IT job seekers complain of the hoops they have to jump through to work at Google or Microsoft. Amazon’s not much different, though it does have its own unique set of hoops. To be a manager at the online retail giant, a person must have a certain personality profile, or at least be willing to adapt, transform and become an Amazonian, says George Packer in the New Yorker.
And, according to a former Amazon employee he quotes, prospective managers need to take the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator – hopefully ending up with a personality profile similar to that of founder Jeff Bezos.
The key to understanding Amazon is the hiring process. You’re not hired to do a particular job – you’re hired to be an Amazonian. Lots of managers had to take the Myers-Briggs personality test. Eighty percent of them came in two or three similar categories, and Bezos is the same: introverted, detail-oriented, engineer-type personality. Not musicians, designers, salesmen. The vast majority fall within the same personality type – people who graduate at the top of their class at M.I.T. and have no idea what to say to a woman in a bar.
Amazon executives hold disdain for publishers who select books based on instinct rather than analyzing customer data, Packer notes. Such metrics are applied to employees, as well. For example, the company writers who describe a product or conduct an interview aren’t judged by the quality of their copy, but by whether or not customers purchase the product before leaving the page.
Amazon realized the value of customer data mining long before other companies got wise to its value. At an early publishing trade show…
Bezos said that Amazon intended to sell books as a way of gathering data on affluent, educated shoppers. The books would be priced close to cost, in order to increase sales volume. After collecting data on millions of customers, Amazon could figure out how to sell everything else dirt cheap on the Internet. (Amazon says that its original business plan “contemplated only books.”)
Amazon hasn’t lost its interest in deepening its use of data. The company has hundreds of job openings in the U.S., including data engineers, hardware developers and software developers, Susan Harker, Amazon’s vice president of global talent acquisition, told Dice News. “We hire a lot of machine learning scientists to work on challenging business problems,” she said.