joked that giving a worker $5 “probably would have a better impact than a manager going and telling you, ‘You did a bad job last week.’” Work on the issue stalled when the pandemic created more pressing priorities.

But over the summer, resistance to the policies was rising. With the extra Covid pay gone and Black Lives Matter protests spreading across the nation, a small group of Black workers at a new warehouse in Bessemer, Ala., on the outskirts of Birmingham, were bristling at how Amazon micromanaged their time. Frustrated, one of them in an online search hit upon the retail workers’ union that once had ambitions to organize JFK8.

In New York, Ms. Santos was making her own small stand. Amazon had contested her unemployment benefits, arguing that she had been fired for cause. She fought back, and an administrative court judge sided with her, noting that she had never received a warning and that Amazon hadn’t proved she was off task.

In midsummer, a message from Ms. Weishalla landed in JFK8 workers’ email inboxes and was posted inside bathroom stalls, saying that “productivity feedback” was suspended because of the pandemic. That meant no one would be fired for being too slow. Confusingly, the message, which also noted extra minutes for hand-washing, said the changes had been in effect since March.

Until the notices, many workers had no idea Amazon had relaxed one of its most controversial employment policies. Rates were still displayed at workstations, and initial instructions to managers had been marked “verbal guidance only.” Ms. Nantel said that managers were supposed to tell each worker individually, calling it a high-touch approach. The building-wide notices from Ms. Weishalla had been prompted by a lawsuit — later dismissed — challenging pandemic working conditions at JFK8. The lead plaintiff was Derrick Palmer.

Though workers couldn’t be punished for low rates, managers still encouraged speed. One late summer day, Thalia Morales, then 28, was limiting bathroom trips to improve her productivity. She finally couldn’t wait any longer — and found the nearest ladies room closed. Ms. Morales exploded in anger at a cleaner, who said she couldn’t enter. She was fired for the verbal altercation, she recalled in an interview, and told she could never reapply.

Soon, to her shock, the app pinged her for missing work. She returned to the warehouse with trepidation, completed her shift and still works there today. It turned out her termination hadn’t been processed properly — Amazon had erred in her favor.

By the end of September, word traveled around JFK8 and other warehouses: The reprieve on rate was over. The holiday season was coming, and it was expected to be like none other.

assignment on amazon company

Burning Through the Work Force

On Oct. 13, the bus stop outside JFK8 was flooded with workers hired in a surge without parallel in American corporate history. It was Prime Day, the invented Amazon shopping holiday that kicked off the Christmas season. To meet the moment, the warehouse was absorbing entire friend and family units without job interviews, and in most cases, little to no conversation between employer and applicants.

As dusk settled and trucks rolled by, Tiara Mangroo, a high school student just off her shift, embraced her boyfriend. He worked for Amazon on Staten Island too, as did her father, uncle, cousins and best friend. Keanu Bushell, a college student, worked days, and his father nights, sharing one car that made four daily trips between Brooklyn and JFK8. A mother and daughter organized containers of meals for their middle-of-the-night breaks; others packed Red Bull or Starbucks Frappuccinos in the clear theft-prevention bags that workers carried. Most said they were grateful just to be employed.

Kevin Michelus, 60, and retired after a lifetime of odd jobs, had been drawn in by a postcard advertising work. “No résumé, no job experience required,” he said. “I’ve never heard of a job like that.” He and the other newcomers had been hired after only a quick online screening. Internally, some describe the company’s automated employment process as “lights-out hiring,” with algorithms making decisions, and limited sense on Amazon’s part of whom it is bringing in.

Mr. Niekerk said Mr. Bezos drove the push to remove humans from the hiring process, saying Amazon’s need for workers would be so great, the applications had to be “a check-the-box screen.” Mr. Bezos also saw automated assessments as a consistent, unbiased way to find motivated workers, Mr. Niekerk said.

Amazon boasted about the jobs it created, calling itself a force for growth and sustenance. What the numbers masked was that many workers cycled out of Amazon within months or even days.

Amazon’s Turnover Outpaces Its Peers’

Amazon is so large, and its churn so high, it affects the industry turnover rate where it operates, according to a times analysis. in the two years after amazon opened a new facility, the county turnover rate of warehousing and storage employees rose an average of 30 percentage points compared with two years prior..

assignment on amazon company

Yearly turnover rate for warehousing and storage employees

Multnomah County, Ore.

Quarterly employment in

warehousing and storage

Cuyahoga County, Ohio

In Richmond County, N.Y., home to JFK8, the turnover rate increased to more than 100 percent in the year after the new center opened.

Average in counties with Amazon fulfillment and distribution centers

Warehouse opens

Years before Amazon warehouse

Years after Amazon warehouse

assignment on amazon company

Richmond County, N.Y., home to JFK8

assignment on amazon company

Quarterly employment by county in warehousing and storage

County, Ore.

County, Ohio

Richmond County, N.Y., home of JFK8

Average in counties with Amazon centers

Years before

Amazon warehouse

Years after

assignment on amazon company

As the weeks wore on, hints of trouble were cropping up, according to interviews and posts on JFK8’s internal feedback board viewed by The Times. Several said workers should get more warning about mandatory overtime, that schedules changed “with no call, no text, no email, nothing.” H.R. representatives were “hard to find,” “not trained,” and “not able to handle genuine complaints.” Others wondered why they had to go find an H.R. representative to fix errors in unpaid time off deducted by the A to Z app. “Look at all the technology we have now,” one employee wrote. “I’m sure this can be corrected.”

Some of the workers faltered immediately or just seemed wrong for the job. Ms. Mangroo wasn’t even supposed to be there; Amazon’s hiring policies don’t allow for high schoolers. She was fired for time off task problems, after what Amazon called repeated coaching attempts. Soon her best friend and uncle were gone too. Mr. Michelus, the retiree recruited by postcard, had a low productivity rate. Stressed, he quit 11 days after he began.

assignment on amazon company

Keanu Bushell, half of the father-son commuting tag team, didn’t trust Amazon’s systems to tally his time correctly and resigned. With limited hours on public transit, some newcomers were struggling with 2 or 3 a.m. wake-ups in far corners of the city, three-hour odysseys to the warehouse and nearly 12-hour shifts. Others were washouts — stealing merchandise, playing games on their phones for long stretches in the bathroom, abusing the leave policy.

In 2019, Amazon hired more than 770,000 hourly workers, even though the company, including corporate staff, grew by just 150,000 that year, John Phillips, the former head of mass hiring, wrote on LinkedIn. That meant the equivalent of Amazon’s entire work force — roughly 650,000 people at the start of the year — left and were replaced that year. The company declined to provide numbers for 2020.

For some, the short-term relationship worked. Stephen Ojo, a dancer in Brooklyn, joined JFK8 in the spring. “It was a good way for me to make extra money, it wasn’t clashing with my schedule, it fit with my life at the time,” he said. But he also knew that Amazon wasn’t his future. He was a star dancer in Beyoncé’s film “Black Is King,” which would stream to viewers in the summer. By then, he was done at Amazon.

Others needed the work. Days after Mr. Michelus quit, he was back at the bus stop. “I’ve got to learn to deal with the pressure,” he said. Amazon took him back, and soon he was picking items again.

I don't have any complaints today is just my final day working here. I want to say, from the bottom of my heart, thank you. It is because of Amazon that i was able to make friends, learn, grow, and pay off my college bill. I thank the incredible stow team and their leaders and everyone that made this place what it is. Thank you amazon for everything.

[name redacted] we wish you all the best and thank you for your service here at JFK8! Although it's a big team it really does feel like a family here and we will miss having you here on the team but all the best in your new endeavors! :)

With the high churn, multiple current and former Amazon executives fear there simply will not be enough workers. In the more remote towns where Amazon based its early U.S. operations, it burned through local labor pools and needed to bus people in.

“Six to seven people who apply equals one person showing up and actually doing work,” Mr. Stroup explained. If Amazon is churning through its entire work force once or twice a year, he said, “You need to have eight, nine, 10 million people apply each year.” That’s about 5 percent of the entire American work force.

Ms. Nantel responded to multiple questions about Amazon’s turnover by repeating, “Attrition is only one data point, which when used alone lacks important context.”

Many newcomers were in impractical situations, whether because of schedules or commutes. “Sometimes, it’s simply not a good fit,” said Ms. Weishalla, the JFK8 manager.

Mr. Stroup says he is forever “an Amazon fanboy.” But over time in human resources there, he became disappointed that he “didn’t hear long-term thinking” about the company’s quick cycling through workers. He likened it to using fossil fuels despite climate change.

“We keep using them,” he said, “even though we know we’re slowly cooking ourselves.”

He left Amazon too. After almost nine years at the company, he joined Shopify, another e-commerce business, where he hoped his insights might have more impact.

Billions, Bonuses, Bananas

Ann Castillo stood outside her New Jersey apartment complex in early December, about to take on the responsibility of a lifetime. She had decided to bring her husband, now on hospice care, home and tend to him herself. Even with Amazon’s long-term disability insurance, she might have to move into low-income housing.

“If he’s going to go, then at least he’s with us,” she said.

She saw no sign that anyone in charge at JFK8 knew what was going on. “They never called and asked to follow up on how he’s doing,” she said.

A moment later, a procession of emergency vehicles flooded the small parking lot, lights flashing in salute. The drivers, town officials who were strangers to Ms. Castillo, told her to call day or night. When the ambulance arrived, it took all of the visitors to maneuver Alberto Castillo into the apartment.

Ms. Castillo’s own employer , a nonprofit home health care provider, overwhelmed her with support, arranging twice as many hospice nurse visits as usual, donating the extra nursing time and giving money from an emergency fund. Nearly everyone else in their lives, and even some strangers, had pitched in too, Ms. Castillo said: teachers, fellow parents, soccer teammates and coaches, church members, and old friends from the Philippines sent groceries, meals, gift cards and checks.

Months later, after inquiries from The Times, an H.R. official and a JFK8 staff member reached out to Ms. Castillo. A spokeswoman expressed regret that Ms. Castillo did not feel properly supported. Mr. Agboka, the H.R. leader, said in a statement, “We have her, her husband, and their loved ones in our thoughts and prayers.”

Inside the warehouse, Ms. Weishalla, who had been promoted to general manager, tracked nearly every conceivable metric about JFK8’s demand, attendance and inventory. But she said she did not keep tabs on how many workers were infected. “It’s not a daily thing I track — it’s hard to quantify that,” she said in an interview. “No one is sending me a number.”

(Ms. Nantel said Ms. Weishalla had access to cases via an online portal and was well informed of JFK8’s case count.)

The holiday-season sprint known as Peak arrived just as a second wave of the virus slammed into the region. The true measure of infection among JFK8 workers was hard to know. Amazon was providing free on-site testing by October. But it did not share with the general work force the names of those infected, for privacy reasons, or offer guidance on where or what shifts they worked.

As a result, many employees learned about positive cases informally, setting the rumor mill running. When Derrick Palmer realized the company never sent a notification about a colleague who told him she was sick, he confronted managers, who could not explain why. (Ms. Nantel said it was an error, adding that the warehouse has since found only one other missing notification.) To him, that lapse, along with the lack of clarity about Covid numbers, underscored his belief since March that Amazon was not being transparent about the virus threat.

For months, Amazon had said publicly that it was reporting confirmed cases at JFK8 and other warehouses to local health authorities, as required of employers. But New York City health department records show no reports until November.

Ms. Nantel said that Amazon had regularly reported cases since March 2020, and attributed the lack of records to the city health department’s being overwhelmed early in the pandemic. A spokesman for the agency, Patrick Gallahue, acknowledged that its reporting system was not set up until July, but said there was no reason that cases reported later would not be documented.

According to city data and records disclosed by Amazon in a lawsuit, the warehouse had at least 700 confirmed cases between March 2020 and March 2021. Given the limited testing in the New York metropolitan area last spring, that may well be an undercount.

As Christmas approached, JFK8 was setting an Amazon record for volume. “Huge congrats to the team hitting over 1 Million units in 24 hours kicking off Peak 2020!” Ms. Weishalla cheered on LinkedIn. The workers “achieved the unachievable,” echoed another manager. Soon Ms. Weishalla was promoted again, supervising multiple warehouses in the Midwest.

JFK8 was just a small part of Amazon’s success. From October through December, Amazon brought in $125.6 billion in sales. In the pandemic year of 2020, it spent $44 billion leasing airplanes, constructing data centers, and opening new warehouses — and still produced more than $21 billion in profit. Globally, it spent $2.5 billion on the extra pandemic pay in spring and seasonal bonuses ; for the holidays, warehouse employees got $300, $150 for part-timers.

Amazon Is Building Warehouses Faster Than Ever

assignment on amazon company

Includes fulfillment and distribution centers that are under construction or planned to open

assignment on amazon company

Includes fulfillment and distribution centers planned and under construction

In Facebook groups, warehouse workers across the country shared photos of the messages their managers sent to motivate and reward them. Some won air fryers or Fire TV Sticks. In Connecticut, a manager messaged employees at their workstations that if they handled 400 items an hour, or about one every 10 seconds, “you WIN CANDY.” At another, a sign went up during the holidays: “Today’s Snack: A Banana *Available 9 a.m. until 7 p.m.*” In Ohio, workers got scratch-off cards to win prizes.

One employee scratched off two with the same message: “Please try again.”

assignment on amazon company

Looking for Signs of Change

A few weeks into the new year, Derrick Palmer took a 16-hour road trip with Mr. Smalls to Bessemer to witness the most serious push workers had ever made to challenge their status at Amazon. The employees galvanizing Amazon’s first-ever unionization vote framed their treatment as an issue of racial justice. Above all, they objected to the time off task system and other productivity monitoring, and called their campaign a quest for respect in the workplace.

Amazon waged a ground war, warning — through posted signs, texts and mandatory meetings — that union negotiations could risk the good jobs and benefits workers already had. In the end, the election was not even close: The retail union lost by more than 2 to 1 .

assignment on amazon company

Back on Staten Island, Mr. Palmer and Mr. Smalls embarked on a new mission anyway. As legal fights continued over whether JFK8 was safe during the virus and how Amazon handled the March 2020 protests, they began collecting hundreds of workers’ signatures in a quest to unionize JFK8. Amazon pulled out its Bessemer playbook and fought back, posting discouraging signs in bathrooms and at the building’s entrance. Mr. Palmer, still packing boxes as the company countered his efforts, felt the pressure on him grow.

But at the same time, the Alabama rout was leading to an unexpected moment of recognition by the company. The complaints heard in Bessemer were echoed by workers at multiple warehouses across the country. A new, labor-friendly president was in the White House. The virus had magnified fundamental questions about Amazon’s relationship with its employees, and the reopening economy presented workers with other options — a potential problem for a business whose growth ambitions are larger than ever.

In the final months of Jeff Bezos’ tenure as chief executive, his high-turnover model looked riskier, and the concerns about how Amazon treated the workers who powered its rise were tarnishing his legacy. During the pandemic, Mr. Bezos’ personal wealth exploded from $110 billion to more than $190 billion. He had also been building a $500 million superyacht , according to the new book “ Amazon Unbound ,” and preparing for his first spaceflight after investing billions in his rocket company, Blue Origin.

Mr. Bezos’ commitment in April to become “Earth’s best employer” raised questions — about what exactly that meant, and how far he and his successors would go.

Amazon soon rolled out more raises. Starting wages at JFK8 went up 50 cents, to $18.25. The company announced safety initiatives and diversity plans , including a goal to “retain employees at statistically similar rates across all demographics” — an implicit admission that the numbers had been uneven across races. Ms. Weishalla’s successors on Staten Island were holding weekly “talent review” meetings to ensure that Black and Latino workers, among others, were finding advancement opportunities.

In an interview, Mr. Agboka, the head of warehouse human resources, acknowledged that the company had relied too heavily on technology to manage workers. “We’re recognizing that in many times, where we thought self-service was good, self-service was not the only — can’t be the only — solution,” he said. “Every experience matters. And when the experiences aren’t right, we’ve got to find a way to fix it.”

But it wasn’t clear how much the company was willing to reconsider the sacrosanct systems of productivity, automation and high turnover that propelled it to dominance. “Are they going to address the issue of an expendable work force?” asked Mr. Cavagnaro, the fired worker who was returning to JFK8. “Are there going to be any changes?”

After repeated inquiries from The Times about the time off task policy and Dayana Santos, the JFK8 worker who challenged her termination, Amazon this month announced an immediate change: No longer could someone be fired for one bad day. All those who had been were now eligible for rehiring. The company said it had been reconsidering the policy for months.

In Seattle, Paul Stroup, whose teams studied Amazon’s hourly work force, watched the recent events and read Mr. Bezos’ letter. He felt caught between skepticism and hope that the company would finally deploy what he considered its best qualities — a penchant for fresh, open-minded thinking and tackling ambiguous, hard problems — in service of its workers.

“It would be an amazing thing for hourly employment across industries,” he wrote in a note on LinkedIn. “Jeff’s comment makes me think things could change, but it may be too late to reverse the damage it has done.”

“Now,” he said, “let’s see if they can innovate their way out of this.”

assignment on amazon company

Are You a Current or Former Amazon Employee? We’d Like to Hear From You.

We’d like to deepen our knowledge of Amazon’s employment system. If you have firsthand experience or knowledge relating to the themes of this story, please share your experiences below. Your responses will help shape our follow-up reporting on the subject. Please be as specific as possible, and include as many details as you can.

We won’t publish your name or any part of your submission without contacting you first. If you prefer to share tips or thoughts confidentially, you can do so here .

Methodology for turnover analysis

The Times analysis of employee turnover shows the rate at which employees leave a company over a yearly period, using data through the first quarter of 2020. The analysis was based on warehousing and storage labor data in counties with newly-opened Amazon fulfillment and distribution centers from the U.S. Census Bureau’s Quarterly Workforce Indicators. The annual turnover rate was calculated by county for each quarter by dividing the number of total separations over a four-quarter period by the average employment over a four-quarter period using that quarter and the previous three quarters. The analysis averaged four quarters of data to account for seasonal employment. The average turnover rate across the 83 counties where data was available was weighted by the total number of warehouse and storage workers employed in each county during that quarter. This methodology is based on research by Irene Tung and Deborah Berkowitz for the National Employment Law Project.

Alexander Villegas contributed reporting. Susan C. Beachy contributed research. Photo editing by Beth Flynn . Graphics by Scott Reinhard . Produced by Rumsey Taylor .

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Amazon.com, Inc.: a case study analysis

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This paper is a case study analysis of Amazon.com, Inc. (Amazon). In this paper, I look at the business strategy of Amazon. Special attention is given to five parts, including a historical overview, organizational structure, business operations, financial performance, and the future outlook of Amazon. The historical overview chronologically describes landmark events of Amazons beginnings to their current position today. The companies departmental structure is categorized and briefly commented on in section two. An analysis is provided for Amazons operations with a breakdown of major products and services offered. A comprehensive financial analysis of Amazon follows (section four) with matching insight that links performance to events and business strategies. The future outlook of Amazon is discussed last, offering a topical overview of where Amazons business interest is shifting.

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The purpose of this paper is to provide a case study on Amazon itself as a company; its CEO, corporate headquarters, ranking on the Fortune 500 and its financial and sales performance over the past fiscal year. This paper also seeks to provide and analysis of Amazon’s Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats (SWOT) as it relates to sustainability and CSR performance. And lastly, I will offer my opinion of Amazon’s overall level of performance as it relates to social responsibility.

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Global exposure is one of the key qualifying signs of maturity in the online platform. Amazon.com has become a behemoth in the online industry with selling every little thing on the planet through their website and other services. However, there have been verticals of businesses that Amazon has been testing from time to time and innovating diverse business models to embark on the sustainable competitive advantage. This paper emphasizes on Amazon's global expansion strategies vibrant ecosystem of global trade. Paper reveals how Amazon's business sets a classic example in this dynamic online environment catering to web services, fulfillment and warehousing centers logistical hurdles, prime subscriptions and many more.

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Amazon Assessments

  • 218 questions

The Amazon assessment test is a series of challenges Amazon uses to evaluate applicants in its recruitment process. Typically it will include a numerical and verbal reasoning test, a Work Style Assessment, a Work Sample Simulation, and the Amazon Versant Test.

Careers at Amazon

For those interested in a career at Amazon opportunities are vast, both in terms of job function and location.

The company is made up of several business areas, further divided into teams. You may choose to work in artificial intelligence or data services as part of Amazon Alexa, machine learning or UX design for the Marketplace team, or fulfilment and robotics within the Amazon operations technology department, to name just a few.

There’s also plenty of opportunity across specialisms including legal, finance, HR, marketing, logistics, IT, software development and customer service. Amazon also operates a number of subsidiaries in which job openings exist, including Audible, Amazon Fresh and IMDb.

Every team under the Amazon umbrella shares a commitment to excellence and a customer-centric approach. These values underpin the company’s culture and are a primary focus of the Amazon recruitment process.

Amazon Application Process

Online application, aptitude tests, work style assessment, work sample simulation, telephone interview, face-to-face interview, assessment centre.

Amazon’s unique company culture is based on a set of 14 ‘Leadership Principles’. These principles form the basis of every decision and every project undertaken.

They also make up the characteristics of the ideal Amazon employee. As such, you’ll be assessed against them throughout the Amazon recruitment process.

Amazon’s Leadership Principles are:

1) Customer Obsession

2) Ownership

3) Invent and Simplify

4) Are Right, A Lot

5) Learn and Be Curious

6) Hire and Develop the Best

7) Insist on the Highest Standards

8) Think Big

9) Bias for Action

10) Frugality

11) Earn Trust

12) Dive Deep

13) Have Backbone; Disagree and Commit

14) Deliver Results

While some of these principles are self explanatory, others are a little more complex in their nature. For example, bias for action, in Amazon terms, means it’s better to take calculated risks than be overly cautious with your decision making.

You’ll need to show these principles in action throughout your application, be it through past behaviour or as part of your Amazon assessment tests, so be sure you fully grasp the meaning of each before you start the recruitment process.

amazon online assessment

Online application form

To apply for an open position, you’ll need to set up an amazon.jobs account, create a profile with some basic information, upload your CV and, depending on the role, answer some relevant screening questions.

If you’re applying for a creative role and have existing work examples or an online portfolio, Amazon recommends you include links to these within your CV.

If your application is successful you may be required to take one or more Amazon online assessment.

Amazon Aptitude Tests

Amazon numerical reasoning tests.

As part of the screening process, it’s likely you’ll be asked to complete a series of online assessments. These may be sent to you as part of your initial application, or at a later date.

The numerical reasoning test is designed to measure your confidence and ability concerning statistical information, and since Amazon is a data-driven company, these tests are a standard requirement for most roles.

You’ll be presented with a series of tables, charts and graphs, and will need to evaluate the data present to draw logical conclusions. All questions will have multiple-choice answers and will require only basic calculations, like working with percentages or conversions .

Though the processes aren’t overly complex, these tests are timed, so you’ll need to put in plenty of practice to develop both speed and accuracy. Try our free practice tests to get prepared for the numerical reasoning test.

Amazon verbal reasoning test

You may also be invited to sit a verbal reasoning test as part of your Amazon application. These measure your critical thinking skills , and your ability to interpret written information.

You’ll need to determine if a set of statements can be classified as true or false, based on a passage of supporting evidence. In some cases, there may be insufficient information within the text, in which case your answer would be ‘cannot say’.

Again, these tests are timed and require you to work quickly with precision, so practice is vital. Why not try a verbal reasoning test with our free practice tests?

Amazon Work Style Assessment

The Amazon Work Style Assessment is a type of personality test, which evaluates your professional preferences to determine how they fit with Amazon’s corporate culture. Typically it takes between 10 and 20 minutes to complete, and presents a sets of statements that represent different working styles.

For example, “I enjoy working as an individual in a solitary environment” or “I prefer to work collaboratively in a team setting”. For each set, you’ll need to state your preferred working style.

It’s important to refer back to the Leadership Principles throughout this assessment. Remember, these outline the type of employee Amazon looks for and will be the benchmark against which your working preferences are measured.

Amazon Work Sample Simulation

For the Amazon Work Sample Simulation, you’ll be given a virtual task to complete that is relevant to your future role. This could be anything from handling a customer query to evaluating financial information, or developing a solution to a hypothetical problem.

These tests measure skills required in the given job function, such as interpersonal skills, multi-tasking, prioritisation and effective problem solving. Whatever your personal task involves, keep the Leadership Principles in mind and use them to guide your actions.

Depending on the nature of the task, your Work Sample Simulation will take up to an hour to complete.

Prepare yourself for leading employers

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Amazon software development engineer online assessment

This assessment is a combination of coding and behavioural tests and is used for software development engineer positions.

For internship and graduate positions, the assessment consists of code debugging, coding test, the Work Style assessment, and technical problem-solving assessment.

If you are applying for a more senior software development engineer position, the assessment will include two coding questions, a coding approach questionnaire, and the Work Style assessment.

Amazon maintenance technician test

The Amazon maintenance technician test is an adaptation of the Ramsay Mechanical Test and is administered to applicants for maintenance jobs. This is used to assess an applicant’s aptitude for mechanical maintenance and is similar to a mechanical reasoning test .

The test is based on topics from the Ramsay Mechanical Test such as:

  • Tool Knowledge

Area Manager Job Tryout

An Amazon Area Manager online assessment takes around 45 minutes to complete, and is divided into 5 sections:

Work scenario: Like a situational judgement test , you will be presented with hypothetical workplace scenarios and will be required to identify the best way to respond.

Manage your day: Used to assess your time management and organisation skills, you will need to arrange tasks according to their urgency and priority.

Run your area: You will receive a report similar to those you can expect on the job. You will need to analyse the data, answer questions, and make decisions based on the report.

Tell us your story: Here you will need to give some background information on your experience and education.

Describe your approach: A type of personality test where you will need to state how much you identify with the statements.

Financial analyst excel test

An Amazon Excel assessment test is required for candidates applying for a financial analyst post. This is used to measure an applicant’s proficiency using Microsoft Excel.

Topics that typically appear on the test include:

  • Macro creation
  • Advanced properties
  • Advanced formula creation.

Amazon MBA assessment

The Amazon MBA assessment is administered to MBA and master's level applicants for full-time and internship positions.

The assessment is split up into three parts:

  • Work sample simulation: you will be given a virtual task that will be relevant to your future role
  • Work style assessment: evaluates your professional preferences to determine your fit with Amazon's culture
  • Career experience survey: a questionnaire where you will provide your preferences for current MBA roles

Amazon Versant Test

The Amazon Versant test evaluates your ability to grasp and communicate in the English language. The test assesses several facets of language ability and is split up into five sections:

Typing: You will be given a passage of text and will need to type as many words as possible in 60 seconds. This section assesses both your speed and accuracy when typing.

Complete the sentence: You will have 25 seconds to read a sentence and identify the word that makes the sentence make sense and grammatically correct.

Dictation: A series of sentences will be played, and you will have 25 seconds to type out what you have just heard. Again, speed and accuracy are important here.

Reconstruct the paragraph: You will be given 30 seconds to read a paragraph. After that, the paragraph will be deleted, and you will have 90 seconds to type it back in.

Email writing: Within just 100 words, you will need to construct an email that covers all key points outlined to you.

Telephone interview

Telephone interviews at Amazon consist of behavioural questions, with their basis rooted in its Leadership Principles. You’ll be asked about challenges you’ve faced in the past, and the approach you took to overcome them.

Questions in the phone interview typically focus on areas like team motivation, collaboration, problem-solving and risk. A key thing the hiring team looks for at this stage is data-based evidence, so be sure to include supporting information in your answers.

Face-to-face interview

If you’re successful in your Amazon online tests, the next step in the application process is an in-person Amazon interview, which will last between 45 minutes to an hour.

Depending on the position, you can expect to meet anywhere between two and seven interview personnel, including representatives of your prospective team, managers, and what Amazon refers to as ‘Bar Raisers’. These are individuals from an unrelated department there to give an objective opinion on your suitability.

As with your telephone interview, in this interview stage questions will be behavioural, so prepare several possible examples in advance.

Assessment centre

Every Amazon business team operates its specific recruitment process, and some may require you to attend an in-person assessment day .

The activities you’ll undertake here vary greatly depending on the job function, but role play exercises and group activities are common. You may also be required to take a written assessment or a job-specific test, such as a coding exercise. You’ll be informed in advance of the nature of your assessment day.

Amazon endeavours to respond to applicants as quickly as possible, and states a turnaround of five working days post-interview, so whatever the final stage of your application, you can expect to know the results within a week.

Practice Aptitude Tests is not associated with Amazon. We provide preparation services for Amazon psychometric tests. Our tests are not designed to be identical to any style, employer or industry. Visit https://www.amazon.jobs/en to find out more.

Sample Amazon Assessment Tests question Test your knowledge!

An ancient language transcription software is being developed to convert historical scripts into modern text. Initially, the software has a success rate of 76% accuracy. If the accuracy improves by 3% each month, what will be the accuracy after three months?

The sales figures for the first three quarters of a financial year are as follows: Q1: $24 million, Q2: $30 million, Q3: $48 million. If the sales grow at the same rate in Q4 as they did from Q2 to Q3, what will be the sales figure for Q4?

  • $66 million
  • $72 million
  • $60 million
  • $78 million

A scenario in an e-commerce environment: Upon launching a new product category, customer inquiries increased by 35% over one month. To maintain customer satisfaction, how should service teams adapt?

  • Increase service hours to manage higher volume.
  • Automate responses to frequently asked questions.
  • Ignore repeat inquiries to focus on unique issues.
  • Reduce the range of products offered in the new category.

In terms of sequence identification and problem-solving, consider this pattern of actions: a customer clicks on a product, views its details, adds it to the cart, and then continues shopping. What is the most likely next action in this pattern?

  • The customer checks out the product.
  • The customer logs out of the account.
  • The customer views another product.
  • The customer leaves a review.

A customer service tool uses a spring-loaded mechanism to return to a neutral position after use. What type of mechanical reasoning is most relevant to improving the efficiency of this tool's operation?

  • Understanding fluid dynamics for lubrication.
  • Recognizing the impact of gravity on the tool's resting state.
  • Optimizing the strength of the spring for desired tension.
  • Adjusting electrical input for automated operations.

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Amazon Assessment Tests Tips

1 understand the amazon mindset.

Getting a job at Amazon means aligning with their leadership principles. If you’re preparing for their assessments, understanding the decision-making, innovation, and customer-oriented culture of Amazon is crucial. Reflect on how each question might relate to these principles and showcase your critical thinking in a way that aligns with Amazon’s values.

2 Simulate Test Conditions

Preparation is key, and one of the best ways to prepare is by simulating the actual test conditions. Use Practice Aptitude Tests to familiarize yourself with the types of questions you’ll face. Practice in a quiet environment, with a strict time limit to build your ability to perform under pressure, just like you will in the actual test.

3 Analyze Job Descriptions

Amazon job descriptions often hold clues about the tests you’ll encounter. Pay attention to the skills emphasized in the job listing. Your assessments are likely to reflect these. The more you understand about what Amazon is looking for in a particular role, the better you can tailor your test preparation—and Practice Aptitude Tests can help you focus on these areas.

4 Sharpen Data Interpretation Skills

Amazon is data-driven, so expect their tests to measure how well you interpret and manipulate data. On Practice Aptitude Tests, tackle as many data interpretation questions as possible. Being comfortable with graphs, charts, and basic calculations will stand you in good stead for the numerical reasoning assessments.

5 Reflect and Improve

After practicing each test, take the time to reflect on your performance. What types of questions did you find challenging? Where did you excel? Use the detailed explanations provided by Practice Aptitude Tests to understand your mistakes and learn from them. Continuous reflection and improvement are attributes that Amazon values and can help enhance your performance.

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Amazon Assessment Tests FAQs

What does the amazon assessment consist of.

Amazon assessments often include a combination of online assessments, such as coding tests (for technical roles), work simulations, and situational judgement tests . These are followed by several rounds of in-person or virtual interviews, typically incorporating behavioral and situational questions.

Is it hard to pass an Amazon assessment?

The difficulty of the Amazon assessment is subjective and largely depends on your preparation and the role for which you’re applying. Some candidates find the assessments challenging due to the high standard Amazon sets for its employees. However, with proper preparation, understanding of the role, and alignment with Amazon’s leadership principles, you can improve your chances of passing.

What is a passing score for Amazon assessment?

Amazon does not publicly disclose the exact passing scores for its assessments. However, the assessments are designed to evaluate a candidate’s fit with the role and Amazon’s culture. Your performance is evaluated in the context of the specific job role, your alignment with Amazon’s leadership principles, and your overall suitability for the position. Often scoring within the top 25% of candidates should provide you with a relatively strong chance.

Does everyone get given an Amazon assessment?

Not every applicant to Amazon will receive an assessment. Depending on the role and location, you may be asked to complete an online assessment after your application is reviewed. Amazon uses these assessments to further evaluate a candidate’s suitability for a specific role.

What is Amazon E-Verify?

E-Verify is a web-based system that allows enrolled employers to confirm the eligibility of their employees to work in the United States. Amazon is one of many companies that use E-Verify to check work authorization of new hires.

Reviews of our Amazon tests

What our customers say about our Amazon tests

May 17, 2023

Test was good

The test was but I wasn't prepared so I felt it is difficult solving the problems. The questions were good and really felt they represent the Amazon assessment.

May 10, 2023

The test was very fun to do as it is not just basic maths - you also needs you to analyze the problem and graphs.

April 15, 2023

Useful for the real test

it was nice to experience the questions which are useful for real Amazon scenarios.

Deepanshu Kapse

February 05, 2023

topic covers

Its pretty good for me because i get to know more about the test pattern and how this test has been conducted

December 19, 2022

I will come back to this because I did not expect this and just replied by chance to prepare better next time

Md Khaja Rahemathulla

July 22, 2022

There are many mathematical questions asked in the test, I liked the tricky way of these questions, and learned something from here, thank you.

Cliff Daniels

United States of America

July 20, 2022

First attempt - good experience

The timed test was a bit difficult. I need to pace myself better. I took up too much time on the first questions. I suspect this will get better with more practice as this was my first try.

Monika Boral

June 17, 2022

Perfect for practice test

It is really helpful if you are skilled in graph reading, percentage calculation, and data preparation - you are going to get it easily.

Ricky Ghosh

June 04, 2022

The test was based on current financial marketing

Liked those questions. Gave me a peek about what's to come. So that I shall be prepared for the test.

Ethel Santisima

Philippines

May 30, 2022

I find it interesting

It was well written and I can say that the one taking a test would think so hard to get the right answer.

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Amazon Recruitment Process

This article will give you information about the company, its recruitment process, sample questions that have been asked previously, lots of experiences shared by other aspirants, and the portal where you can apply.

Amazon-Recruitment-process

Table of Content

About Company:

Recruitment process:, written round:, online coding round:, telephonic round:, technical round 1:, technical round 2:, hiring manager round:, interview experiences:.

Amazon is an American electronic commerce and cloud computing company based in Seattle, Washington that Jeff Bezos founded on July 5, 1994. The tech giant is the largest Internet retailer in the world as measured by revenue and market capitalization, and second largest after Alibaba Group in terms of total sales. The Amazon website started as an online bookstore and later diversified to sell video downloads/streaming, audiobook downloads/streaming, software, video games, electronics, food, toys, and jewelry. The company also produces consumer electronics—Kindle e-readers and Echo — and is the world’s largest provider of cloud infrastructure services (IaaS and PaaS). Amazon also sells certain low-end products under its in-house brand AmazonBasics. In 2015, Amazon surpassed Walmart as the most valuable retailer in the United States by market capitalization. Amazon is the fourth most valuable public company in the world (behind only Apple, Alphabet, and Microsoft), the largest Internet company by revenue in the world, and after Walmart, the second largest employer in the United States.

Amazon conducts 5-6 rounds to select freshers as SDE (SDE-1) in their organization. The following rounds are conducted:

  • Written Round
  • Online Coding Round
  • Multiple Technical Rounds
  • Hiring Manager Round

The Written round mainly consists of two sections namely the Aptitude / Logical Test and the technical test. The technical test contains questions from C, C++, Operating System, Data Structure, inheritance, and functions. Generally in MCQ format with a given time frame of about 30 minutes.

This round is hosted online and the candidates are presented with 3-4 coding questions, the questions are of intermediate difficulty, mainly from Arrays, strings, and matrices. To clear this round, one should have a strong understanding of these data structures.

This round is purely algorithmic, with around 2-4 questions ranging from arrays, trees, and dynamic programming problems. You are to present an algorithm and in some questions, the code if necessary. Apt candidates are selected for further rounds.

Technical rounds are face-to-face algorithmic rounds in which candidates are presented with 2-4 questions, all from data structures. The most commonly asked DSs are the matrix, binary tree, BST, and Linked list.

Same as the previous round, however, the difficulty is increased and more questions from Trees, BST, and Tries are asked. One should have a clear knowledge of tree-based recursion, and the standard questions based on it are a must.

This is generally the most technical-intensive round, with questions ranging from the projects you have done, the technology used in them, design problems and DS/Algo problems, and tricky puzzle-like questions.

You can expect HR questions like :

  • Tell me about Yourself, your family
  • How do you see yourself five years from now?
  • What are your strengths and weaknesses?
  • Some technical questions can also be asked from topics like OOPs.

It is always beneficial if you know what it is to be there at that moment. So, to give you an advantage, we provide you with the Interview Experiences of candidates who have been in your situation earlier. Make the most of it.

  • Amazon Interview Experiences

Questions asked in Amazon:

  • Kadane’s Algorithm
  • Angle b/w hour and minute hand
  • Inversion of array
  • Parenthesis Checker

Where to apply?

  • Amazon Careers

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Amazon is 30. Here's how a book store gobbled up all of e-commerce

Andrew Mambo

Alina Selyukh 2016

Alina Selyukh

Amazon founder Jeff Bezos speaks at an event unveiling the Kindle 2.0 in 2009. Bezos founded the company in his Bellevue, Wash. garage 30 years ago on July 5, 1995.

Amazon founder Jeff Bezos speaks at an event unveiling the Kindle 2.0 in 2009. Bezos founded the company in his Bellevue, Wash. garage 30 years ago on July 5, 1995. Mario Tama/Getty Images/Getty Images North America hide caption

[Editor’s note: Amazon is among NPR's financial supporters and pays to distribute NPR content.]

30 years ago today, Jeff Bezos founded an online bookstore in his garage.

What Bezos eventually named Amazon is now one of the largest companies on earth — one of a few to be worth $2 trillion.

Alina Selyukh covers the company on NPR’s Business Desk. She talked with NPR’s Andrew Mambo about how Amazon gobbled up much of the internet to become “the everything store.”

This interview has been lightly edited for length and clarity.

Interview highlights

Andrew Mambo: So let's talk about the man who started it all, Jeff Bezos. What was he up to back in 1994?

Alina Selyukh: Bezos was an investment banker on Wall Street, and he really wanted to get in on the dot-com boom. Picture a guy with wispy hair, wearing khakis, driving a Honda. He was a very frugal guy, but he was very intense and focused. His other idea for the company name was actually relentless.com – if you type in relentless.com, that still sends you to Amazon.com.

Bezos wanted to build the everything store, and he did it.

Mambo: It's worth reminding people — Amazon got its start selling only books.

Selyukh: Yes. He started with books because they were relatively cheap, they don't spoil … pretty sturdy to ship. And there are just millions of them, so you could sell very many titles.

Mambo: So how did this go from a bookseller to a global e-commerce giant?

Selyukh: Well, Amazon bought a lot of other companies: software, robotics, grocery stores. It got a leg up on sales tax for a long time — as an online seller, Amazon didn’t collect sales tax for much of the country for about two decades. Also, Amazon pumped all its money back into Amazon. It famously delivered many unprofitable years without getting pressure from investors.

And then Amazon made transformative products — think like, the Kindle eBook reader, the smart speaker. It made pretty transformative business decisions like opening its marketplace to small businesses … now, these small businesses actually sell the majority of stuff you find on Amazon.

And Amazon put a laser focus on two-day and then same-day shipping, and then started charging shoppers a membership fee to access. Now, enough subscribers pay for Amazon Prime to populate the eighth-largest country on Earth.

Mambo: In recent years, we've also seen a lot of coverage about the tough working conditions at Amazon warehouses. What's the human cost of building a company like Amazon?

Selyukh: Amazon is now the second-largest private employer in the U.S., right behind Walmart. That's 1.5 million people making this company run. And most of them are folks in warehouses and the shipping hubs, packing and delivering your stuff, often for minimum wage or just above minimum wage. It is hard, physical work.

This has led to kind of a new chapter in Amazon's story, the union push. Amazon is fighting union campaigns really aggressively. So far, one warehouse has actually unionized in New York, but Amazon still refuses to recognize the union and it's been two years.

Mambo: So where is Amazon today? Now that they're a major player in so many different industries, what comes next?

Selyukh: Amazon is in its 30s. Its knees are creaking a little, and it's feeling a little bloated! It actually did grow a bit too much during the pandemic and is now scaling back some of its warehousing footprint.

I think there's one big tech challenge for Amazon, which is to catch up on the AI race. But really big-picture, Amazon does face a federal anti-monopoly lawsuit, which could — though very much in theory — try to break up the company. The suit accuses Amazon of suffocating rivals, of actually raising costs for both sellers and shoppers over time. But that case will take years.

You have some sellers pushing back on Amazon's fees and restrictions. You have some workers pushing back on speed and conditions.

But Amazon's key defense through it all has long been that customers trust the brand, love the brand. So it will be interesting to see how Amazon is able to keep that trust. Is it able to stave off the fake reviews, fake products, rising prices, frustrations with search, and stay ahead of competition?

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Working at Amazon

What unites Amazon employees across teams and geographies is that we’re all striving to delight our customers and make their lives easier.

The scope and scale of our mission drives us to seek diverse perspectives, be resourceful, and navigate through ambiguity. Inventing and delivering things that were never thought possible isn’t easy, but we embrace this challenge every day.

By working together on behalf of our customers, we’re building the future one innovative product, service, and idea at a time. Are you ready to embrace the challenge? Come build the future with us.

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Diverse and inclusive teams positively impact our products and services, helping us better serve customers, selling partners, employees, and communities from all backgrounds.

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Amazon employees use our Leadership Principles every day, whether we’re discussing new projects, deciding the best solutions for our customers, or interviewing candidates.

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Our application and interview process differs from role to role. Learn more about our peculiar interview ways, what to expect, and how to prepare.

Search open jobs

Find the right job for you, whether it’s in our corporate offices, tech hubs, or in our fulfillment and delivery network.

We offer a range of benefits that support you and your eligible family members, including domestic partners and their children—starting with healthcare from day one.

The health and safety of our employees is our top priority. We’re committed to continually evaluating and improving processes to reduce risk of injury. This includes redesigning workstations and adding technologies, such as robotics, to relieve strain on employees.

Diversity, equity, and inclusion

Diverse and inclusive teams have a positive impact on our products and services, and help us better serve customers, employees, and members of the community.

Learn new skills

Amazon is investing $1.2 billion to train 300,000 US employees with new skills so they can access in-demand, higher-paying jobs at Amazon or elsewhere.

Commitment to sustainability

We’re making big, bold commitments in sustainability because it’s a win all around. It’s good for business, the planet, our customers, and our communities.

In the community

We leverage our scale for good and use our ability to innovate quickly to strengthen communities around the world where our employees live and work.

Supporting small businesses

We invest in the success of entrepreneurs, artisans, and small businesses selling in our Amazon Store. When they thrive, our customers benefit from their products.

Start your business

Learn more about entrepreneurial opportunities with Amazon, from selling your products on our store to launching your own transportation company.

Amazon Unplugged

Amazon Unplugged is a video podcast showcasing Amazon leaders’ career journeys. Join the conversation, gain actionable advice, and explore the unique perspectives of Amazon leaders.

A to Z of Amazon Operations

Discover how technology meets human effort in Amazon’s order process, the impact of innovation in sustainability, and the diverse talent shaping our culture.

Unlock the Secret to a Successful Career

Discover Amazon Pay’s future in India and Emerging Markets, hear how to balance personal and professional life, get a peek into our hiring process, and explore the synergy between leadership and cricket.

Leading Global Teams and Paving a Path for Women Leaders

Luli Chaluleu reflects on her 11-year tenure from Recruiter to Vice President. She emphasizes work-life balance and talks about the significance of a career mentor.

Amazon News

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LinkedIn recognizes Amazon as a top workplace in the US

Amazon is a top company where people want to work for the seventh year in a row.

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Four awesome health benefits employees can start using their first day

Amazon offers health care starting on day one of employment, along with mental health, advanced cancer care, and 24/7 access to medical advice.

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I’ve spent 16 years working inside Amazon fulfillment centers. Here are some of the ways we support our employees.

Jane Tschanen is the director of US employee experience for Amazon fulfillment centers, dedicated to enhancing employee satisfaction and well-being.

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HBR On Strategy podcast series

Should Your Business Sell on Amazon?

How to weigh the costs and benefits of selling on the e-commerce platform.

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It’s a dilemma facing more and more brands: Should your business sell on Amazon?

It’s the most visited e-commerce platform in the U.S. and the dominant retailer in 28 other countries. But that reach comes at a price. Harvard Business School associate professor Ayelet Israeli says there are downsides for many Amazon sellers, like costs, competition, and the lack of data.

In this episode, Israeli offers a scorecard that can help you decide, step by step, whether or not the Amazon marketplace is right for your business.

Key episode topics include: strategy, innovation, leadership, scaling, Jeff Bezos, long-term thinking, customer focus.

HBR On Strategy curates the best case studies and conversations with the world’s top business and management experts, to help you unlock new ways of doing business. New episodes every week.

  • Listen to the full HBR IdeaCast episode: Why Companies Decide to Sell on Amazon—or Not (2022)
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HANNAH BATES: Welcome to HBR On Strategy , case studies and conversations with the world’s top business and management experts — hand-selected to help you unlock new ways of doing business.

It’s a dilemma facing more and more brands: should you sell on Amazon? It’s the most visited e-commerce platform in the U.S. and the dominant retailer in 28 other countries.

But that reach comes at a price. Harvard Business School associate professor Ayelet Israeli says there are downsides for many sellers – like costs, competition, and the lack of data.

In this episode, Israeli offers a “scorecard” that can help you decide, step by step, whether or not the Amazon marketplace is right for your business.

This episode originally aired on HBR IdeaCast in August 2022. Here it is.

CURT NICKISCH: Welcome to the HBR IdeaCast from Harvard Business Review. I’m Curt Nickisch.

It’s a dilemma facing more and more brands nowadays. Should you sell your goods on Amazon? At first glance, the answer has to be yes, right? Amazon is the most visited e-commerce platform in the United States. Two-thirds of U.S. customers start their product search on Amazon. Plus, it’s the dominant retailer in 28 other countries. And it grew so big thanks to its fulfillment speed and quality of the buying experience. How can you say no to that that kind of reach?

Turns out, there are a lot of reasons. There’s costs. There’s more competition, even from Amazon itself. And then there’s the data and feedback from customers you give up by not selling directly. What is a brand to do? Our guest today is here to help businesses that are struggling with that decision.

Ayelet Israeli is an associate professor at Harvard Business School. Together with her HBS colleagues Leonard Schlesinger and Matt Higgins, as well as consultant Sabir Semerkant, she wrote the HBR article “Should Your Company Sell on Amazon?”

Ayelet, how are you? Thanks for coming on the show.

AYELET ISRAELI: I’m great. Thank you so much for having me.

CURT NICKISCH: Now, you write in your article that, “Every brand should consider selling on Amazon.” Why?

AYELET ISRAELI: In the decade or so that I’ve been researching retail, everyone mentions Amazon at some point. In the earlier days, companies basically had a yes or no, very clear cut strategy. And nowadays, we hear more about what is your Amazon strategy rather than should you be on Amazon or not.

Amazon is just so huge. I think the latest estimates I’ve seen is that roughly 40% of all online retail in the U.S. is on Amazon. So, it’s quite large. And then we’ve seen in recent years also the increase in e-commerce in general and how important it is for brands to have their own online presence so that customers can find them, which makes Amazon an important consideration because you need to be somewhere online, you need to serve your customers. And Amazon does such a great job in both having customers arrive to the website, as well as giving them amazing service. So, therefore every brand should, at the very least, consider if they can be on Amazon or not.

CURT NICKISCH: This whole debate reminds me a lot of debates in the past of big box retailers like Walmart in the United States. Like if you were a consumer goods product, you basically had to be there, right? But those very same companies really complained about just how much the margins got squeezed. They really lamented how hard they had to keep driving costs down and not enjoying bigger profits because Walmart made them do it.

AYELET ISRAELI: Yeah, and it’s a very similar story, the only difference is just the online presence. So, Walmart is of course, still a huge retailer in the U.S., but their online presence out of total U.S. e-commerce sales, Walmart is roughly 5% to 6%. So, they’re much smaller than Amazon when you think about online presence.

But they are still a big player and brands still have the struggles where they essentially understand that in order to be where customers are looking for you, in the U.S., about two thirds of product searches start on Amazon rather than on search engines. So, that means most customers don’t even go to Google or Bing or a search engine where they’re looking for something, they just directly go to Amazon. And therefore, if you are not there and if you’re not a brand that people definitely want to buy, then you probably are not going to be found by the majority of customers.

CURT NICKISCH: But this also comes at a big risk too, right? What are some of the top line complaints about Amazon, if people used to complain about margins getting squeezed at Walmart?

AYELET ISRAELI: Yeah. So, definitely margins getting squeezed is one of the big ones, especially these days when Amazon is doing a lot more in terms of advertising. I think last year, their revenues from advertising were roughly $31 billion and they’re increasing those revenues. They have a very large media platform. They can use not just the retail part of Amazon, but also Amazon Video or Amazon Music and other channels for their advertising. And so, not only you get squeezed on margins in the same traditional way like Walmart used to do it, but you also have additional costs in terms of advertising. You want to be featured in the website in a prominent place, you want to be able to be the first brand in the buy box where consumers see you as the default brand. And for all of these things, you essentially have to give up some of your margins.

CURT NICKISCH: Now, your article has a really thorough scorecard that you can follow. If you’re a brand, you can answer questions and score whether you should be selling on Amazon or not. So, let’s go through the key benefits of selling on Amazon and some of the considerations there.

AYELET ISRAELI: One of the things that we consider other than margin, which we just talked about is the product category. Of course, there are some categories that you simply cannot sell online.

CURT NICKISCH: Pretty simple answer if you’re selling tobacco, right? Yeah.

AYELET ISRAELI: Yeah, exactly. There are also categories that have suffered from what we call commoditization. Essentially, being on Amazon turned them, even if they weren’t considered by consumers as commodities before, turned them into complete commodities. Because you can see so many brands and even unknown brands and sellers sell a version of this product. They’re all side by side. They kind of look the same. There is no big differentiator. And then you’re basically price shopping and considering that everything is kind of the same, which turns every product into almost a commodity and not a brand. And therefore, if you’re in a very commoditized market, it’s hard to stand out on a platform like Amazon’s.

CURT NICKISCH: Are batteries an example of this? Because you search AA, sort of a standard battery in the United States there on Amazon and you get name brands, but you get a lot of competitors you wouldn’t even know about. And you also have Amazon Basics brand competing side by side.

AYELET ISRAELI: Yes. So, Amazon has quite a few private label brands. One of them is called Amazon Basics that you just mentioned, and batteries is a category where Amazon Basics did phenomenally well and was able to get consumers to buy their batteries. Their batteries are as good as others and consumers just bought into it. Just a couple of weeks ago, Amazon announced that they’re going to reconsider their private label strategy. So, that might change over time. But one thing that is exciting for me as someone that researchers retail and especially online retail is how things constantly change. And it’s the same with Amazon.

CURT NICKISCH: Now, you’ve got to be looking at what you’re shipping, right? Because Amazon has, for many people, really incredible shipping service and there are millions of Prime members. So, people who can order something and have the promise of getting it delivered for free with that membership within a couple of days. But if you’re selling stuff that’s hard to ship, or if it’s oddly sized or needs customization, that becomes more of a problem.

AYELET ISRAELI: Yeah, and that’s going to cost you a lot more. Now, of course, if you’ve never developed a strategy to ship your product and you only worked through distributors, then perhaps Amazon solution could work for you if you have sold online and another platform.

CURT NICKISCH: And why? Just because you’re used to paying somebody to ship it for you essentially?

AYELET ISRAELI: Yes.

CURT NICKISCH: Okay.

AYELET ISRAELI: Yes. So, there are differences. For example, if you’re selling ice cream or something that requires refrigeration, you typically work with distribution that has trucks that are freezers and things like that. And converting that into selling online is a little bit harder because now it’s not just a huge truck going to a physical store or going from and to a warehouse, but rather you need to ship to individual consumers, you need to have individual solutions from them. Maybe they can’t pick it up right away when you deliver it, so you need some kind of freezer. So, all of these are additional costs that might be much more expensive than shipping through an established traditional distribution system.

CURT NICKISCH: Yeah, because part of what makes Amazon so cost effective is that they standardize a lot of that.

AYELET ISRAELI: Right. So, if you have a product that can be completely standard and use the standard boxes, standard shipping, you’ll have a much easier time than with complex products. In a similar manner, products that are highly personalized, you want to match for every individual consumer are going to be tougher on Amazon because they are, like you said, they just work with more standard products with things that can fit mass market. You just choose one, and that’s it.

CURT NICKISCH: This brand question is interesting, right? Because you have to know whether… I don’t know, it feels like you have to know how differentiated your product is and how strong your brand is before you sell on Amazon, because you have the risk of, if it’s not strong enough or it doesn’t stand apart enough, you can really dilute your brand.

AYELET ISRAELI: Absolutely. There is this interesting conundrum here where if I’m a big enough brand and that I have enough customers that like me and will go to my website anyway, then I don’t need to be on Amazon because my customers will find me and buy my product. At the same time, I’m a strong enough brand that can actually survive on Amazon. So, I can do both things, right?

We have examples of very well known brands that have done well even being on Amazon. For example, Apple. We have other brands like Nike that have piloted selling on Amazon and just decided to quit the platform after a couple of years and instead develop and double down on their own direct-to-consumer channels and not use Amazon.

AYELET ISRAELI: And so, part of the question can be, how many customers would actually prefer my brand over other brands, or maybe an Amazon basic brand, like we talked about earlier with batteries? Maybe there are some consumers that really believe in Duracell or Energizer, and that’s what they’re going to buy regardless of the price, regardless of the offerings. But a lot of other consumers are just going to say, “Batteries are just batteries. It has the Amazon name, it’s probably good enough, and that’s what I’m going to use.” So, you need to figure out where you stand as a brand and whether you can actually stay strong on Amazon or be completely diluted.

CURT NICKISCH: Anytime you join a new platform, you have to be concerned or pay attention to reviews, right? How many stars you have. And if you haven’t sold on Amazon before and if your products don’t have listings or reviews yet, what do you need to think through?

AYELET ISRAELI: Yeah. You need to figure out how do I get reviews, right?

CURT NICKISCH: Yeah. It’s interesting, Amazon is also very careful that people don’t juice their reviews and they have a lot of restrictions about how you gather reviews.

AYELET ISRAELI: Yeah. So recently, they actually had major crackdown of fake reviews and also Facebook groups that pay people for reviews and things like that. You’re definitely not allowed to pay for your reviews and you cannot offer a free product for your reviews. Although I think all of us as customers have seen brands do that? Really the question is then, how do I get reviews? Because reviews are so powerful. And there are a few solutions for that.

One of them actually Amazon itself provide. If you have very few reviews, Amazon has a program called Amazon Vine, where they send free product to their most trusted reviewers in order to review those new products and help you start on the platform. There are also third-party companies that contact your people or your customers after they bought the product and ask for a review. The idea is to ensure that the person actually bought the product and not give them anything in exchange for the review.

Another phenomena I have seen is brands playing a little bit with the price. So, lowering the price so that people would pick their product based on low price. And then people then would write reviews. And after they have enough reviews, they would actually increase the price and be able to thrive on the platform.

CURT NICKISCH:  I mean, I bought something on Amazon recently and I noticed that for this item that was being sold, underneath it, it says, “Brand:” and it was the name of the company. And you can click on that theoretically to see products of the other company, other products from the same company. But it actually went to another company that was making a different product, but a company that had the same name or the same part of the name. So, it was listed incorrectly.

AYELET ISRAELI: Right.

CURT NICKISCH: Really messy, right?

AYELET ISRAELI: Yeah.

CURT NICKISCH: For that brand. And I did wonder, are they doing this themselves? Are actually managing this and paying attention to this, or are these third-party sellers who’ve just bought these products and are reselling them on Amazon? What’s happening here?

AYELET ISRAELI: Yeah. So, we see, the technical term is just a mess of how when brands first start out on Amazon, especially if they weren’t there before, because there are all these savvy sellers that are able to find their product for a lower price, maybe a store went out of business and sells it to them or something like that, and then they go and sell it online under a bunch of different names. You’ll find for one specific product, like 10 different versions.

CURT NICKISCH: Right. Right.

AYELET ISRAELI: All of them look like it’s the same brand, but you have no idea what to do with this. But people kind of buy. Now when a brand then sees that, it means that you have to deal with this mess, but it means that there is also at least some demand for your brand on the platform.

And what we’ve seen is when brand actually try to clean this up by either selling directly on Amazon or opening their own storefront on Amazon, they’re able to clean up the offerings. Essentially create an Amazon store, which is a place where there is some information about the brand, but also all of the brand’s product are displayed in a manner that tells the story of the brand, makes it very clear to the customers what they’re buying.

CURT NICKISCH: Yeah, especially for something like, I don’t know, shoes or things that have a lot of different sizes. Like you may, in a search, find the wrong one, but then you kind of land in the store and you’re in that universe looking around to find the right one that you’re looking for.

AYELET ISRAELI: Yeah, and we’ve seen this even with candy that has many different flavors or something like that. So, it could be anything. But what we see that happens is that these sellers that I mentioned earlier, the opportunistic sellers, once they see that the brand took ownership, they kind of back down and they then move to a different opportunistic opportunity in terms of something else to sell on the platform.

CURT NICKISCH: Let’s talk about something that is just a key, key consideration and one of the big reasons that many companies decide to not sell through Amazon, and that’s data. In the modern age, as a business, you collect customer data and you get a lot of insights about how customers use things by seeing who buys it and how they use it and what reviews they do and what other applications there are. All of this data is extremely valuable to you as a maker of goods. Here, Amazon is the one that’s really collecting that data and isn’t necessarily collecting and sharing it with you the way that you might like. So, what is practically the amount of data that you get from Amazon from when you’re selling there and is this something you can negotiate with them? What are the big data considerations?

AYELET ISRAELI: Yeah. In some ways, selling to Amazon is like selling to any retailer where if this is your distribution channel, you’re selling to them for a price. You know how many orders came in, you know when you need to replenish, but any other information would require additional services from Amazon. You of course can see the public reviews on the website. You’ll definitely hear from them if there were any issues, but everything else is kind of, you don’t know.

If you are a traditional brand that never sold directly to customers, you never knew this information. So, if I sold whatever, a CPG product to Walmart and Target and all these offline stores, I also didn’t know anything. I knew what time of the month I have to come and give them products. I knew if there were returns, I knew if there were issues, but I never knew the identity of single customers.

On the other hand, we have brands, especially digitally native brands, but not only that always had direct relationship with the customers. Some of them are brands like Gap that always operated their own stores and sold direct and had kind of a loyalty program, a Gap card, you learned about your customers. Some of them are these brand new DTC brands that see the customer engage on their website, leaves reviews. They see when they add to cart. When they leave, they can nudge them, they can talk to them-

CURT NICKISCH: Give them newsletter, send them coupons. Yeah, all that stuff, right?

AYELET ISRAELI: Exactly. And all of these kind of loyalty type programs are what we think about as kind of relational marketing or everything is a relationship and not just a transactional thing. Whereas, if you’ve never done direct distribution, then Amazon is just the same as you knew before.

So part of the question is really, what do you care about as a brand? And it might not matter to you. But we’ve seen in recent years, how important data is. And some of the trends that we’ve seen in retailers in the last few years as they develop their retail media network and advertising is also selling aggregate levels of data to give you some insights about customers in general.

Some pieces of data that Amazon provides to brands is actually not about their customers, but rather on performance on the website. So, which competitors come up when people search for your brand, how frequently you are in the top searches, what people search for. Things like that, that are meant to help you better manage the platform, but less information about customers.

CURT NICKISCH: Yeah. It strikes me that you almost have to have like SEO and a sales and marketing team that is really focused on the platform. Like you can’t just-

AYELET ISRAELI: Yeah, not almost.

CURT NICKISCH: Yeah.

AYELET ISRAELI: Definitely.

CURT NICKISCH: Yeah, right, yeah.

AYELET ISRAELI: There’s a whole Amazon SEO category where you have to figure out. Because essentially, it is like a search engine just for product. And like we said earlier, a lot of consumers start their search there. So, you need to be able to do that and you need to be able to appear as much as possible for searches.

CURT NICKISCH: That’s interesting. I heard recently from somebody in private equity and they were looking at a company that was selling on Amazon and they realized when they were looking carefully at how they were selling there, that they were missing a big opportunity. And that was one of the reasons that they went ahead and purchased this private company because they thought they could do a better job of selling than that private company was doing. I guess I’m surprised a little bit that Amazon doesn’t provide more data as a service.

AYELET ISRAELI: They might be selling these services, I don’t know.

CURT NICKISCH: Yeah, or maybe doing more so in the future, yeah.

AYELET ISRAELI: Yeah. But what we’ve seen companies for which the relational element is important for do is try to still incite customers to go to their website, sign up for their newsletter, or things like that, that would still close the loop and connect the customer directly with the brand.

CURT NICKISCH: You can still put a card in the package.

AYELET ISRAELI: You can still put a card in the package. Warranties is something of the past I think, but maybe that works for some people. Maybe you tell them they can get exclusive offerings if they visit your website, or maybe you can do something with packaging and just entice people to go.

Another strategy we’ve seen is brands actually having only a subset of their assortment on Amazon. And then if I really enjoy the product and I want to buy a similar one, I might then search a little bit more and find the website with another assortment that I can buy from. So, we’ve seen a few strategies of how to try to get people to still go to your website and essentially use Amazon more as a discovery platform where they discover your brand. But then for the actual relationship, we want them to go to our website.

CURT NICKISCH: What company did that or what companies have you seen just put a loan product or just a selection of products for sale on Amazon, but then the full offering is where they are handling the relationship and managing the lifetime customer value?

AYELET ISRAELI: Yeah. So, one brand we’ve seen that did this pretty well is called Magic Spoon. They sell cereal.

CURT NICKISCH: Quick disclosure here. One of your co-authors on the article is an investor in Magic Spoon. Cereal seems like it could be a commoditized thing. You put that up for sale and you put something with a similar box next to it and you’re in trouble, right?

AYELET ISRAELI: Right. So, Magic Spoon has a high-protein cereal and they’re one of these DTC brands that developed a unique look and packaging and something cute like that. They started out just selling on their website, DTC. They essentially sold full size boxes of cereal there.

When they first started on Amazon, what they did is they created a single serve version and they only sold those on Amazon, which is really what I just was talking about, about you discover the product on Amazon, you just get a taste. Think about sampling in a Costco or a Walmart in the physical world. And then when you actually want to buy it, if you want to buy the full size, you would have to go through their website. I think now they also sell full sizes on Amazon, but what they do on their website is they have special flavors, new products, more of an innovative lab of new cereal that they’re offering so that consumers will still want to go to their website and not just buy them on Amazon.

CURT NICKISCH: I’m curious, you’ve developed this scorecard and you’ve worked with companies that are thinking about selling on Amazon or not and you know, answer a lot of these questions. Is there a pattern to the type of companies that do want to sell on Amazon versus those that don’t? Does the size of your company really matter? I’m just curious how you see some of this breaking down or is it really just a case-by-case basis?

AYELET ISRAELI: I think it’s really a case-by-case basis. And I think the answer is going to be completely different based on how well the company has been doing in terms of its brand and differentiation as we’ve discussed, how its current distribution model works, how well do they actually enforce brand and control their distribution. Of course, how much margin they have. And all of this is completely individual for each and every single company. So, it’s actually hard to say or to recognize clear patterns.

One thing we’ve seen is that very high-end luxury companies tend to stay away from Amazon and develop their own sites. Part of it is because of the commoditization issue, which are complete opposite from what you want in a luxury experience. And part of it is also to double down on what luxury means. The same place where you buy your toilet paper and your Tide detergent or whatever you’re subscribe and save, is probably not the same place that you want to buy a new Rolex, right?

CURT NICKISCH: Right, right. Yeah, exactly. I can see that. What’s the biggest misconception about selling on Amazon that you want to clear up for companies?

AYELET ISRAELI: I think that people are often so obsessed with the fact that Amazon, there are nearly three billion visits a month on the platform. So much traffic on the platform. So many users you can potentially get and people think about that, but a very important element of Amazon from inception has been how customer obsessed they are and how they build a platform to cater to customers, to have the best service, the best experience. And that’s why people kind of stay there. So, it’s not just about the competition or about the number of users, but also this is where they want to be. And every company wants to be where the customers are. And at the end of the day, you meet your customers where they are. You can’t convince them to buy somewhere else if they don’t want to. So, it’s almost like you need that reach, but it’s not just about traffic, it’s more than that. It’s the other services that Amazon provides to consumers, which make us love it as consumers, but worry about it as brands.

CURT NICKISCH: Ayelet, this has been really, really fascinating and helpful I’m sure to many listeners out there. Thanks for talking through this with us.

AYELET ISRAELI: Thank you so much for having me.

HANNAH BATES: That was Harvard Business School associate professor Ayelet Israeli in conversation with Curt Nickisch on HBR IdeaCast .

We’ll be back next Wednesday with another hand-picked conversation about business strategy from Harvard Business Review. If you found this episode helpful, share it with your friends and colleagues, and follow our show on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or wherever you get your podcasts. While you’re there, be sure to leave us a review.

And when you’re ready for more podcasts, articles, case studies, books, and videos with the world’s top business and management experts, find it all at HBR.org.

This episode was produced by Mary Dooe, Anne Saini, and me, Hannah Bates. Ian Fox is our editor. And special thanks to Maureen Hoch, Nicole Smith, Erica Truxler, Ramsey Khabbaz, Anne Bartholomew, and you – our listener. See you next week.

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  • Amazon Writing Exercise

Amazon Writing Exercise: What to Expect & How to Ace It

The majority of Amazon's high-level employment interviews include a writing exercise, which is a mandatory screening step that evaluates several specific abilities.

In this article, you'll learn:

  • What Is the Amazon writing exercise?
  • Requirements for Length and Time Limits

Common Mistakes That Can Ruin Your Writing Sample

  • Tips for Creating a Perfect Writing Sample

Let's get started.

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What Is the Amazon Writing Exercise?

The Amazon writing exercise is a written task you will need to complete prior to your job interview.It is meant to assess your ability to communicate effectively in writing and how well you handle difficult situations.

When Do You Receive the Writing Exercise?

The written exercise usually comes after the initial phone screen and the on-site interviews. However, depending on the position you are interviewing for, you may be given the task during your on-site interviews.

What Job Levels and Specific Positions Require It?

Positions at both levels 5 and 6 will require you to complete a writing assignment at some point during the interview process. However, there are a few exceptions. For instance, entry-level customer service positions to join the customer support team may not require it.

For some levels at Amazon (often mid to senior level, L6 and above), you'll be asked to submit writing samples as part of the interview process. Depending on Amazon’s employee job description, some positions have a higher chance of requiring an amazon writing sample, as many positions require frequent email communication.

Ensure your success at every stage of the Amazon hiring process. Prepare thoroughly for the writing exercise and all other Amazon assessments to stand out as a top candidate.

Boost your  chances!

Length and Time Limit Requirements

No more than two or three pages is required in this interview phase to answer the two written interview questions. As you write, keep in mind the Leadership Principles, and Amazon’s company culture, and structure your examples in light of these principles. Use the STAR format to edit your Amazon writing sample to make it as logical and concise as possible.

You will have 48hrs to complete the writing assignment, depending on the criteria and instructions. If you finish early, take a few moments to review your work and make any necessary edits.

What Topics Will You be Asked to Write About?

The first question in the written exercise revolves around the type of innovation you have already contributed. You'll be asked to describe the most innovative or creative thing you've ever done eg a product idea you’ve championed.

Pick one innovation that was your idea and speak on that; it might be a new product idea, a process modification, a new metric, or a creative customer interface. Something new that made improvements to your work is enough; you don't necessarily need to have a patent or anything as complicated.

Remember not to divulge any confident and proprietary information about your current or previous employer. Give the reviewers all the information they need to understand your idea.

Answer questions about the issues you tried to resolve, the measures you employed, the outcome, if it was a crucial issue, and the impact of fixing this issue on a bigger scale.

A great majority of decisions we make involve careful deliberation, but some can't be thought about scientifically because there simply isn't enough time or data. In business cases, no matter how big or small the issue, they should answer the situation, any alternatives considered, and why the final decision was made.

Be sure to explain how the alternate route you considered differs from others.

Some of the Amazon written interview questions at the on-site interview can also come this way:

Most decisions involve analysis, but some are Proper judgment calls that can't be subjected to analysis because of time or information limitations. For example - "please describe a recent judgment call you made that couldn't be analyzed."

It should center on a business issue, regardless of how big or little it is. What were the circumstances, the alternatives you thought about and weighed, and the steps in your decision-making process? Include a justification for your decision concerning other options that were taken into consideration.

How Is the Exercise Evaluated?

Your submission will be evaluated and rated generally by Amazon reviewers based on the following two standards:

  • Expression and Clarity of idea.
  • Thought organization and structure.

Explain your answer clearly while maintaining the logical flow of the written piece to increase your chances of passing Amazon's written test.

The written exercise will also be evaluated on the following criteria:

Content: Does the response address the customer's concerns? Does it attempt to resolve the issue? Is the language professional and courteous?

Structure: Is the writing easy to read and understand? Is it well organized?

Formatting: Are the document's font, point size, and spacing consistent? Are any charts, graphs, or images easy to understand?

Creativity: Did the candidate devise a creative solution to the problem?

Impact: Would resolving this issue positively impact the customer's experience?

Candidates who can effectively address all these criteria will be well on impressing the reviewers and landing the job.

Now that you know how to format your written exercise, it's time to avoid common mistakes that can ruin your chances of impressing the reviewers.

1. Not Answering the Question: When you are given a writing prompt, make sure that you answer it directly. The reviewers are looking to see if you can understand and follow simple instructions, so don't try to be creative or clever with your response and deviate from the relevant context of the question.

2. Being Too Creative: While you want to show that you are a creative thinker, you don't want to go overboard with your written exercise. Stick to the facts and avoid any fanciful language or outlandish claims.

3. Failing to Proofread: One of the quickest ways to lose points is to submit a writing sample full of spelling and grammar mistakes. Be sure to proofread your work before you submit it, or have someone else take a look for you.

4. Using Slang or Colloquialisms: Your written exercise is not the place to bust out your best slang or colloquialisms. Stick to Standard English and avoid any language that could be interpreted as unprofessional.

5. Being Too Negative: If you are asked to write about a time when you faced a challenge, it's important to focus on the story's positive aspects. The reviewers want to see that you can stay calm and collected under pressure, so avoid any negativity in your writing.

Tips for Crafting a Writing Sample That Will Impress Your Recruiters

Now that you know what to do (and what not to do), it's time to start crafting your written exercise. Use the following tips to create a writing sample that will wow your recruiters and helps you land the job.</p<>

1. Keep It Simple: When it comes to your writing sample, less is more. Stick to the facts and avoid superfluous language that could confuse or distract the reader.

2. Make It Easy to Read: Use short paragraphs and simple language to make your writing sample easy to read and understand. The reviewers should be able to quickly scan your work and get a clear sense of your writing style.

3. Stick to the Prompt: If you are given a specific prompt, make sure that you answer it directly. The reviewers are looking to see if you can follow simple instructions, so don't try to be creative or clever with your response.

4. Proofread Your Work: Before you submit your written exercise, be sure to proofread it for any spelling or grammar mistakes. These errors can be costly and may cause the reviewers to doubt your writing ability.

5. Practice, Practice, Practice: If you want to ace your written exercise, practicing ahead of time is important. Write out a few sample responses to common prompts and get a feel for how to structure your work. With some practice, you'll be able to write a writing sample that will impress your recruiters and help you land the job.

According to Amazon, the only communication that can assist you in successfully resolving any disputes you may encounter while making quick business decisions is written communication. Simply put, this is because words are quantifiable, purposeful, precise, and time-bound.

When working in teams as large as Amazon's, being concise in your writing might help you get your point across. To prove to the recruiters that you are the ideal candidate for the position, you must succeed on the written test.

Learn How to Ace Each of Amazon's Hiring Steps

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  • Amazon Behavioral Interview
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Amazon Writing Exercise: What to Expect & How to Do Well

May 16, 2017 • amazon interview writing assignment • amazon writing exercise • amazon writing sample interview

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SEE ALSO: How to Ace the Amazon Leadership Principles Interview

Have an Amazon interview? Worried about the Amazon writing exercise? 📝

Have no fear. 👍

I'll answer all your top questions about the Amazon writing sample you are expected to write including:

  • Example Amazon writing assignment prompts from past candidates
  • Tips and tricks on how to score well
  • Examples of what has worked well for others

My team's research and analysis comes straight from candidates who have been through the process themselves and succeeded.

Amazon Writing Exercise: Frequently Asked Questions

What is it?

The Amazon writing exercise consists of two written interview questions that Amazon candidates are asked to respond to before their on-site interviews. How many questions are there?

Candidates are given two options and instructed to pick one question to answer. When is it due?

Candidates are required to submit their answers over e-mail 1 to 2 days before their on-site interviews. What are the length requirements?

Your response must be no longer than 4 pages and typical responses are about 2 pages. Anything longer than two pages might bore the reviewer, especially given their busy schedules. Why is it important?

Written communication is a central part of Amazon’s company culture. Writing is part of every Amazon employee’s job description in at least some capacity. This is why they include a writing sample in their interview process and take candidate responses seriously. How will your writing be evaluated?

Amazon will evaluate your writing response on two criteria:

  • Clarity of thought and expression . Be sure to explain your point well.
  • Organization and structure . Make sure that your writing flows logically and makes sense.

What are the guidelines?

  • Clearly indicate the question you have selected at the top of your response.
  • Respond in narrative form and limit the use of bullets or outlines.
  • Type your response in rich text format (i.e., MS Word).
  • Do not include any confidential or proprietary information in your response.

Amazon Writing Exercise: Example Prompts

Example #1: amazon writing exercise.

What is the most inventive or innovative thing you’ve done? It doesn’t have to be something that’s patented. It could be a process change, product idea, a new metric or customer facing interface – something that was your idea. It cannot be anything your current or previous employer would deem confidential information. Please provide us with context to understand the invention/innovation. What problem were you seeking to solve? Why was it important? What was the result? Why or how did it make a difference and change things?

Example #2: Amazon Writing Exercise

Most decisions are made with analysis, but some are judgment calls not susceptible to analysis due to time or information constraints. Please write about a judgment call you’ve made recently that couldn’t be analyzed. It can be a big or small one, but should focus on a business issue. What was the situation, the alternatives you considered and evaluated, and your decision making process? Be sure to explain why you chose the alternative you did relative to others considered.

Amazon Writing Exercise: Tips to Help You Score Well

  • When choosing your example, try to pick something as recent as possible . The more modern and applicable your answer is to the current tech environment, the better.
  • Be specific . Include all relevant dates, names, titles and elements involved in your example. Answers with more information are perceived as more truthful and paint a better picture of what it is that you accomplished.
  • Clearly answer each part of the question . As you can see in from the above examples, the writing questions are complex and multi-faceted. One of the worst mistakes that you can make is to ignore part of the prompt.
  • Context is important . These question will always, in some form or another, ask you about a time in your career when you were faced with a problem and how you responded to and successfully fixed that problem. Although showing off your accomplishments is obviously important, so is describing the problems that you faced. Your explanation of the problem should be given just as much space as your explanation of the solution.
  • Don’t be afraid to discuss adversity . In real life, unanimous agreement about solving hard problems is practically unheard-of in the workplace. An example that includes disagreement, controversy and how you were able to overcome it is more believable and applicable to a real company than an example where everything goes smoothly and everyone agrees.

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What are Financial Statements?

  • #1 Financial Statements Example – Cash Flow Statement
  • #2 Financial Statements Example – Income Statement
  • #3 Financial Statements Example – Balance Sheet

Additional Resources

Financial statements examples – amazon case study.

An in-depth look at Amazon's financial statements

Financial statements are the records of a company’s financial condition and activities during a period of time. Financial statements show the financial performance and strength of a company . The three core financial statements are the income statement , balance sheet , and cash flow statement . These three statements are linked together to create the three statement financial model . Analyzing financial statements can help an analyst assess the profitability and liquidity of a company. Financial statements are complex. It is best to become familiar with them by looking at financial statements examples.

In this article, we will take a look at some financial statement examples from Amazon.com, Inc. for a more in-depth look at the accounts and line items presented on financial statements.

Learn to analyze financial statements with Corporate Finance Institute’s Reading Financial Statements course!

Financial Statements Examples

#1 Financial Statements Example – Cash Flow Statement

The first of our financial statements examples is the cash flow statement. The cash flow statement shows the changes in a company’s cash position during a fiscal period. The cash flow statement uses the net income figure from the income statement and adjusts it for non-cash expenses. This is done to find the change in cash from the beginning of the period to the end of the period.

Most companies begin their financial statements with the income statement. However, Amazon (NASDAQ: AMZN) begins its financial statements section in its annual 10-K report with its cash flow statement.

Example of Cash Flow Statement from Amazon

The cash flow statement begins with the net income and adjusts it for non-cash expenses, changes to balance sheet accounts, and other usages and receipts of cash. The adjustments are grouped under operating activities , investing activities , and financing activities . 

The following are explanations for the line items listed in Amazon’s cash flow statement. Please note that certain items such as “Other operating expenses, net” are often defined differently by different companies:

Operating Activities:

Operating Activities from Amazon's Cash Flow Statement

Depreciation of property and equipment (…) :  a non-cash expense representing the deterioration of an asset (e.g. factory equipment).

Stock-based compensation :  a non-cash expense as a company awards stock options or other stock-based forms of compensation to employees as part of their compensation and wage agreements.

Other operating expense, net:  a non-cash expense primarily relating to the amortization of Amazon’s intangible assets .

Other expense (income), net: a non-cash expense relating to foreign currency and equity warrant valuations.

Deferred income taxes : temporary differences between book tax and actual income tax. The amount of tax the company pays may be different from what it shows on its financial statements.

Changes in operating assets and liabilities :  non-cash changes in operating assets or liabilities. For example, an increase in accounts receivable is a sale or a source of income where no actual cash was received, thus resulting in a deduction. Conversely, an increase in accounts payable is a purchase or expense where no actual cash was used, resulting in an addition to net cash.

Investing Activities:

Investing Activities from Amazon's Cash Flow Statement

Purchases of property and equipment (…):  purchases of plants, property, and equipment are usages of cash. A deduction from net cash.

Proceeds from property and equipment incentives: this line is added for additional detail on Amazon’s property and equipment purchases. Incentives received from property and equipment vendors are recorded as a reduction in Amazon’s costs and thus a reduction in cash usage.

Acquisitions , net of cash acquired, and other: cash used towards acquisitions of other companies, net of cash acquired as a result of the acquisition. A deduction from net cash.

Sales and maturities of marketable securities :  the sale or proceeds obtained from holding marketable securities (short-term financial instruments that mature within a year) to maturity. An addition to net cash.

Purchases of marketable securities:  the purchase of marketable securities. A deduction from net cash.

Financing Activities:

Financing Activities from Amazon's Cash Flow Statement

Proceeds from long-term debt and other: cash obtained from raising capital by issuing long-term debt. An addition to net cash.

Repayments of long-term debt and other: cash used to repay long-term debt obligations. A deduction from net cash.

Principal repayments of capital lease obligations: cash used to repay the principal amount of capital lease obligations. A deduction from net cash.

Principal repayments of finance lease obligations: cash used to repay the principal amount of finance lease obligations. A deduction from net cash.

Foreign currency effect on cash and cash equivalents : the effect of foreign exchange rates on cash held in foreign currencies.

Supplemental Cash Flow Information:

Supplemental Cash Flow Information from Amazon's Cash Flow Statement

Cash paid for interest on long-term debt: cash usages to pay accumulated interest from long-term debt.

Cash paid for interest on capital and finance lease obligations:  cash usages to pay accumulated interest from capital and finance lease obligations.

Cash paid for income taxes , net of refunds:  cash usages to pay income taxes.

Property and equipment acquired under capital leases:  the value of property and equipment acquired under new capital leases in the fiscal period.

Property and equipment acquired under build-to-suit leases: the value of property and equipment acquired under new build-to-suit leases in the fiscal period.

#2 Financial Statements Example – Income Statement

The next statement in our financial statements examples is the income statement. The income statement is the first place for an analyst to look at if they want to assess a company’s profitability .

Want to learn more about financial analysis and assessing a company’s profitability?  Financial Modeling & Valuation Analyst (FMVA)® Certification Program  will teach you everything you need to know to become a world-class financial analyst!

Financial Statements Examples - Income Statement

The income statement provides a look at a company’s financial performance throughout a certain period, usually a fiscal quarter or year. This period is usually denoted at the top of the statement, as can be seen above. The income statement contains information regarding sales , costs of sales , operating expenses, and other expenses.

The following are explanations for the line items listed in Amazon’s income statement:

Operating Income (EBIT):

Operating Income from Amazon's Income Statement

Net product sales: revenue derived from Amazon’s product sales such as Amazon’s first-party retail sales and proprietary products (e.g., Amazon Echo)

Net services sales: revenue generated from the sale of Amazon’s services. This includes proceeds from Amazon Web Services (AWS) , subscription services, etc.

Cost of sales: costs directly associated with the sale of Amazon products and services. For example, the cost of raw materials used to manufacture Amazon products is a cost of sales.

Fulfillment: expenses relating to Amazon’s fulfillment process. Amazon’s fulfillment process includes storing, picking, packing, shipping, and handling customer service for products.

Marketing : expenses pertaining to advertising and marketing for Amazon and its products and services. Marketing expense is often grouped with selling, general, and administrative expenses (SG&A) but Amazon has chosen to break it out as its own line item.

Technology and content:  costs relating to operating Amazon’s AWS segment.

General and administrative :  operating expenses that are not directly related to producing Amazon’s products or services. These expenses are sometimes referred to as non-manufacturing costs or overhead costs. These include rent, insurance, managerial salaries, utilities, and other similar expenses.

Other operating expenses, net:  expenses primarily relating to the amortization of Amazon’s intangible assets.

Operating income :  the income left over after all operating expenses (expenses directly related to the operation of the business) are deducted. Also known as EBIT .

Net Income:

Net Income from Amazon's Income Statement

Interest income:  income generated by Amazon from investing excess cash. Amazon typically invests excess cash in investment-grade , short to intermediate-term fixed income securities , and AAA-rated money market funds.

Interest expense : expenses relating to accumulated interest from capital and finance lease obligations and long-term debt.

Other income (expense), net:  income or expenses relating to foreign currency and equity warrant valuations.

Income before income taxes : Amazon’s income after operating and non-operating expenses have been deducted.

Provision for income taxes: the expense relating to the amount of income tax Amazon must pay within the fiscal year .

Equity-method investment activity, net of tax:  proportionate losses or earnings from companies where Amazon owns a minority stake .

Net income: the amount of income left over after Amazon has paid off all its expenses.

Earnings per Share (EPS):

Earnings per Share from Amazon's Income Statement

Basic earnings per share :  earnings per share calculated using the basic number of shares outstanding.

Diluted earnings per share: earnings per share calculated using the diluted number of shares outstanding.

Breakdown of Earnings per Share Formula

Weighted-average shares used in the computation of earnings per share: a weighted average number of shares to account for new stock issuances throughout the year. The way the calculation works is by taking the weighted average number of shares outstanding during the fiscal period covered.

For example, a company has 100 shares outstanding at the beginning of the year. At the end of the first quarter, the company issues another 50 shares, bringing the total number of shares outstanding to 150. The calculation for the weighted average number of shares would look like below:

100*0.25 + 150*0.75 = 131.25

Basic: the number of shares outstanding in the market at the date of the financial statement.

Diluted : the number of shares outstanding if all convertible securities (e.g. convertible preferred stock, convertible bonds ) are exercised.

#3 Financial Statements Example  – Balance Sheet

The last statement we will look at with our financial statements examples is the balance sheet. The balance sheet shows the company’s assets , liabilities , and stockholders’ equity at a specific point in time.

Learn how a world-class financial analyst uses these three financial statements with CFI’s  Financial Modeling & Valuation Analyst (FMVA)® Certification Program !

Financial Statements Examples - Consolidated Balance Sheet

Unlike the income statement and the cash flow statement, which display financial information for the company during a fiscal period, the balance sheet is a snapshot of the company’s finances at a specific point in time. It can be seen above in the line regarding the date.

Compared to the Cash Flow Statement and Statement of Income, it states ‘December 31, 2017’ as opposed to ‘Year Ended December 31, 2017’. By displaying snapshots from different periods, the balance sheet shows changes in the accounts of a company.

The following are explanations for the line items listed in Amazon’s balance sheet:

Assets from Amazon's Balance Sheet

Cash and cash equivalents : cash or highly liquid assets and short-term commitments that can be quickly converted into cash.

Marketable securities:  short-term financial instruments that mature within a year.

Inventories :  goods currently held in stock for sale, in-process goods, and materials to be used in the production of goods or services.

Accounts receivable , net and other: credit sales of a business that have not yet been fully paid by customers.

Goodwill :  the difference between the price paid in an acquisition of a company and the fair market value of the target company’s net assets.

Other assets: Amazon’s acquired intangible assets, net of amortization. This includes items such as video, music content, and long-term deferred tax assets.

Liabilities:

Liabilities from Amazon's Balance Sheet

Accounts payable : short-term liabilities incurred when Amazon purchases goods from suppliers on credit.

Accrued expenses and other: liabilities primarily related to Amazon’s unredeemed gift cards, leases and asset retirement obligations, current debt, acquired digital media content, etc.

Unearned revenue : revenue generated when payment is received for goods or services that have not yet been delivered or fulfilled. Unearned revenue is a result of revenue recognition principles outlined by U.S. GAAP and IFRS .

Long-term debt: the amount of outstanding debt a company holds that has a maturity of 12 months or longer.

Other long-term liabilities: Amazon’s other long-term liabilities, which include long-term capital and finance lease obligations, construction liabilities, tax contingencies, long-term deferred tax liabilities, etc. (Note 6 of Amazon’s 2017 annual report).

Stockholders’ Equity:

Stockholder's Equity from Amazon's Balance Sheet

Preferred stock : stock issued by a corporation that represents ownership in the corporation. Preferred stockholders have a priority claim on the company’s assets and earnings over common stockholders. Preferred stockholders are prioritized with regard to dividends but do not have any voting rights in the corporation.

Common stock : stock issued by a corporation that represents ownership in the corporation. Common stockholders can participate in corporate decisions through voting.

Treasury stock , at cost: also known as reacquired stock, treasury stock represents outstanding shares that have been repurchased from the stockholder by the company.

Additional paid-in capital :  the value of share capital above its stated par value in the above line item for common stock ($0.01 in the case of Amazon). In Amazon’s case, the value of its issued share capital is $17,186 million more than the par value of its common stock, which is worth $5 million.

Accumulated other comprehensive loss:  accounts for foreign currency translation adjustments and unrealized gains and losses on available-for-sale/marketable securities.

Retained earnings :  the portion of a company’s profits that is held for reinvestment back into the business, as opposed to being distributed as dividends to stockholders.

As you can see from the above financial statements examples, financial statements are complex and closely linked. There are many accounts in financial statements that can be used to represent amounts regarding different business activities. Many of these accounts are typically labeled “other” type accounts, such as “Other operating expenses, net”. In our financial statements examples, we examined how these accounts functioned for Amazon.

Now that you have become more proficient in reading the financial statements examples, round out your skills with some of our other resources. Corporate Finance Institute has resources that will help you expand your knowledge and advance your career! Check out the links below:

  • Financial Modeling & Valuation Analyst (FMVA)® Certification Program
  • Financial Analysis Fundamentals
  • Three Financial Statements Summary
  • Free CFI Accounting eBook
  • See all accounting resources
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Writing Exercise in Amazon TPM Interview

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Amazon, in addition to these stages, also requires candidates to complete a writing assessment as part of their interview process.

writing exercise in Amazon TPM interview

Facebook, Apple, Amazon, Netflix, and Google - famously called FAANG - are favorites of investors, consumers, and employees around the globe. As a result of this, the job landscape has become increasingly competitive for these companies. The interview process for any of these companies generally includes the following steps: 

  • Application submission
  • Phone screen
  • Phone or video interview
  • In-person interview (many companies are conducting these interviews virtually because of the COVID situation)
  • Hiring team review
  • Selection or rejection

However, Amazon, in addition to these stages, also requires candidates to complete a writing assessment as part of their interview process. 

In this blog, we’ll talk about everything you need to know regarding the writing exercise at Amazon during the Technical Project Manager interview process.

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Connect with a growing community of tpms, writing exercise in amazon tpm interview - a primer.

Written communication is crucial for Amazon’s company culture. No matter the job profile you look at, you’ll definitely find writing work in some form or the other. As a result of this, Amazon includes a writing assessment in their interview process to gauge the writing skills of their candidates. 

This writing exercise at Amazon consists of two written questions that are asked to all candidates before their on-site interviews. The candidates are asked to choose one of the two questions, write the subjective answer, and mail their response at least 2 days prior to the on-site interview. 

Your response for these questions should not be longer than 4 pages, and ideally should be 2 pages long. Anything more than 2 pages is likely to bore the reviewer, considering the number of submissions they have to read! 

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How is the assessment evaluated .

Reviewers at Amazon will assess and grade your submission broadly on the following two criteria: 

  • Clarity of expressions and thoughts. 
  • Structure and organization of thoughts. 

Therefore to ensure higher chances of cracking the written test at Amazon, explain your answer properly while keeping a logical flow of the written piece. 

Read these articles

Amazon writing exercise questions in tpm interview.

The recruiters at Amazon give you an option of choosing from one of two questions. The questions asked are the same for everyone, and you can choose one from these: 

Writing Question 1 - Amazon TPM Interview

The first question asked in the written exercise is around the sort of innovation you’ve previously brought to the table. The question will be to describe the most innovative or inventive thing you’ve done in the past. 

For your answer - we’d recommend picking any one instance of innovation that was your idea - it could be a new product idea, a change in process, a new metric, or a novel customer interface. You don’t necessarily need to have a patent to your name or anything quite as complicated; just anything innovative that brought positive changes to your work. 

Keep in mind that you shouldn’t disclose any information that your current or previous employers would deem confidential. Give all relevant context the reviewers would need in order to understand your innovation. 

Answer questions such as the problems you were seeking to solve, the metrics you used, what the result looked like, was it an important problem to solve, the difference that solving this problem achieved on a larger scale.

If you choose to answer this question, here are some things you should definitely include in your answer to keep it well rounded: 

  • How scalable is your innovation? Does it allow for automation and scalability without spending additional monetary or human resources? 
  • What is the breadth of impact of the innovation?
  • What is the sphere of influence of the invention?

Writing Question 2 - Amazon TPM Interview

While the first question is about past innovation, the second question focuses on your judgments. After all, most decisions can be made with analysis, but without proper judgment calls, the decisions may not be fruitful in the long run. The second question asks you to elaborate on a judgment call that you’ve made. It can be a judgment call in any context, as long as it focuses on specific business issues that you’re able to articulate. 

While writing this answer, give the context of the entire situation, the challenges, and your decision-making process. Talk about the various alternatives you considered and evaluated while arriving at the final conclusion - and explain why you deprioritized alternatives while arriving at the final judgment. We've discussed this briefly in our guide on how to become a product manager , too.

Things to know before attempting either of the two answers:

  • Don’t include any confidential or proprietary information that might cause problems. 
  • Use specific examples and lots of data points.
  • Approach the answer like you’re writing a STAR - Situation, Task, Action, Results. 
  • Your answer shouldn’t look disjointed - make sure there’s a story to tell, and ensure that it flows properly. 

In Conclusion - Ace the Amazon Technical Program Manager Interview

Amazon believes that words are the only medium that can help you successfully resolve any conflicts that you’ll face while making high-velocity business decisions. This is simply because words are measurable, intentional, specific, and bound in time. 

Clarity in words goes a long way in getting your point across while working in teams as big as Amazon’s. Clearing the written test is important for you to show the recruiters that you’re a perfect fit for the role of a Technical Program Manager at Amazon.

Check out: Googleyness Interview Questions - Google TPM Interview

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The Power of Words: How Amazon Finds Talent

Everyone seems fascinated by the “Four Horsemen”. Apple, Google, Amazon and Facebook are the current darlings of investors, employees and consumers across the globe.

Tech companies understand that their most valuable asset is human capital. The industry landscape has become increasingly competitive, which is why ping pong tables, yoga rooms, and free beer have become Silicon Valley staples. However, Silicon Valley has grown up, and competitive benefits are really just the start. Finding the right people and putting them in the right roles have become paramount.

While typically receiving hundreds of applicants for a single job opening, the interview process itself is fairly similar at most tech companies and consists of 5-6 stages. 

  • Submit an application online or to your recruiter 
  • Phone Screening
  • Phone or Video Interview
  • In-Person Interviews – Many companies are now conducting these interviews virtually due to COVID-19
  • Hiring Team Review
  • Offer or No Offer

In addition to these stages, Amazon goes one step further by requiring a writing assignment as part of their interview process.

Written communication is a central part of Amazon’s company culture. Writing is part of every Amazon employee’s job description in at least some capacity. This is why they include a writing assignment in their interview process and take the candidate’s responses seriously. 

This writing exercise consists of two written interview questions that Amazon candidates are asked to respond to before their on-site interviews. Candidates are instructed to choose one question and to submit their response via email prior to their on-site interview.

Amazon evaluates the writing sample based on two criteria:

  • Clarity of thought and expression – That the point or answer is well explained
  • Organization and structure – Writing that flows logically and makes sense

If you are thinking about adding this as part of your company’s interview process, here are a examples to present to employee candidates:

  • What is the most inventive or innovative thing you’ve done? It could be a process change, product idea, a new metric or customer facing interface – something that was your idea. What problem were you seeking to solve? Why was it important? What was the result? Why or how did it make a difference and change things?
  • Please write about a judgment call you’ve made recently that couldn’t be analyzed. It can be a big or small one, but should focus on a business issue. What was the situation, the alternatives you considered and evaluated, and your decision making process? 

This interview writing exercise allows you to assess how well the candidate knows your company, how they think, and their ability to effectively communicate through writing. Does your company need some human resources expertise? See the benefits of strategic human resource management with HRO Resources .

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Saks Fifth Avenue owner buying Neiman Marcus for $2.65 billion

By Kate Gibson

Edited By Alain Sherter

Updated on: July 4, 2024 / 5:44 PM EDT / CBS News

Saks Fifth Avenue parent Hudson's Bay Company is acquiring Neiman Marcus for $2.65 billion, the privately-held upscale retailers said Thursday in a joint announcement.

The combined entity, to be called Saks Global, will have a combined $7 billion portfolio of retail real estate assets, HBC and Neiman said in a statement. 

"We're thrilled to take this step in bringing together these iconic luxury names, Saks Fifth Avenue, Neiman Marcus and Bergdorf Goodman," HBC CEO Richard Baker said in a statement. "This is an exciting time in luxury retail, with technological advancements creating new opportunities to redefine the customer experience, and we look forward to unlocking significant value for our customers, brand partners and employees."

The Wall Street Journal first reported the deal on Wednesday.

Rare move by Amazon

Amazon is facilitating the deal by taking a minority stake in Saks Global. The acquisition is being financed with $2 billion raised by HBC, and affiliates of Apollo Global Management are offering $1.5 billion in debt.

Pairing the luxury department store chains is not unexpected, retail analyst Neil Saunders of GlobalData said, noting that Saks and Neiman executives have explored joining for forces "for some time." But Amazon's involvement "adds a bit of spice" to the combination because it would give the online retailer a foothold in the luxury space.

"The real win here would be the ability of Amazon to streamline logistics and e-commerce, giving the new entity an advantage in a market where remote shopping has become more important to shoppers — especially younger ones, which both chains need to do more to attract."

The investment in Neiman Marcus is Amazon's first in a brick-and-mortar retailer since it acquired Whole Foods in 2017, according to Bloomberg News . Amazon declined to comment on the planned merger.

Among the country's oldest retailers

Herbert Marcus Sr., his sister, Carrie Marcus Neiman, and her husband A.L. Neiman opened the retailer's first store in Dallas, Texas, in 1907. The company was sold to department store operator Broadway-Hale in 1969 , setting the stage for it to expand beyond Texas. Later, Neiman Marcus came under the ownership of the conglomerate Harcourt General, which also published textbooks and owned movie theaters.

In 1999, Harcourt General spun off Neiman Marcus stores and Bergdorf Goodman. Private equity firms TPG Capital and Warburg Pincus bought the company in 2005 for $5.1 billion.

Today, the retailer has 36 Neiman Marcus stores in the U.S., two Bergdorf Goodman stores and five Last Call outlets. The company declared bankruptcy in May of 2020, at the time becoming one of the highest-profile retailers to collapse as the COVID-19 pandemic was shuttering retailers across the U.S.; it emerged from court supervision roughly four months later after shedding billions in debt.

Saks, based in New York City, was founded in 1924 and operates 39 stores in the U.S.  In early 2021, the retailer spun off its website into a separate company to capitalize on a surge in online shopping spurred by the pandemic. 

 Hudson Bay — which also runs the Canadian department store chain Hudson's Bay is known as HBC and has a history dating back to 1670, bought Saks in 2013 for $2.9 billion, including debt.

Both Saks and Neiman have struggled to boost growth in recent years. Although the enlarged company would have greater leverage in negotiating with brands, it would still likely struggle to compete with global luxury conglomerates such as Kering and LVMH, which could end up "creating an even bigger headache for Saks," Saunders said.

Marc Metrick, CEO of Saks' e-commerce business, will become chief executive of Saks Global. He told The Associated Press on Thursday during a phone interview that consumers are increasingly demanding more access to designer product, easier ways to shop and more personalized experiences.

"This type of combination was the next move to make in order to put Saks, Neiman Marcus and Bergdorf Goodman where they need to be for the consumer, " he said.

—The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Kate Gibson is a reporter for CBS MoneyWatch in New York, where she covers business and consumer finance.

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Opinion: Happy birthday, Amazon? Why one longtime user isn’t celebrating the tech behemoth’s 30th

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I had just started my master’s degree in artificial intelligence when a classmate asked if I’d heard of Amazon, a new online bookstore where you could order basically any book in the world and have it shipped to your front door. Feeling all the excitement of a middle school book fair flooding back, I entered the world of Amazon.com and ordered a beautiful book. It felt revolutionary and futuristic but still cozy and personal. At the end of that year, 1995, Amazon sent loyal customers, including me, a free coffee mug for the holidays.

It would have been hard to imagine then that the small business famously run out of Jeff Bezos’ Bellevue, Wash., garage would be celebrating its 30th anniversary and a mind-bending $1.97 trillion net worth today. I continue to use Amazon to order gadgets and basic necessities, watch movies and shows and read books on a Kindle. I do all of this even though I know the once-beloved bookseller has become a data-hungry behemoth that is laying waste to personal privacy.

Today, Amazon sells basically everything and knows basically everything, from our favorite toilet paper to our kids’ questions for Alexa to what’s going on in our neighborhoods — and has let police in on that, too! Amazon knows where we live, what our voices sound like, who our contacts are, how our credit histories are, at what temperature we like to keep our homes and even whether we have allergies or other health issues.

Eastvale, CA, Wednesday, February 1, 2023 - A coalition of more than 60 environmental, labor, community and academic groups is calling for a moratorium of up to two years on new warehouse development in Southern California's Inland Empire, demanding in an open letter to Gov. Gavin Newsom that the governor declare the market's 1B SF warehouse sprawl a "public health emergency." There are 170 million square feet of warehouses planned or under construction in the Inland Empire today, according to a recent report by environmental groups. And despite fears of a recession, demand hasn't ebbed. Photographed is Ingram Micro distribution center located along I-15 in Eastvale. (Robert Gauthier/Los Angeles Times)

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Based on this information, the company infers a whole profile: It potentially knows whether we’re gay or straight, married or divorced, Republican or Democratic, sexually active or not, religious or secular. It knows how educated we are and how much money we make. And it uses this data to sell to us better.

As a privacy researcher, I advocate for strong consumer privacy protections. After spending the better part of a decade going through privacy policies with a fine-tooth comb, I can safely say that Amazon has been worse for privacy than nearly any other company. It’s not just that Amazon has awful privacy policies; it’s also that, along with Facebook and Google, it co-authored our terrible targeted-ad economy, built on siphoning as much data as possible from users so that anyone with access to it can manipulate you into buying more stuff.

Considering the importance of freedom to America’s origin story, it’s ironic that the country is so beholden to a company that has manipulation of our free will down to a science.

“Did you just buy these Italian coffee beans?” Amazon asks us. “Here’s what you should buy next.”

FILE- In this Nov. 20, 2015, file photo, packages being shipped in Amazon boxes ride a conveyor belt at the UPS Worldport hub in Louisville, Ky. Amazon is following Target and temporarily dropping the minimum amount shoppers need to spend to qualify for free shipping. Typically, Amazon shoppers need to spend $25 to qualify for free shipping or pay $119 a year for a Prime membership. Amazon's offer, which started Monday, Nov. 5, 2018, applies to hundreds of millions of items and on orders that arrive in time for Christmas. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky, File)

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Privacy and free will are inextricably intertwined: Both rest on being left to decide who we are, what we want and when we want it without anyone watching or interfering. Privacy is good for our mental health and good for society. Neither corporations nor governments — which have a way of acquiring the data the companies collect — should have access to unlimited knowledge about who we are and what we do all the time.

Amazon has played a pivotal role in making that possible. Its war on privacy took a particularly dystopian turn recently in Britain, where some train stations were using an Amazon artificial intelligence system called Rekognition to scan passengers’ faces and determine their age, gender and emotional state, whether happy, sad or angry; identify supposedly antisocial behavior such as running, shouting, skateboarding and smoking; and guess if they were suicidal. It’s like Orwell’s thought police came to life, but instead of Big Brother, it’s Big Bezos.

The worst part is that we just went right along with this intrusion in exchange for cheap stuff and free two-day shipping.

Unfortunately, Amazon has become almost a basic necessity. But we can take steps to rein in its worst consequences.

Consumers shouldn’t bear the burden of making Amazon better; policymakers and regulators should. A good place for them to start is with the American Privacy Rights Act , legislation currently before Congress. It isn’t perfect, but it would at least address our glaring lack of a federal privacy law. State privacy laws form a patchwork that varies widely in how well it protects consumers.

We need to start thinking of data privacy as a human right. The idea that companies have a right to all the data they can collect on and infer about us is absolutely bonkers. Thirty years ago, no one would have agreed with it.

This isn’t how the world should work, and it’s particularly terrifying that this is where we are as we enter the age of artificial intelligence. Generative AI programs, like the chatbots we hear about constantly, are designed to root out as much personal information as they can, supposedly to make them more effective. And Amazon is upgrading its Alexa assistant to incorporate generative AI technology.

Nothing I can impulse-buy on Amazon will help me feel better about a future with no privacy, mass surveillance and pervasive monitoring of our feelings and tendencies. What started as a beautiful book and a free mug has yielded a world where everything I buy, everywhere I go and, perhaps in the not-so-distant future, every emotion I feel can be tracked and turned into inferences to sell me more stuff or push dangerous ideologies or advance any other purpose that corporations or governments deem useful. If it sounds dystopian, that’s because it is.

Jen Caltrider is the director of Mozilla’s *Privacy Not Included project.

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IMAGES

  1. Assignment about Amazon Company

    assignment on amazon company

  2. Amazon assignment

    assignment on amazon company

  3. Amazon Report .docx

    assignment on amazon company

  4. Amazon Marketing Strategy Amazon Company Team Hierarchal Structure

    assignment on amazon company

  5. Amazon assignment

    assignment on amazon company

  6. Amazon assignment

    assignment on amazon company

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COMMENTS

  1. Assignment about Amazon Company

    Founder Information of Amazon. Amazon was founded by Jeff Bezos from his garage in Bellevue, Washington,[7] on July 5, 1994. Background The story of the formation of Amazon is often repeated and is now an urban legend. The company was founded by Jeff Bezos, a computer science and electrical engineering graduate from Princeton University. Bezos had

  2. Assessments

    About Amazon Before we get into the details of assessments, take some time to learn about Amazon, get to know our business teams, and "meet" a few Amazonians. Leadership Principles Next, dive into our Leadership Principles. We use our Leadership Principles every day, whether we're discussing ideas for new projects or deciding on the best approach to solving a problem. It is just one of the ...

  3. How to Nail The Amazon Writing Assignment

    For certain positions at Amazon (usually mid to senior level, L6 and above), as part of the interview processyou'll be required to submit a writing sample. This should be roughly two pages and given to you to complete on your own so that you can do it at home. You usually have 48 hours to complete the assessment.

  4. Amazon Online Assessment (2024 Practice Questions & Guide)

    1. Research company values: Amazon has various company values. Knowing what these are, and how to naturally weave these into your answers, is a great place to start. Amazon is looking for people who will fit their ethos and will be assessing you to see if you are a good fit. Company values include: Customer obsession rather than competitor focus

  5. Inside Amazon's Employment Machine

    In 2019, Amazon hired more than 770,000 hourly workers, even though the company, including corporate staff, grew by just 150,000 that year, John Phillips, the former head of mass hiring, wrote on ...

  6. Amazon.com, Inc.: a case study analysis

    In 1994, Bezos left his vice-president position at D. E. Shaw, a Wall Street firm, to move forward with his business idea that would soon become Amazon.com.2 Before the end of 1994, Jeff Bezos incorporated his book e-commerce company as "Cadabra".3 Later, Bezos rebranded the company as Amazon for two distinct reasons: The alphabetical ...

  7. Amazon Assessment Test: Free Practice Questions (2024)

    Amazon also operates a number of subsidiaries in which job openings exist, including Audible, Amazon Fresh and IMDb. Every team under the Amazon umbrella shares a commitment to excellence and a customer-centric approach. These values underpin the company's culture and are a primary focus of the Amazon recruitment process. Amazon Application ...

  8. Amazon Recruitment Process

    Amazon is the fourth most valuable public company in the world (behind only Apple, Alphabet, and Microsoft), the largest Internet company by revenue in the world, and after Walmart, the second largest employer in the United States. Recruitment Process: Amazon conducts 5-6 rounds to select freshers as SDE (SDE-1) in their organization.

  9. Amazon is 30. Here's how a book store gobbled up all of e-commerce

    Amazon founder Jeff Bezos speaks at an event unveiling the Kindle 2.0 in 2009. Bezos founded the company in his Bellevue, Wash. garage 30 years ago on July 5, 1995.

  10. Inside Amazon's culture of inclusion for employees and communities

    Amazon's culture of inclusion is reinforced within our 16 Leadership Principles, which remind team members to seek diverse perspectives, learn and be curious, and earn trust. Leaders work every day to create a safer, more productive, higher-performing, more diverse, and more just work environment. They lead with empathy, have fun at work, and ...

  11. Working at Amazon

    Amazon is a top company where people want to work for the seventh year in a row. Learn more. external. Four awesome health benefits employees can start using their first day. Amazon offers health care starting on day one of employment, along with mental health, advanced cancer care, and 24/7 access to medical advice. ...

  12. How to Answer the Amazon Written Interview Question

    Mistake #3 - Giving Too Much Background. Giving too much background is the opposite of Mistake #2, Failing to Provide Context. Providing too much context is just as bad as providing none. In both cases, you're failing to tell your story in an effective manner.

  13. Should Your Business Sell on Amazon?

    How to weigh the costs and benefits of selling on the e-commerce platform. It's a dilemma facing more and more brands: Should your business sell on Amazon? It's the most visited e-commerce ...

  14. Amazon Writing Exercise: What to Expect & How to Ace It

    1. Keep It Simple: When it comes to your writing sample, less is more. Stick to the facts and avoid superfluous language that could confuse or distract the reader. 2. Make It Easy to Read: Use short paragraphs and simple language to make your writing sample easy to read and understand.

  15. Assignment 5

    Running head: Analysis of Amazon company Furthermore, the next quadrant is Question Marks. Amazon Fresh has so much potential to expand into a very profitable company, on the other hand the restricted market share ensures that its improbable to utilize these company units as a main revenue source (Miller,2011).

  16. Amazon paper

    Assignment 1. Amazon Assignment 2 - Company - Company Overview Due January 17th, Assignment 1 Table of Content 1. Table of Contents 2. Company background & history (from the beginning to current year) 3. Your company industry description and outlook for next 10 years 4. Company current vision statement, mission statement, and objectives 5.

  17. Amazon Does an About-Face on Corporate Responsibility

    Amazon has a new view of what it means to be a good neighbor. But first...

  18. Amazon Writing Exercise: What to Expect & How to Ace It

    Example #2: Amazon Writing Exercise. Most decisions are made with analysis, but some are judgment calls not susceptible to analysis due to time or information constraints. Please write about a judgment call you've made recently that couldn't be analyzed. It can be a big or small one, but should focus on a business issue.

  19. Financial Statements Examples

    The first of our financial statements examples is the cash flow statement. The cash flow statement shows the changes in a company's cash position during a fiscal period. The cash flow statement uses the net income figure from the income statement and adjusts it for non-cash expenses. This is done to find the change in cash from the beginning ...

  20. Bezos to Sell $5 Billion of Amazon as Shares Hit Record High

    Jeff Bezos disclosed a plan to unload 25 million additional shares of Amazon.com Inc. worth $5 billion on the day the stock hit a fresh record.. The notice was filed after the market closed ...

  21. Writing Exercise in Amazon TPM Interview

    Writing Question 1 - Amazon TPM Interview. The first question asked in the written exercise is around the sort of innovation you've previously brought to the table. The question will be to describe the most innovative or inventive thing you've done in the past. For your answer - we'd recommend picking any one instance of innovation that ...

  22. Jeff Bezos selling $5B worth of Amazon shares as company's ...

    In February, Bezos sold about $8.5 billion worth of Amazon shares in his first sale of company stock since 2021. Bezos controlled about 10.8% of the company's outstanding stock, as of a February ...

  23. Amazon assignment

    Amazon assignment. Nov 5, 2010 •. 9 likes • 13,104 views. AI-enhanced description. Hamid Hussain. Hamid Hussain is taking a Computer Application to Business course on Mondays from 9:00 am to 12:00 pm. The document discusses Amazon.com's content management strategy and how it uses user-generated content and reviews to personalize the ...

  24. The Power of Words

    Written communication is a central part of Amazon's company culture. Writing is part of every Amazon employee's job description in at least some capacity. This is why they include a writing assignment in their interview process and take the candidate's responses seriously. This writing exercise consists of two written interview questions ...

  25. Saks Fifth Avenue owner buying Neiman Marcus for $2.65 billion

    Saks Fifth Avenue parent Hudson's Bay Company is acquiring Neiman Marcus for $2.65 billion, the privately-held upscale retailers said Thursday in a joint announcement. The combined entity, to be ...

  26. Happy birthday, Amazon? Why I won't celebrate the company's 30th

    Along with Google and Facebook, the company has done more than most to undo privacy as we once knew it, creating an economy built on our personal data. Happy birthday, Amazon? Why I won't ...

  27. Unit- 6 assignment-Amazon Case Study

    This assignment examines Amazon's business model and strategy formulation for its ongoing domination of e-commerce amidst strenuous competitive opportunities for emerging online businesses globally. ... the company deploys IT capabilities to deliver both its primary and support activities, coupled with customer service functionalities which ...

  28. Amazon Delays Launch of Project Kuiper Broadband Satellites

    The company now aims to start the first customer tests of its Project Kuiper network in 2025, production operations chief Steve Metayer said at a ribbon-cutting event to open Amazon's satellite ...

  29. Strategic Innovation Case Study of Amazon

    Strategic innovation is an organization's process of reinventing or redesigning its corporate strategy to drive business growth, generate value for the company and its customers, and create competitive advantage. This type of innovation is essential for organizations to adapt to the speed of technology change. (Rouse, n.d.)

  30. Amazon Prime Day 2024 dates announced: Shop deals July 16-17

    Amazon's 10 th Prime Day event starts July 16 at 12:01 a.m. PDT and runs through July 17. Prime members will get exclusive access to millions of great deals on brands like Clinique, Allbirds, and Kiehl's. New deals will continue to drop as often as every five minutes during select periods throughout the event, so members can come back and shop often to find something they love.