For more than a decade, Amazon has been sought after as one of the top technology companies to work for. As one of the members of the famed FAANG (Facebook, Apple, Amazon, Netflix, and Google) companies, Amazon and its esteemed colleagues are some of the hardest places in the tech industry to land interviews, let alone full time job offers. Google, for example, hires only .2% of all applicants! Compare that to Stanford’s 4% acceptance rate and it makes getting accepted to the top university in the US look like a cakewalk.
It should be no secret why people end up shooting for these companies as their top-choice destinations. With unmatched employee benefits and perks, brand new offices, stocked kitchens, options for remote work, and compensation packages noted for being the highest in the industry, the shared desire to work at companies like Amazon is clear. We’ll get into some Amazon interview questions, but first, let’s check out their hiring process.
The Hiring Process
Hiring at Amazon is constant. There are bigger waves in hiring volume like new grad roles and internship recruiting, but for the most part hiring is a persistent endeavor. There are nearly 30,000 corporate jobs open at Amazon (as of this time of posting), with 10,000 of those being located in the Seattle area. Needless to say, there’s plenty of opportunities if you can get your foot in the door!
The length and makeup of your hiring process will depend on your location and role, naturally. Most non-engineering opportunities will start off with a screening call with a member of the talent team. This is typically a casual conversation to make sure that your background and goals line up with the position. Engineering roles often start with a technical screen lasting about an hour in length. After another round or two, and some more engagement with the talent team, you are typically moved onto the final round. The final onsite loop will consist of a handful of shorter interviews, including a break for lunch with a team member.
Of course, in a massive company like Amazon, interview experiences will vary in regards to quality, steps involved, length, and difficulty. Amazon is typically seen as a fair place to interview for the most part. They are also preferential to a quick, extremely efficient interview processes. Let’s jump right into some Amazon interview questions so you can prepare for your Amazon interview!
7 Amazon Interview Questions
1. Talk About Our Leadership Principles
If I could attach flashing red lights and fireworks to this text, I would. Amazon lives and breathes their Leadership Principles, and for good reason. When you’re actively hiring for thousands and thousands of roles, maintaining consistency across the organization is extremely challenging. Amazon’s distributed hiring teams use these principles as their sort of collective compass. When every team internally embraces these ideals, new hires are integrated seamlessly into their role within their team, and within Amazon’s corporate culture as a whole. The end goal is a company culture where decision making is frictionless. Additionally, they hope to recruit for a shared identity where every single contributor is a leader. Amazon interview questions will largely revolve around these principles of leadership. We’ll jump deeper into these principles in the next couple of Amazon interview questions!
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2. How Will You Address the Challenges of Our Team?
This might sound like a no brainer, but understanding the challenges of the specific Amazon team you’re applying for is extremely important. The challenges for a solutions architect on the Amazon Alexa team, won’t be the same as the challenges of a program manager on the Prime Now team, alike, won’t be the same as the challenges faced by an engineering manager on the AWS team. Be sure to understand why your role exists right now as well as how to position yourself as someone that can exhibit the leadership principles to fill the exact needs that they require.
3. What Does The Customer Mean To You?
It is no secret that Amazon is customer-obsessed, in fact, it’s their first leadership principle. Every decision should start and end with the question “will our users obtain value from this?” It is extremely important to bring this mindset into your interview with Amazon. They want people that are able to centralize the needs of customers in their decision making. Competition, new product development, marketing, etc. mean nothing if the customer is unhappy.
4. Tell Me About a Time When You Made a Mistake?
While one of the key Leadership Principles is to be “Right, A Lot”, it is also important to recognize your mistakes, discuss the steps that you took to mitigate those mistakes, and convey the process that you put in place to ensure that they don’t happen again. Consider the principle “Deliver Results”, how did your mistake today lead you to be able to deliver better results tomorrow. Approach your answer formulation from the STAR method point of view.
5. Do You Work Well Autonomously?
Amazon is well known for being a bit different in their hiring approach. While other big tech firms are known for screening for culture, culture, culture, Amazon can oftentimes be seen as looking for doers, doers, doers. This bodes well if you like to get things done and need the autonomy to operate within your decision-making processes. It also has its downsides as Amazon gets flak for its sometimes intense, cutthroat, and challenging work environment.
The bottom line is that Amazon is driven by an individual contributor mentality. In similar organizations, you can definitely get away with doing less than expected or hiding behind the collective outputs of your team. At Amazon, that typically doesn’t fly. Amazon loves its leadership principles because it helps them match up with people that thrive in those working styles.
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6. Tell Me About a Time When You Had a Low Performer on Your Team?
You’ll probably notice a few of the Leadership Principles are incorporated into this question. We already discussed the importance of being an individual contributor, but another key aspect of the profile of an Amazonian is that each and every team member, from the bottom to the top, is expected to be a leader. Amazon wants people that hold each other accountable, but they also want people who build each other up and people who lend a helping hand when needed. Behavioral Amazon interview questions will commonly involve questions about conflict resolution and teamwork.
7. How Do You Handle Team Disagreements? Do You Defer or Influence the Team to Move Toward Your Plan?
No matter how hard you try to bring aboard people who work great with each other, teams will have friction. The key to mitigating team conflict is having members that know when they need to step up and lobby for their plan, in addition to knowing when they need to sit back and defer to a fellow team member’s plan. Amazon doesn’t want people that will sit back and mould to the status quo. You need to convey that you have the ability to challenge decisions even if the challenge goes against the grain.
Wrapping It Up
- If you’re entering the process for a software engineering role or internship at Amazon, leetcode will be your best friend and worst enemy.
- Amazon thrives on finding candidates with that intangible “x-factor”. Try to think about what that mindset would look like in your role.
- Practice mock interviews made from actual Amazon interviews with Interview School!