How to get a job at Jeff Bezos? A former assistant reports that the Amazon founder only asked her two questions during the interview. But they had it all.
Being able to work directly with one of the richest men in the world promises good pay, an exciting job and the opportunity to learn a lot. However, such jobs are also very popular and difficult to obtain. Especially since successful entrepreneurs often make quite eccentric demands on their employees.
Ann Hiatt applied in 2002 to be an assistant to Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon – and got the job. In a post for CNBC, she explained how she convinced Bezos to hire her. And that despite the fact that she had no experience in the tech business or any connections within the company. As she recalls, two questions that Bezos asked her were crucial.
Amazon founder Jeff Bezos: Two questions are decisive in the job interview
After several rounds in an assessment center, the final hurdle was the interview with the CEO himself. Bezos, now one of the richest people in the world, made short work of it. As soon as he entered the room, he announced that he would only ask the applicant two questions. The first: “I want you to guess how many panes of glass there are in Seattle.” Hiatt had not expected that – she was horrified, she writes.
But she tried to approach the question systematically: After all, she knew that was what Bezos was all about. She first estimated the population of the city and then calculated the number of windows for their houses, cars, etc. Bezos wrote everything down on a whiteboard. They did the math back and forth for ten minutes, and then the CEO thought the estimate roughly matched reality.
The second question was more personal, “What are your career goals?” Hiatt responded that she wanted to become like the other ambitious and passionate employees at Amazon and learn from them. “I explained that I had no idea how to be an assistant, but I knew the importance of constantly being outside of your comfort zone,” says Hiatt.
The hunt for the extraordinary
After that, the conversation was over: Bezos immediately gave her the position and the “closest desk to him in the entire company,” according to Hiatt. From today’s perspective, it is clear to her why the Amazon boss only asked her these two questions: He wanted to test whether she had the courage and motivation to “go at his own pace”. Energy and ambition are more important than skills learned at university, which is why Bezos has always surrounded himself with employees: inside whom he has to hold back rather than push. “The key to Bezos and Amazon’s early success was this relentless pursuit of the extraordinary,” Hiatt says.
For Ann Hiatt, the job at Amazon was the start of a steep career. From 2002 to 2005 she worked as an assistant to Jeff Bezos, who has since resigned as CEO of Amazon. She then worked for Google CEO Eric Schmidt, among others. She now runs her own consulting company, with which she advises top-class company bosses and startups from Silicon Valley.