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Former Amazon Employee Reveals Two Questions Jeff Bezos Asked Before Hiring Her

Jake Massey

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Former Amazon Employee Reveals Two Questions Jeff Bezos Asked Before Hiring Her

A former Amazon employee has revealed the two questions Jeff Bezos asked her before hiring her 'on the spot'.

Ann Hiatt submitted her CV to the company back in 2002 'without much thought' and ended up being interviewed by the company's founder, Bezos - who would go on to become the richest person in the world.

She ended up working with Bezos for 15 years. Credit: Alamy
She ended up working with Bezos for 15 years. Credit: Alamy

Before that though she went through a raft of interviews with senior assistants, some of which lasted all day and all of which were 'dizzying in volume and pace'.

Ann - who recently founded a consulting company - then went several months without hearing anything from Amazon, and she was on the brink of giving up hope when she was called back for a final interview. However, she wasn't told that this final interview would be with Bezos himself.

Recalling that momentous day in an article for CNBC Make It, she wrote: "I felt relaxed going into the interview that October morning.

"I was patiently sitting in a conference room chair when the door opened and in walked Bezos. He sat down across from me and introduced himself.

"Bezos started the interview by promising that he was only going to ask two questions and that the first one would be a 'fun' brainteaser.

"I took a deep breath as he stood up and uncapped a pen at the whiteboard wall. 'I’ll do the math,' he said. 'I want you to estimate the number of panes of glass in the city of Seattle.'"

Clearly, Bezos has a warped understanding of 'fun', and naturally, Ann was 'momentarily terrified' by the task she was now faced with.

After gathering her thoughts, Ann said she reasoned that Bezos wanted to see how her mind works, and so she broke the large problem down into smaller chunks, estimating the population of Seattle and positing that each person would have a home, mode of transport and place of work or school - each of which would have windows.

She recalled: "Then we did the math.

"We got down into every possible scenario, group, anomaly and ways to account for these exceptions.

"It felt like I talked it through for hours while Bezos filled the whiteboard with numbers. I’m sure it actually took more like 10 minutes.

"I remember feeling a thrill when he wrote down the final estimate. He circled it. 'That looks about right,' he said."

With 50 percent of his questioning out of the way, Bezos then hit her with the much more straightforward follow-up query: "What are your career goals?"

Ann explained her eagerness to learn and push herself out of her comfort zone and she ended up getting offered a job there and then, going on to work as his 'executive business partner' for 15 years.

Ann wrote: "Knowing Bezos as well as I do now, I see why those were his only two questions. He was measuring my potential by asking questions that would explore whether I had the grit, courage and motivation to run at his pace and be brave enough to consistently jump with him and level up.

"By the end of the interview, we both knew I would do anything to be successful, despite being a very junior candidate.

"And then I was done. Exhausted, exhilarated, done.

"Bezos ended up hiring me on the spot. He gave me the open desk just three feet away from his own. It was the closest desk to him at the company."


Featured Image Credit: Ann Hiatt

Topics: Amazon, Jeff Bezos

Jake Massey
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