Jeff Bezos Runs Amazon With 14 Defined Leadership Principles

Here's how a 23-year-old engineer leveraged 5 of them to land a job.

Image by Jose Luis Pelaez/ Getty Images

Amazon, led by Jeff Bezos, has outlined 14 leadership principles for its employees. From “ownership” to “dive deep,” these guidelines are designed to drive innovative thinking and quick action. 

For those interested in working for Amazon, which was ranked in a LinkedIn survey as the most desired workplace of 2018, memorizing and using those principles is a key way to show you’d fit in the company culture.

Corey Salzer, a 23-year-old solutions architect who has been working at Amazon Web Services since August 2017, said that mentioning the principles in your résumé, cover letter, and interview was a major way to impress recruiters.

“One of the big things, I would say, is that Amazon really focuses on our leadership principles,” Salzer told Business Insider. “They basically encourage a set of guidelines for how Amazon culture operates, so really learning those leadership principles” is important.

“Memorizing them would definitely help [applicants], and being able to even use them in their language during the interviews,” Salzer said.

For example: Use the leadership principle in its exact phrasing and connect it back to something you’ve done at a previous job, internship, or project.

Take a look below to see which five of the 14 leadership principles Salzer highlighted in her interviews, and how she recommends using them in real life.

1. “Customer obsession.”

Here’s how Amazon explains customer obsession: “Leaders start with the customer and work backward. They work vigorously to earn and keep customer trust. Although leaders pay attention to competitors, they obsess over customers.”

“Customer obsession is really the big one,” Salzer said. “We focus on Amazon’s customers and always working backward from what they need and what they’re doing.”

Salzer said that during her Amazon interview, she emphasized that she and her team focused on the needs of her users and customers while designing a product.

2. “Deliver results.”

Here’s how Amazon defines deliver results: “Leaders focus on the key inputs for their business and deliver them with the right quality and in a timely fashion. Despite setbacks, they rise to the occasion and never settle.”

To show your investment in delivering results, Salzer recommended this phrase: “I was able to have a lot of responsibility and decision-making ability for X project, and by doing Y tasks, I delivered results in Z number of launches.”

You might also explain any setbacks that this project faced or what the turnaround was.

3. “Learn and be curious.”

This is how Amazon defines learn and be curious: “Leaders are never done learning and always seek to improve themselves. They are curious about new possibilities and act to explore them.”

To demonstrate your interest in becoming more knowledgeable, Salzer recommended this phrase: “I displayed learning and being curious in my classes where we were learning X. But I was interested in Y, so I learned about that through Z method.”

4. “Ownership.”

Here’s how Amazon explains ownership: “Leaders are owners. They think long term and don’t sacrifice long-term value for short-term results. They act on behalf of the entire company, beyond just their own team. They never say ‘that’s not my job.'”

In Salzer’s interviews, she discussed having ownership over internship projects and a tutoring website she designed in college.

“In my interviews, we talked about how I could scale that or how I would deal with different failure scenarios, so I was displaying a lot of ownership in that sense,” Salzer said.

Try: “I had ownership over this project, and I made X decisions that impacted Y. Those decisions benefitted the entire team/company.”

5.”Dive deep.”

This is Amazon’s definition for dive deep: “Leaders operate at all levels, stay connected to the details, audit frequently, and are skeptical when metrics and anecdote differ. No task is beneath them.”

Salzer said it also means to “not just understand the layer that you’re working on, but really what’s going on underneath that and around.”

“It’s about really understanding the big picture and how things work together and asking a lot of why-type questions,” she added.

Salzer said that in her interviews she discussed how she asked and learned about the technology and software design from her previous internship projects.

“Being able to articulate those learnings is really key,” Salzer said.

Read the other nine leadership principles on Amazon’s website.

Originally published at

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