Getting a job at Amazon Web Services (AWS) in South Africa requires deep technical skills, knowledge of the company’s leadership principles, and enough determination to get through at least seven hours of practical and personality assessments.
This was revealed by two former AWS employees, who provided MyBroadband with insight into the company’s extensive application process and how to best prepare for it.
They said the application process consists of two practical assessments, an online interview, and a trip to the Amazon office you’ll be working at where you will go through an intensive 4-hour interview.
An Amazon representative told MyBroadband that the company’s permanent South African workforce was increased by 3,000 in June 2020.
They could not provide updated statistics, but the representative did state that Amazon remains on a South African recruitment drive.
This is evident on the Amazon Jobs portal, where there is currently 168 positions to apply for in South Africa.
It was also confirmed to us by a former AWS employee who was involved in the company’s recruitment process for the past three years.
Our source told us that during their time in the recruitment team, the company hired around 10 new employees per month on average.
They also mentioned that the company has begun to shift its focus to recruiting recent graduates.
Getting into AWS is no simple task, however. The company has an extensive application and interview process before candidates are accepted into the company.
There are several ways that an AWS job application can be initiated.
The first is that the company approaches the candidate, as occurred with one of our sources who was contacted by AWS via LinkedIn. If you express interest in Amazon’s offer to apply for a job, you are invited to submit your CV.
The second is that an AWS employee recommends you to the company, as was the case for our other source. You submit your CV to the employee that invited you to apply, and they then forward your CV to the relevant department within Amazon.
Interestingly, when an AWS employee recommends a candidate to the company and the candidate successfully completes the application process, the person who recommended them receives a monetary reward.
The third way of applying to AWS in South Africa is by creating an account on Amazon Jobs, and going through the standard application process.
One source told us that for your application to make it past this point, the company typically looks for people that are skilled in at least two areas.
Regardless of how your job application at AWS begins, after sending in your CV the rest of the process is the same for all AWS applicants.
- Practical online assessment: Once Amazon accepts your CV, the company sets up a practical online assessment. The content of the test depends on the role you have been offered.
- Second assessment: The company can take a few days to notify you of your results, and if you have passed the first assessment Amazon sets up a second. This is typically a technical troubleshooting session, one source said.
- Online interview: If you pass both assessments, an Amazon employee working in the same field as the job you are applying for will conduct an online interview. From hereon, Amazon expects you to know its 14 leadership principles extremely well. These principles are “the bible of Amazon”, one source said. The first interview is primarily technical, and Amazon expects an applicant to be familiar with the STAR technique.
- Four-hour in-person interview: The previous assessments and interview will each be roughly an hour long. If you pass all three the next step is a four-hour in-person interview at the Amazon office where you will be working if you are successful. Amazon booked the flights and accommodation for our sources, who had to travel to attend their interviews.
The four-hour interview
By this time, you should know the 14 leadership principles off the top of your head, and the ability to apply them practically.
Throughout the lengthy interview, you are expected to continually link your answers back to the principles.
These are so important that one source said, “the company would rather hire someone who is technically lacking but fits the leadership principles”.
This does not imply that technical skill isn’t essential, and the 4-hour interview will be broken up into four 1-hour sessions — these cover technical, support and leadership skills — with a 1-hour break halfway through.
One source described this as the most intensive interview they had ever encountered and emphasised that the company uses a deep-dive method, meaning that every answer you give will be followed up by another, more in-depth question.
This will continue for each question until you give up or the interviewer feels that the line of questioning has been exhausted.
The four-hour interview is the final step in the application process, after which the company will notify you of your results.
If your application is successful, the contract negotiation ensues.
The typical duration of the application process, from the moment you submit your CV to the point you start working for AWS, is around four months.
One of our sources told us that they entered into Amazon’s application process more as an academic exercise after hearing of a number of their peers failing.
After seeing the company’s professionalism throughout the interviews, they decided to take up the position.