Following decisions to cancel event appearances and restrict travel, Amazon also appears to have put in-person job interviews on hold indefinitely, according to screenshots shared with Gizmodo.
Early last week our source—who requested to remain anonymous—received an email “requesting additional information from all candidates” about potential exposure to COVID-19, the novel coronavirus which has thus far caused close to 3,000 deaths. “Have you traveled or been in contact with someone who has traveled to mainland China in the past 14 days?” the recruiter asked.
Since then, however, it seems Amazon updated its policy. “We are not to bring any candidates onsite in person for interviews due to coronavirus concerns,” an email sent this morning states—though it’s not clear if that applies to all company offices or the one where this particular interview was scheduled to take place. Instead, it directed the candidate to a virtual interview via the company’s internal meeting and video chat software, Chime.
An Amazon spokesperson told Gizmodo that this directive has been given to all teams, and so presumably applies to all offices which would conduct interviews, but does not apply to all job positions. The spokesperson declined to share how many or what kinds of positions would be effected, and insisted that in-person interviews were not being cancelled—Amazon had simply instituted a new virtual interview protocol for the foreseeable future.
According to its own hiring site, Amazon currently has over 39,000 open positions. The new policy appears to be indefinite, and there’s no indication of what procedure is in place for vetting candidates to work out of one of the company’s offices if they’re hired on.
The apparent freeze on in-person interviews comes after Amazon—the second-largest employer in the U.S.—further restricted travel among its employees.
As of today, the company is asking that travel of all kind—not just to specific countries with larger outbreaks, but domestic travel too—be put on hold. “We’re asking employees to defer non-essential travel during this time,” an Amazon spokesperson confirmed to Gizmodo. The company also announced today that it would be backing out of the San Diego-based Game Developers Conference, following Sony, Microsoft, Facebook, and others’ decision to do the same for health and safety reasons.
Many of the major American tech firms have already severely clamped down on work-related travel between the U.S. and China, where the coronavirus outbreak first started. At present, 56 countries have confirmed cases of COVID-19; 15 individuals who have tested positive are currently in the US, according to the CDC.
Around 798,000 people make up the staff of Amazon, putting them behind Walmart as the second-largest domestic employer. That scale also makes them one of the largest purchasers of corporate travel in the nation. Amazon declined to clarify if it also sent this notice to the swaths of contractors that make up a not-insignificant portion of its labor force.
Shortly after Amazon confirmed the restriction, Business Insider reported that Google would also be banning travel to, Iran, parts of Italy, South Korea, and Japan after an employee of the company tested positive for the virus.