Updated: Feb 17, 2020
In my short time at Amazon I have conducted and successfully navigated three substantial and consequential interviews. My hopes are that some part of my story helps you get the next posting or position that you want through the lessons and experiences that I share in this blog. Several things ring true about each of the interviews that not only offer insight into my Amazon-specific dialogue, but could be seen as universal imperatives for a successful desk side or phone encounter which ultimately lands you an offer.
I know – “universal imperatives” sound as if now that I have secured employment and advancement in my own interviews that I am offering myself up as some type of expert. I am not. In my own story they were imperatives, in yours they could simply be key factors.
Dress appropriately. The old adage of dress for success is partially correct, but is often construed as donning an ill-fitting suit that you last wore to a funeral or wedding. I never wore a tie to either one of my in person interviews and had just returned from a stress-relieving run before my phone interview. Actively think about the impression you will make. A clean and ironed pair of jeans or khakis with a non-descript polo can be as powerful as a suit and tie if you feel great in it. I thought about what I would wear prior to my last interview and looked for and purchased my shirt five months in advance. My wife affectionately called it my interview shirt because I looked so hard for it. It fit perfectly and I felt good in it and I got the promotion.
Outline the experiences that you would like to share. While in the prep phase and just before or after you purchase that killer dress you have to determine what you want to talk about in the interview. What stories resonate with the job you are seeking? Can you recall specifics about what you did? Do you have metrics to back the stories up? Additionally ensure that the stories do not conflict with the information that you have provided on your resume. You absolutely do not want to generate questions that are meant to validate conflicting information. The experiences should add value to who you are as an applicant and potential employee of the company and position that you are applying for. Leadership, management, dependability, character and work ethic are attributes that every employer is looking for and should be easy stories to build out.
Know your story. I believe that your elevator pitch has to connect your interviewer to your why. It can be your family, adversity that you have overcome, a special hobby or education. A dry run through of your past job experience is included in your resume and really adds no color to the impression that you are trying to make. “My kids supercharge me; my two-year old daughter is a firecracker and my son is a beast of a football star…” “My wife is my hero she climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro last year and drug me along to photograph her experience…” Or as I stated “Hi my name is Lee Flemming, I am married with an adult daughter, am a US Army Veteran and I became an accidental Amazonian in the fall of 2018…” In each case the interviewer is engaged and is forced to ask more about who you are and gets you closer to your ultimate goal of connecting with your interviewer.
Develop a cadence for answering questions. Amazon and many other high performing companies swear by the STAR Method. Situation, Task, Action and Result (STAR). After considerable hand-wringing I thoroughly embraced the STAR Method and used it to my benefit. I am a natural story teller which aligns well with the situation paragraph. I am also task and results-oriented which helped me to ultimately internalize speaking to the STAR. My suggestion is that whatever cadence you use ensure that every question is answered in the same way. Your objective is to reduce interviewer confusion and enhance their ability to follow your experiences. You may also want to include lessons learned (LL) for some of your more impressive stories…STAR-LL. Organized and disciplined speech is difficult so you absolutely have to practice. As a matter of fact if you are searching for a job or think you might in the next year start getting your answer cadence together.
Connect with the Interviewer. The interviewer must see themselves working with you. If you know that you do not make a good first impression and that sometimes you do not come across as likable you have to overcome that for the interview. No one hires and dedicates considerable income to someone that they do not see themselves working alongside. For example, I have personally never had an interview that I did not laugh at some point and have the interviewer laughing also. Never. In that regard, do not be afraid to challenge your interviewer. First of all it tells you what kind of company that you have applied to if your interviewer takes it well, but also acts as a warning if they do not. No one person has a lock on right. If you unequivocally know that you are right then do not hesitate to say that you are. Laughter, agreement, healthy disagreement, eye contact and body posture all serve to connect you to your interviewer.
Express an interest for the position by asking appropriate questions. Ask questions, and I am not talking about “how much are you paying.” The organizational vision, culture and future plans immediately come to mind. I asked “when was the last time that you thought about leaving the company and why.” I also asked about “organizational communication and known support shortfalls that require short, immediate and long-term addressing.” Your questions should align with your interests and give you a chance to further highlight your expertise. It is another chance for you to connect with the interviewer.
Win and ask for the Job. Finally, let the interviewer know that your number one priority is a chance to work with their company. You have thoroughly prepared, dressed to impress, killed the interview and left a lasting impression. Do not forget to ask for the job. It is yours for the taking and the interviewer wants to give it to you. Ask for it!!