Amazon is one of the most successful companies in the USA and worldwide, run by the richest man on the planet. So, it’s no wonder that working at Amazon is a dream job for many. Besides, they are known for caring about and investing in their workforce. But make no mistake, getting hired and acquiring that wanted position is far from easy. Over the years, the company has developed a detailed and specific process of recruitment. Amazon interview questions are designed in a way to select not only the most skilled candidates but also those who will best fit the company’s vision and way of work. The story goes that, in the early years, Jeff Bezos himself interviewed each end every candidate for the job.
How to Answer Amazon Interview Questions
The Amazon interview procedure usually consists of several stages:
- The Initial Phone Interview – the first phone screening is conducted by an HR employee and its purpose is to determine your general skill level, experience, motivation, and attitude toward the potential jobs. The recruiter will probably also ask some questions related to some practical issues regarding the location of the position, salary expectations and so on. If you, for whatever reason, are not the right man for the job, they want to be done with you as soon as possible. The call usually lasts 10-30 minutes, depending on the recruiting officer. In this stage, it’s important to show your motivation, eagerness, demonstrate good listening skills, and to clearly and concisely express yourself. Mention any experience relevant to the desired position. Do some previous research on Amazon interview questions, especially considering realistic salary demands (but don’t sell yourself short) and have a clear picture in your head regarding potential relocation (particularly within the USA), work hours and similar questions. If the recruiter is convinced that you have what it takes to work at Amazon and finds no red flags, you move to the next stage of the recruiting process.
- The Additional Phone Interview – this time on the other side of the line is usually someone higher in the HR hierarchy and sometimes your potential team leader. You will be asked behavioral questions to determine how well would you function within the team. We’ll delve deeper into these later. If you’re applying for a technical position, you may face some questions from the field. These are the questions beyond the initial recruiter’s area of expertise. Although the Amazon interview questions at this phase are not too hard, they should demonstrate whether you are able to answer the requirements of the future post. Depending on an opening, you may do some coding, software testing, and answer algorithm and data structure questions. An online coding test is also an option at this stage. freshen up on your knowledge, prepare pen and paper, and make sure to have a stable internet connection. Have any necessary documents handy, print out cue cards with the talking points to serve as a remainder. If you are deemed worthy, you will be invited for further face-to-face interviews.
- The On-Site Interview – this actually implies a day spent at Amazon offices and a series of interviews. Most likely these won’t be traditional one-one sessions, you’ll probably find yourself in a room with a few people or even have an interview during lunch. You will sit with HR managers, people you might work under, technical staff and “bar raisers”. Bar raisers are trained experts from another team, with no direct interest in your hiring. Their goal is to provide an independent assessment of your qualities and see if you are the person that can raise the performance of your department. For most people, interviews with them are usually the hardest. They are exceptionally versed in Amazon’s “Leadership Principles”, which we will discuss later. One of the sessions will be focused on behavioral assessment. The objective is to try to get the sense of your behavior in various work-related scenarios. The interviewers will want to know how you may handle yourself in conflict, pressure, failure, and also how in success and how inclined you are towards innovation. Another part of the process will be concentrated on technical questions and skills. This is the most relevant part of the screening where you’ll face difficult tasks from your area of expertise, problem-solving scenarios, and practical case studies. It’ good to know that each face-to-face session is independent and that the interviewer will not receive feedback from your previous meeting. So, if you feel that you haven’t aced the first interview, know that the second one will not be influenced by that.
We already mentioned that behavioral questions are an important part of your Amazon interview. While we’ll go through specific questions later, it’s good to have some guidelines for approaching this part of the session. Questions will differ for different applicants, but in general, they will be related to your leadership skills, teamwork, performance under duress and some specific question relative to the future position. These are not simple yes or no questions. Try to answer by drawing on a story from your experience. Explain how you’ve approached the problem similar to the one in question.
Structure your answers according to the STAR method, as recommended by Amazon itself. STAR stands for Situation, Task, Action, and Result. Simply follow the pattern. Expand on the example from the past, and thoroughly describe the situation you’ve found yourself in. Then, name the goal you were expected to achieve. Outline the action you undertook to resolve the problem. Focus on your part in the process, not what the whole team has done. And finally, describe, if possible through quantifiable metrics, what you’ve achieved. Again, don’t cut yourself short. Emphasize your accomplishments and contribution to the result. Make sure your answers are well-structured, your story should have a head and a tail. The more specific examples, the better. Be honest and open about your part in the story.
Carefully go through the job listing and requirements to try to get a clue what the questions may refer to. Applying for a senior leadership role, product management or software engineers will all bring a different set of questions. If you are up for a management position, you’ll probably get queries about hiring policy, performance feedback or motivation. Technical positions applicant will mostly be quizzed on their problem-solving skills.
A big part of the interviewing process are questions related to Amazon’s Leadership Principles. These are often intertwined with behavioral questions. Leadership Principles are the backbone of Amazon’s business and an integral part of the Amazon interview questions. They are used in everyday operations and every candidate is evaluated through their lense. If you are seen as someone who will adhere to these principles, that means that you’ll fit just fine in Amazon culture. We’ll go take a look at all of these principles and give some tips on how to approach related questions.
- Customer Obsession – Amazon is, most of all, customer-oriented business, and for leaders, customer care always comes first. Here, you may face questions about your most difficult customer, prioritizing, situations where you’ve left the customers down and similar. When answering do not make the common mistake focus on maximizing profits and margins. Show that you are “customer-obsessed” and that, for you, customer’s needs are always at the top of priorities. Explain that every action you’ve set out to do had the end-user in mind. Tell a story about a specific customer you’ve helped. Be careful not to fall in the trap of “the customer is always right”. Your example should show that you can handle conflict in a way that doesn’t hurt either company or customer.
- Ownership – this principle is all about taking responsibility for decisions when things are going good, but also when things turn sour. From top management to warehouse workers everyone must own and be responsible for their part of the process. If you adhere to Ownership, you will not make excuses, you will cross inter-department boundaries, and always (together with your team) have the big picture and long-term goals in mind. The typical ownership questions include asking about examples where you went outside your responsibility to solve a problem, helping a struggling colleague and implementing a project that was successfully completed mainly due to your efforts. Try not to make your story too short, go into details about a project and product in question, what went wrong, what went right and precisely describe your actions.
- Invent and Simplify – leaders must always be open to innovation and new ideas. They should foster in-house ideas, but not shy away from new things from the outside. A leader just is prepared to be misunderstood and not appreciated for a long time. Amazon is a running mill of new concepts, platforms, and solutions, constantly trying to improve by innovating. On the other hand, people at Amazon are dedicated to simplification and finding the shortest route to the solution, thus maximizing productivity and efficiency. Here, you may be asked about an invention of your own (if you have any) or to name an example when you found a simple way to solve a complicated problem. During the interview, try to prove that you are creative and that you can be a source of numerous new ideas. Express your curiosity for new things. Demonstrate that you willow the field of innovations and are well informed on the current state in the industry.
- Are Right, a Lot – A lot, but not always. Good instincts and judgment are essential to a good leader. They are not afraid to go outside their comfort zone to seek solutions and make decisions for the benefit of the company. The important part of this principle is the openness to being wrong. So, you may be asked to name a situation when you’ve made a mistake, and how you’ve handled it. Or, how you’ve handled conflict or disagreement with one of your peers. Prepare a story about making a mistake, learning from it and using it for future success. Admit the mistake, but don’t go too hard on yourself. And, also, don’t say that you’ve never made a mistake.
- Learn and Be Curious – being a good leader implies a non-stop learning and work on self-improvement. The interviewer may ask you to name a situation where you contributed to problem-solving by merely asking questions. Or, to tell how your knowledge helped improve a product or a process. There’s is no need to display yourself as a know-it-all. Openness and willingness to learn are the most appreciated here.
- Hire and Develop the Best – recognizing talent and fostering are crucial to the success of the company. True leaders are willing to coach others and help them move through the hierarchy of the organization. The most common questions here are about the hire you are especially proud of or that has gone extremely wrong. You may also be asked to speak about mentoring someone. You need to demonstrate that you know the job inside out, which makes you competent to chose suitable talent and communicate your knowledge to others. You are willing to hire people different than you and are a strong believer in diversity
- Insist on the Highest Standards – leaders differ from other people by having extremely high standards. they demand a lot from themselves and expect the highest standards of services and products that they’re in charge of. Amazon conforms to the SLA (Service Level Agreements)- a set of standards expected of any product or service. You will probably be asked to describe the situation when you or your team member didn’t live up to a standard. During the Amazon interview, demonstrate your knowledge and understanding of the SLA. Show yourself as open to coaching and critique (self-critique included) in order to reach the highest standard.
- Think Big – pretty self-explanatory. In order to achieve and inspire you to need to be brave, bold and explore every avenue to satisfy the customer. Be fearless, creative and positive. These are the sentiments that should echo through your answers in this part of the interview. You may be asked to list the achievements you are most proud of or to name the example where you went big and failed.
- Bias for Action – be quick and decisiveOften, the speed of action is necessary to fulfill the objective. The recruiter will probably want to know about an example where you took action, without waiting on others or how you go about getting what you need from a not very responsive colleague. Prove that you are ready to take action and responsibility for said action if you feel it’s right. Explain that, on your side, you are very responsive and quick to answer queries from others.
- Frugality – a leader needs to be able to produce results even with scarce funds and limited time. Being frugal leads to innovation and finding new ways to do more with less. The recruiting officer will most likely ask you to provide an example of a situation where you worked with time and money constraints. Tell a story that shows your resourcefulness and ability to care for the financial well-being of the company without sacrificing the results.
- Earn Trust – in order to be successful, the leader must deserve trust from his team. This is accomplished by the attention, equal treatment of others and readiness to stand up for his peers. They need to be critical toward themselves and others and always ask for the best. A classic question here concerns your action in case you find out one of your colleagues is stealing. Be careful not to give a straight-forward “report or not report” answer. Demonstrate your ability to understand the nuances of the situation and act accordingly.
- Dive Deep – leaders are detailed oriented, get their info from thorough research and are always ready to check metrics when they don’t match the eye test. They are willing to go the extra mile to get a complete understanding of a certain situation. Try to answer the question in this part with a story about how, during a certain project, you did more than was asked of you. Speak about how you draw from research to decide on any action.
- Have Backbone; Disagree and Commit – leaders don’t agree with every decision just for the sake of social cohesion. They are ready to challenge their peers even when it may lead to uncomfortable situations. Here, you may speak about making an unpopular decision and standing by it or stepping up and disagreeing with another team member. Carefully explain the reason and thinking behind the whole situation so you won’t seem like a person who likes to argue for the sake of it.
- Deliver Results – because all of the above doesn’t matter if the results aren’t there. Delivering results is essential if you think you are an Amazon material. At any time you must rise to the occasion and deliver. This principle can be viewed as a final outcome of all the previous ones. You may be asked about the most difficult situation in your life (not necessarily work-related) and how you rose above it and found the way out. Keep your answer to the point, follow the STAR method.
Top 10 Amazon Interview Questions and Answers
Here are some of the common Amazon interview questions that frequently reappear during the screening process and the examples of answers. Of course, these answers, although helpful, are not set to stone and try to adjust them to the position you’re applying for. Build around them to make them your own.
- Why Amazon?
Something like this: First of all, I appreciate how customer-oriented Amazon is. As a frequent user of your services and products, I have first-hand experience with your customer care. That is something I have tried to emulate and instill in my former company. Also, one of my former colleagues used to work here and from what I learned, this is a culture that I would fit right in and thrive. I really like the environment here and feel that my contribution will help the company achieve even more. At the same time, the job here will give me an opportunity to learn and further develop myself.
- Have you heard of our CEO and how do you pronounce his name?
You’ll be surprised how many people get this wrong. Of course, it’s “Bay-zohs”, not “Bee-zos”
- Tell us the story about the last time you apologized to someone
Make the story about the person you apologized to, not about yourself. Admit that you’ve made a mistake and explain how you mended things. For example, stubbornly refusing to accept HR’s assessment of a new member of your team, only to see that he is one of your best workers.
- Tell us about a way you help coworkers achieve their goals
Example: I enjoy seeing my coworkers succeed as much as I enjoy my own success. One thing I do is try to pass onto them every new innovation or tool I discover. I found that this helps them organize and increase the efficiency of their work
- What action would you take if you discovered someone being unsafe at work?
Start like this: I know how important a safe work environment is and I’m glad that Amazon takes this matter seriously. In this case, I would inform the coworker in question that the way he works can lead to the accident. In case it’s within my area of expertise, I would suggest how to safer perform his job. Otherwise, I would advise him to talk to the supervisor.
- How do you impress your customers?
Example: I wow my customers by showing them that I care about them. I try to help them with any issue they might have because it creates a situation where we are both satisfied. The customer has restored faith in the company, and I have a satisfied customer. Sometimes, I am prepared to offer services for free in a limited period when I know that the customer in question is loyal and is going through a rough time.
- In your opinion, what are the main qualities needed to succeed at Amazon?
From what I know, willingness to work within a team, responsibility, sense of urgency, open mind and attention to detail. Your ideal worker is organized, time-efficient and productive, he must be prepared to admit his mistakes and do everything in his power to rectify them.
- When is the last time you had a conflict at work and how you’ve resolved it
Be honest here and don’t be afraid to speak openly. Something like this: The most important thing about conflict is to recognize it and nip it at the bud. The longer the situation drags on, the worse it gets for everyone. At my last job, I had a colleague who was always slacking of. His relaxed attitude towards work increased the burden on everyone else. After I saw that no one else is going to deal with it, I called him in my office and confronted him about it. I’ve let him know that while he is a valued member of the team with a certain quality, I can’t let this go on for much longer. He thanked me for the talk and upped his effort significantly since. I think he just needed someone to reach out and make him feel appreciated.
- Do you have a tipping point at which you can storm off and never return?
First explain that, while you are impassioned, you are always able to keep your temperament in check. Being calm doesn’t mean that you re indifferent. Share a story about a situation where you were provoked, but reacted in a calm, but decisive manner.
- Who is the best hire in your career?
The best Hires are usually the toughest. I hired one of the star performers in the company after a prolonged period of negotiation. It was obvious that he’s a perfect candidate, but I felt that he was maybe too perfect. He had the right answer to every question I asked. Doubt crept in my mind. I thought that him acing every round of interviews was due to learning questions in advance through other colleagues or some other channel. Then, one of my coworkers gave me a piece of great advice by saying that if he is that willing to do so much work just to prepare for an interview, imagine how motivated he’ll be if we hire him. I did hire him, and never regretted it. He’s been one of the top workers since.
Questions to Ask at the End of an Amazon Interview
So, you’ve answered all of the questions, but you’re still not done. As with most job interviews, in the end, you will be asked if you have any questions for the interviewers. These are in no way just a formality, so prepare some thoughtful and insightful questions. they will demonstrate your curiosity and interest in the company. here are a couple of ideas for insightful questions you can ask the recruitment officer at the end of the interviewing process:
- What’s your favorite thing about working here?
- Describe the company culture from your point of view?
- What steps are you taking to improve diversity?
- How does Amazon define success?
- Is there anything that you would change here?
- Tell me about your favorite benefit for the employees
- What’s the biggest challenge my potential team has faced so far?
- Give me an example of how I will collaborate with my superior
- What would my typical day look like if you were to hire me?
- How have my predecessors at this position succeded?
- Has the previous employee at my position been moved up the hierarchy?
- How do staff here typically deal with conflicts?
- What are the metrics for success in this position?
- Do you need me to expand or clarify on anything from my resume?
- When can I expect feedback and what is the timeline for the next steps in the process?