Overview of Amazon.com's History and Workplace Culture

Find tips for applying for jobs with the online retailer

Amazon.com sign
••• Lisa Werner/Contributor/Getty Images

Amazon.com is a Fortune 500 e-commerce company based in Seattle, Washington, and has the distinction of being one of the first large companies to sell goods over the internet. In 1994, Jeff Bezos founded Amazon, which launched the following year. If you're of a particular age, you likely remember that Amazon started out as an online bookstore and then quickly diversified by adding other items, including DVDs, music, video games, electronics, and clothing.

In 1999, just five years after he started Amazon, Jeff Bezos was named Time magazine's "Person of the Year." He received the honor largely because of the company's success in popularizing online shopping.

Corporate Culture

Amazon.com considers itself a completely customer-centric company, believing that if it doesn't listen to customers, it will fail. Amazon has stated that it wants to take advantage of any opportunity that presents itself to the company during a time of unprecedented technological revolution.

According to Amazon's website, Bezos sketched on a napkin a small graphic illustrating the company's culture. It shows how growth leads to lower costs, which leads to lower prices, which leads to better selection—and everything points to a better customer experience.

Interviews

Amazon describes its interview process as "peculiar," but it does offer an online guide to help job candidates through the process. Two key elements that are a part of the process are discussions about failures and a writing sample.

Review the FAQ page on Amazon's job site to find out all of the relevant details about how to apply for opportunities with the online retailer.

Failures are important to explore, according to Amazon's jobs site, because many successful projects are built from previous failures. Those doing interviews at Amazon want to hear candidates talk about some of their own failures and how they did or could turn them into something positive.

The writing sample is important because Amazon emphasizes what it calls narrative memos as opposed to presentations through PowerPoint or other similar programs. Employees should be able to explain through engaging prose what a proposal entails and how it should be executed.

Jobs

Amazon closed out 2018 with more than 600,000 employees worldwide, according to its website. It is known for its technical innovations and boasts that its engineers handle complex challenges in large-scale computing. Software development engineers, technical program managers, test engineers and user interface experts work in small teams throughout the company to build an e-commerce platform that's used by customers, sellers, merchants and external developers.

Technology at Amazon.com is definitely on the cutting edge, and some of the technical positions that Amazon.com routinely recruits for include:

Compensation and Benefits

The compensation at Amazon.com is known for being competitive. Benefits vary from position to position, but they generally include:

  • Medical, dental and vision insurance with domestic partner coverage
  • Company-paid basic life and accident coverage with optional additional coverage
  • Company-paid short- and long-term disability plan
  • Employee assistance program, including dependent care referral services and financial/legal services
  • Health-care and dependent-care flexible spending accounts
  • Time off benefits for salaried employees 
  • Savings and retirement benefits include Amazon.com Restricted Stock Units, 401(k) savings plan with a company match
  • Many positions are eligible for relocation assistance through a relocation services provider.
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