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Why Amazon pushes you down to Level 6

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Clients come to me to help them solve their interview and career challenges.

A very common problem I have seen is downgraded leveling at Amazon. A candidate interviewed for a Level 7 position at Amazon, and received a Level 6 offer. The compensation is still competitive for most people, but they don’t like the lower leveling.

However, typically, candidates are also afraid of missing the opportunities at Amazon. About 7 out of 10 candidates will take the lower offer but once a while someone would walk away.

Let me tell you what is happening, why you are offered a lower level position, and what you should do about it.

First, congratulations. If you’re offered a position, it means that you have at least passed their culture fit/Amazon Leadership Principles bar. That’s not easy. A lot of people fail the LP parts of the interviews.

Second, if you’re interviewing for a highly technical position at level 7 such as Principal Software Engineer or Principle AWS Solution Architect, a likely scenario is that Amazon doesn’t think you’re at level 7 from a technical expertise perspective. The word “Principal” in any job title at Amazon means a big deal. It’s for very experienced senior individual contributor. You probably did not show enough technical depth and/or breadth for them to feel that you’re L7 ready.

Third, you probably didn’t speak at the level 7 altitude. Amazon has a very flat organizational structure. There is a huge difference between level 6 and level 7. Many SVPs and VPs from large companies ended up at level 7 at Amazon. You need to speak at the right altitude, demonstrate that you’re senior enough to be at level 7.

Fourth, “think big” and “hiring and developing the best” becomes a lot more important at level 7. At level 7, regardless if you’re an individual contributor or a manager, you need to demonstrate that you can hire and develop talents for the organization. You’re a coach and a mentor with a keen eye for talent. You need to demonstrate that you have solved large-scale problems previously.


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