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Amazon Shakes Up B-School Recruiting for MBAs

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Amazon has started recruiting MBA talent from a broader base of business schools and conducting interviews virtually, shaking up their longstanding practice of sending company reps and executives to select leading b-school campuses.  Instead of only hiring MBAs from elite business schools, the tech giant is now reaching out to more than 80 MBA programs across North America.

Albert Kim, the head of Amazon student programs in the Americas, told The Wall Street Journal, the company has “worked hard to scale our recruiting efforts to help us engage and assess talent around the world.”

Larger Landscape, Same Target

While Amazon’s recruiting processes have changed, the target number of MBA recruits for full-time and internship positions stays the same at about 1,000.  An expanded landscape for the same yield is having a notable impact on Amazon’s recruiting numbers at leading institutions.  In comparing the graduating classes of 2019 to those of 2017, students headed to Amazon fell by:

(While these programs may have seen dents in their Amazon placement stats, each still reported approximately 93% to 97% post-MBA employment success rates for their Classes of 2019.)

Other factors besides Amazon’s expanded recruiting efforts have changed the number of recruits from top MBA programs. According to Susan Brennan, the assistant dean of career development at MIT Sloan, it’s also about decreased face-to-face chats.  She explains that top candidates are drawn to work at companies where they have a connection. With Amazon focusing more on virtual recruiting, that’s making students less likely to want to work for the tech giant. Instead, they’re more interested in startups and consulting firms who send representatives to campus.

Some Exceptions

The tech giant is hiring more candidates in data science and engineering, which has helped a few programs keep astride of the changes.  Georgia Tech, for instance, cites that many MBA students’ backgrounds in tech and engineering have helped them maintain their recruitment numbers.  Amazon, though, still reportedly sends representatives each fall to the Scheller campus.  Meanwhile, Texas A&M’s Mays School of Business—also known for attracting students with engineering or tech backgrounds—no longer gets visitors from Amazon, but is actually seeing an increase in MBA graduates landing there post-MBA (1 in 2019, at least 3 in 2020).

Amazon’s Prime MBA Candidates

Berkeley Haas recently invited Marco Cagna, a Haas MBA ’16 and Amazon recruiter, to write about his experience for an inside look at part of Amazon’s recruitment. Cagna works as a product manager within Amazon Web Services, a cloud-platform space, and also recruits Haas MBAs for internships and full-time roles at Amazon.   Here are a few highlights he shared, regarding what Amazon looks for during recruiting.

  • Amazon Leadership Principles: These principles are critical when interviewing candidates. Amazon wants to be sure that every new hire understands how Amazon works and why.
  • Relevant Skills: When looking for candidates, Amazon focuses on both tech and non-tech skills. They look for experience in STEM, but also problem-solving abilities, good communication, and leadership skills.

Amazon typically begins recruiting in the fall with information sessions and interviews, which continue through early spring. Summer internship candidates can expect to interview in January and February.

For the original report, visit The Wall Street Journal.

Kelly Vo
Kelly Vo is a writer who specializes in covering MBA programs, digital marketing, and topics related to personal development. She has been working in the MBA space for the past four years in research, interview, and writing roles.