amazon writing assignment

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. 

  1. Submit an application online or to your recruiter 
  2. Phone Screening
  3. Phone or Video Interview
  4. In-Person Interviews – Many companies are now conducting these interviews virtually due to COVID-19
  5. Hiring Team Review
  6. 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:

  1. Clarity of thought and expression – That the point or answer is well explained
  2. 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:

  1. 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?
  2. 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.

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