Amazon interview and offer left a bitter taste

Microsoft elanor
Feb 11, 2018 75 Comments

So I interviewed with Amazon a few weeks ago. The process was super smooth. The hiring manager was nice, seemed involved. HR was engaged and kept his/her promises. During the interviews and the pre screening process, I got a very good idea about the scope of my work and how many people would report to me etc.

They made me an offer. But one level below what I interviewed for. Here is the reason it left a bitter taste:

1) I was very clear (with HR and and with hiring manager during informational) even BEFORE the phone screen that I was not willing to consider (the target level -1). Because I heard similar experience from a friend before and it also came up since the HR tried to tell me that while I had had a great career run, I might not have enough number of years of experience for that role. I was firm on my position (I have consistently exceeded in my current position at MS, no reason to be desperate) and they still decided to proceed with phone screen followed by onsite.

2) OK - I know it is possible that after the interviews they might have felt that I was not a good fit for the role or for that scope. But here is the punch line - the HR repeatedly told me that I would have the exact SAME responsibility, scope and same number of reports, yet tried to convince me to come a level below, because I do not have the number of years of experience. Sigh.

I declined.

Anyone else had similar experience with Amazon??

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TOP 75 Comments
  • SmartThings smartpm
    Nothing wrong from both the perspective, just not a perfect match, move on.
    Feb 11, 2018 2
    • Microsoft elanor
      OP
      U probably didn't get my point.
      Feb 11, 2018
    • SmartThings smartpm
      I completely get your point, you were straightforward in what you wanted, Amazon was not honest and they tricked you and low balled you, etc, etc.
      Feb 11, 2018
  • Amazon Qlch60
    Isn't it fair to offer target level - 1, if you don't meet the target level bar?
    Feb 11, 2018 5
    • Facebook KingVegeta
      1. OP was clear that they're not interested in n-1.
      2. If you didn't meet the bar, why would you be promised "the exact SAME responsibility, scope and same number of reports?"
      Feb 11, 2018
    • Amazon Qlch60
      Recruiter is trying to sell the position. Which is why you have the same responsibilities bullshit.
      It's normal to make an offer at a lower level. It's up to OP to take the offer or not. I rather have the option to reject an offer than not have an offer.

      Edit: typos
      Feb 11, 2018
    • Amazon
      Benny Lava

      Amazon

      PRE
      Amazon
      Benny Lavamore
      Lol, it is fair if they take the offer and no one else is low balling like you. If no one takes your offer, the joke is on you.
      Feb 11, 2018
    • Microsoft elanor
      OP
      @Qlch60 point well taken. It possible that the HR was trying to sell the position. But the key reason I doubt that is the unchanged number of reports. Typically number of reports reflects the extent of the area of ownership. This is why I suspect they might have considered me for level n-1 throughout, which is their evaluation and I respect that. But upfront communication would be convenient and time saving for both parties in my humble opinion and make Amazon look less shallow.
      Feb 12, 2018
    • Gartner Smithson
      The following might have been the been the scenario. The bar raiser may have felt that you would raise the bar at -1 but not at the target level. So he recommends you at -1. But the HM can assign how many every reportees he / you want, once you join the company - so he is okay to retain the same number of reportees / scope of work. One is TC / peer group and the another is responsibility. Moreover HM may have desperately wants you but couldn't convince the bar raiser to sanction the offer at the targeted level.
      Sep 9, 2018
  • Microsoft SayTheWord
    Amazon is notorious for trying to downlevel. However, I had the exact opposite experience recently. I was slated to interview for L5 (coming from L62 at microsoft), but after phone screen they said they would like to interview me for L6. Went through the loop and they made an offer for L6. They tried to lowball me on the offer but accepted what I asked for during negotiation. Overall, I feel they try to find the best fit and set you up for success. I suggest you look elsewhere if you are not satisfied with their offer. Good luck! 😊
    Feb 11, 2018 2
    • Amazon
      Benny Lava

      Amazon

      PRE
      Amazon
      Benny Lavamore
      Be careful, they might be looking for a fall guy to pivot later.
      Feb 11, 2018
    • Microsoft SayTheWord
      Good point! Hopefully that is not the case. 😊
      Feb 11, 2018
  • Palantir / Eng nqTK63
    Yes, same experience. Just think of it as training for other, real interviews.
    Feb 11, 2018 1
    • PayPal bmwbenz
      And it is very good training of behavior question. Now OP can talk to any manager
      Feb 11, 2018
  • Microsoft / Eng ¥
    I was shooting for L8 when I was coming to Amazon last year. They as usual made an L7 offer but kept comp at L8 level. And I took it.
    Feb 11, 2018 10
    • Amazon / Eng qwertyio
      Gods, Well-known Gods (Zeus, Poseidon, etc), Titans

      Oops, I mean, Principal, Sr. Principal, Distinguished
      Feb 11, 2018
    • Cisco Jose
      No L9?
      Feb 11, 2018
    • Amazon / Eng qwertyio
      Nope. I heard that they left it as room to expand the levels and seemingly just haven’t needed it yet
      Feb 11, 2018
    • Cisco Jose
      cool, nice
      Feb 11, 2018
    • General Motors / Product Ambitious
      What is a good L7 vs L8 comp package?
      Mar 9, 2018
  • Amazon / Eng
    DaaamDoood

    Amazon Eng

    PRE
    GitHub
    DaaamDooodmore
    External hires at Amazon have to “raise the bar” (better than 50% of people in that level) of the target level, whereas internal promotions into that level have to “meet the bar”.

    Hence you often see this where a candidate is meeting the bar but is an external hire - being offered a level below the one they interviewed for.

    Taking or not taking it is entirely up to the candidate.
    Feb 11, 2018 8
    • Amazon sev-0.5
      Actually, there is.
      Feb 11, 2018
    • Amazon / Eng
      DaaamDoood

      Amazon Eng

      PRE
      GitHub
      DaaamDooodmore
      Your orgs may have a different take, but I am a certified bar raiser, and saying this with the experience of having seen this situation play out many times.
      Feb 11, 2018
    • Amazon Vcrhvx
      Internal promo is not supposed to meet the bar, they’re supposed to be near the bar. If you expect internal promos to be at or above the bar, no one would ever get promoted as long as we’re constantly hiring externally too.
      Feb 11, 2018
    • Amazon dhwiudj
      Hmm I dunno I think I read that you have to ‘consistently’ be performing in the next level to be up for promotion. Not just near the bar.
      Feb 11, 2018
    • Amazon Vcrhvx
      Your right that you do have to be performing at the next level but that’s not necessarily the bar. The bar is the median performance of people at that next level. You don’t have to perform as well as 50% of the people at the next level. Rough guidelines I’ve heard is 30-35%.
      Feb 11, 2018
  • Microsoft sudo rm-r
    Yes. I inrerviewed at Amazon multiple times. In all those times I recieved an offer for requested level -1. Each time the reason was different. Which brought me to the conclusion that they have a fixed template of who gets in at different levels, and while your interviews play a part in that, it is predefined up front. The recruiters want to bring you in, they will say whatever lie they can to keep you engaged in the process. I ended up declining all those offers. I keep being surprised that after all these times recruiters are still approaching me to join Amazon.
    Feb 11, 2018 5
    • Toptal Ankjilt
      My observation is that they hire for the team. In the end that team interviews you. So recruiters from different branches/teams are approaching you without information about your previous interviews at amazon
      Feb 11, 2018
    • Amazon flatulent
      If you consistently are being offered n-1 then there is broad consensus on that being the appropriate level for you. You are still being approached because you are considered a good fit at Amazon regardless of the level you think you should be at. Get over yourself.
      Feb 11, 2018
    • Microsoft sudo rm-r
      Funny thing. Each time the reason for the n-1 was different. Once it was because the design interview did not raise the bar while the rest did raise the bar. Another time it was the leadership skills that did not raose the bar but the rest did, and another time it was something else. The fact that in each interview they had different reasons and sometimes negating the previous interviews feedback made me conclude that hiring at Amazon is either inconsistent in every possible way or that Amazon has a template for each level and the interviews play a very minor role in the leveling decision. Regardless, I can tell you that at other companies (which I have more appreciation towards than to Amazon) I received offers at par and higher to my level expectations. I work at one of them now (Not Microsoft).
      Feb 11, 2018
    • Microsoft elanor
      OP
      That was my conclusion as well. I can totally understand if they have to abide by a template and years of experience is one of such field. What I did not appreciate is that my years of experience is on the CV and they did not need an onsite for that. Of course, I am speculating, but it is possible that if I were desperate (real unhappy at my current role or stuck in a dead end situation) I would probably take level (n-1) and they were simply 'hoping' for that. Not cool.
      Feb 12, 2018
    • Toptal sudo root
      @op yeah. I think this is their approach. I am just surprised that this is not what single recruiter does but a whole systematic approach.
      Feb 12, 2018
  • Amazon / Product
    kLYS80

    Amazon Product

    PRE
    Amazon
    kLYS80more
    They promised me a fast track promotion path... but again false promise and I'm stuck... the nature of work is good but no career growth :(
    Feb 11, 2018 2
    • Amazon
      Benny Lava

      Amazon

      PRE
      Amazon
      Benny Lavamore
      There is no such thing. They throw all sorts of BS to not let you get promoted ahead of other internal members.
      Feb 11, 2018
    • Amazon / Eng eww🤬
      At least my recruiter was honest enough to avoid making this promise when I asked before joining
      Feb 11, 2018
  • Amazon / Product
    kLYS80

    Amazon Product

    PRE
    Amazon
    kLYS80more
    I went through a similar horrific experience... they interviewd me for an L5 TPM and offered me an L4 TPM after interview even with 8 years of work exp and a master's degree... I was desperate to move since I would be working on a niche technology and also there was no learning in my previous job... I'm doing work equivalent to an L6 to be honest... ridiculous levelling guidelines
    Feb 11, 2018 3
    • SmartThings smartpm
      The experience was horrific and you were desperate and then you blame Amazon, nice.
      Feb 11, 2018
    • Amazon dhwiudj
      I interview a lot and this happens ONLY if we have doubt that you don’t meet the bar for that level. This is actually good because we’re not just flat out rejecting you.
      Feb 11, 2018
    • Amazon Man2man
      Dude ..why the heck are you working for a company at a level which you don’t feel appropriate
      You accepted the offer and now are badmouthing Amazon publicly..

      Just wow..
      Feb 11, 2018
  • Blue Origin / Eng login81
    You sound a little full of yourself..I figure Amazon would offer level if they thought it was worth it
    Feb 11, 2018 0
  • Amazon
    Benny Lava

    Amazon

    PRE
    Amazon
    Benny Lavamore
    Every single candidate we offered has been down levelled. They are low balling as the cost has went out of control. You are wise to decline.
    Feb 11, 2018 0
  • Microsoft abcdzxy
    Same thing tried to down level I took the other offer.
    Feb 11, 2018 5
    • Amazon Man2man
      Good for Amazon
      Feb 11, 2018
    • Microsoft abcdzxy
      For me as well got a level bump at another company. Joining soon.
      Feb 12, 2018
    • Amazon Man2man
      Then why are you cribbing here..enjoy life instead of badmouthing
      Feb 12, 2018
    • Microsoft abcdzxy
      Learn to read first. Where did I say anything bad. Stating a fact is not bad mouthing.
      Feb 12, 2018
    • Amazon Man2man
      Ok .learning
      But the fact is - you didn’t clear Amazon bar for the level you thought you were fit..we use that bar consistently to hire folks that meet it..so there’s nothing wrong with the bar and that process ...so you know where I am going with this......
      Feb 12, 2018
  • Amazon Man2man
    I am sure this is another wannabe L7 perceiving that he may be fitting right into that role but hey the levels of Amazon are really very clear and separate..there is no way both levels will have same level of role and reports and responsibility

    Again it holds true for L6 vs L5 yada yada...

    Don’t get pissed at Amazon..they know what they want and hold the bar high for the leveling guide so trust me if you were that good Amazon wouldn’t have let you go

    Relax and enjoy MS
    Feb 11, 2018 5
    • Toptal sudo root
      R U 🇮🇳?
      Feb 11, 2018
    • Amazon Man2man
      Nope
      Feb 11, 2018
    • Toptal sudo root
      Sorry then. From your writing I thought you are 🇮🇳 or 🇷🇺. But you are at amazon so i thought more probably 🇮🇳
      Feb 11, 2018
    • Amazon / Eng troggzor
      Man2man has drunk the koolaide. "Amazon is perfect and can do no wrong." If anyone has a problem, it's clearly them and not Amazon's culture.
      Feb 14, 2018
    • Amazon Man2man
      Haha...true
      I have been forced to drink it...it’s all good now..everything seems so great!!
      Feb 14, 2018
  • Microsoft Krumpf
    Companies like Amazon and Microsoft don’t care as much about talent. They’d rather lowball you and get you in on the cheap. Thank god for companies like Google that raise the salary bar for top engineers. If it were only Amazon in the market, I’m sure lord bezos would think $50k is more than enough for a senior Dev to live on! Fuck ‘em
    Mar 22, 2018 0
  • New Anqrs
    I had a similar negative experience. It was much worse in some ways. Experience after getting an offer from Amazon is very much designed to scare away A players who have other options.
    Feb 11, 2018 0
  • Goldman Sachs / Eng Truth()
    Yep similar experience. Got 3.5 yrs exp. Interviewed for sde2. Recruiter reached out with sde1 offer. Sigh
    Apr 10, 2018 1
    • Microsoft kjyun
      Yeah, sorry to hear that. Coming theme at Amazon.
      Apr 10, 2018
  • New / Eng
    booboo08

    New Eng

    PRE
    barclays
    BIO
    Software Engineer with 10+yrs in wall st tech
    booboo08more
    Looks like they wanted to see how would you manage to negotiate the level you wanted initially.
    Have you simply declined the offer or tried to communicate what you wanted?
    Feb 11, 2018 1
    • New DayTwo
      Did you even read the post
      Feb 11, 2018
  • Amazon Man2man
    That could be true to some extent..agreed
    Feb 13, 2018 0
  • Microsoft abcdzxy
    I dont think you know where I was going. People are okay to underlevel so it has become okay. People are okay because stock is going up or other crap reasons. The bar is not so consistent based on my observation for hire and promo. I am not saying people are not good but there are a few who are not. Interview is a subjective process can't be standardised. You can try but it's a shade of gray. Enjoy work and be loyal to it.
    Feb 12, 2018 0
  • Microsoft lltof
    Amazon is notorious for doing that. Keep negotiating
    Feb 11, 2018 0

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