Learn all you need to know about Amazon interviews.
Amazon Interview preparation with Day One Careers
I worked for Amazon for nearly three years and conducted several interviews. When I was interviewing for partner teams, I became more interested in Phone Screens, where I interacted with applicants early on.
While most Phone Screens did not go well for quite expected reasons (Amazon’s threshold is relatively high), I witnessed candidates with excellent resumes who were unable to answer Amazon interview questions due to a lack of preparation (by the way, if you want to maximize the chances of getting an interview at Amazon or other Big Tech businesses, check out our Big Tech Resume Review service). So instead of dismissing them at the first Phone Screen, I decided to do a brief experiment: I’d provide them with important coaching and advance them to a second Phone Screen to observe how they perform with more preparation.
Despite the fact that I did not conduct any surveys with my applicants, I frequently followed up with recruiters to inquire about their progress. As a result, some made it into on-site loops and obtained offers, much to my delight. This piqued my interest since, in 9 out of 10 situations, interviewers would have dismissed them at the phone screen.
So, based on the 16 Leadership Principles, I decided to provide my best recommendations and advice on how to handle Amazon interview questions. This post was written from the perspective of a former Amazon interviewer. My goal isn’t to ensure that you pass the interview no matter what. Therefore, I’m not going to ask questions and provide replies. Instead, I’d want to assist you in overcoming roadblocks that may arise from a lack of knowledge of the interview style, which may disguise your abilities.
Despite the fact that I departed Amazon in August 2020, I remain a firm believer in the company’s hiring procedure. But, yes, I believe Amazon could do more to help candidates feel more at ease with how it hires. So I’m attempting to fill a void.
Here’s a post that handles this issue, particularly if searching for a general Amazon interview preparation guide.
Competency-based Interviews on Amazon
You’ll have to pass competency-based interviews regardless of the position you’re interviewing for at Amazon (tech, non-tech, or semi-tech – for example, AWS Solutions Architect). Of course, Amazon isn’t the only company that uses this kind of applicant evaluation (plenty of Fortune 500 companies and consulting firms use them). However, Amazon interviews nearly entirely rely on this style to determine your non-technical fit.
Another oddity is that Amazon places a high value on the competency-based portion of the evaluation. As a result, the company will not accept a candidate who exceeds a technical threshold (if one exists for the position) but falls short on the competency-based examination.
It’s critical to go through Amazon’s competency-based interview rounds. Putting out the effort to prepare for them is not only prudent, but Amazon recruiters also suggest it. Just have a look at Amazon’s Career page and pay attention.
What does the interview look like?
Interviewers will ask you to tell them about an event from your work life that exhibits the behaviors that Amazon is looking for in employees, rather than reading through your CV. “Tell me about a time when you refused to accept things as they were,” the interview questions will say. Then, the interviewee narrates the narrative and answers questions from the audience.
Why does Amazon use competency-based interviewing?
By their admission, Amazon is a data-driven company. However, they found evidence that this interviewing strategy is the most effective for determining whether a candidate would be successful in the long run.
Competency-based interviewing’s basic concept (and promise) is that previous performance predicts future performance. A competency-based interview’s story-telling structure helps Amazon determine if the candidate has displayed the needed behaviors in the past.
Note that the worlds of HR and social science disagree over which form of interview is best predictive of an applicant’s success in the firm. Every company chooses its dojo — some do so intuitively, while others seek evidence. Amazon chose competence interviewing as their method of choice, and this format isn’t going away anytime soon.
What behaviors should you demonstrate in an Amazon interview?
Amazon looks for behaviors that align with the 16 Leadership Principles, Amazon’s company management philosophy (or LPs).
What are the Amazon Leadership Principles?
The DNA of Amazon, the articles of faith, the constitution, and, predictably, the frequent adornment on the wall are all 16 Leadership Principles. In six months after joining the company, you’ll be speaking in LPs. You’ll ask your spouse to “Disagree and Commit” alongside you when it comes to choosing a new couch type. You’ll be encouraging your kids to dig deep into their schoolwork while chastising them for their lack of “ownership.” You get my drift.
You can get all of the information you need about Amazon’s 16 LPs online, including on their job website, YouTube, Quora, and other places.
How will an Amazon interview assess my performance against 16 Leadership Principles?
Every interview question will “test” at least one LP, which is why, if you do enough research on the Internet, you can compile a list of the most often asked LP questions and map them to each LP. I’ve also compiled a vetted list of Amazon interview questions to give you an idea of some of the most common topics. I wouldn’t advocate putting too much emphasis on mapping questions to LPs. Use this exercise to understand what the questions could be like, but don’t make it the focus of your study.
How should I respond to Amazon interview questions?
An introduction tale of no more than 4 minutes should be your response. The situation, Task (or Obstacle), Actions, and Results should be organized in a STAR (or SOAR) format (check out my signature STAR Interview Technique training). Then, if the interviewer asks for further information, you should be prepared to supply it. It would help if you also made certain that every circumstance has a quantifiable result. These might be quantitative or qualitative, but you should be able to explain how you determined if you succeeded or failed.
Long monologues should be avoided at all costs.
When an Amazon interview seems like a discussion, you’re doing something well. Aim to be concise and to-the-point, omitting unnecessary or unrelated details while providing enough information to the interviewer to establish that the narrative is true and that you have a keen eye for detail.
Share anecdotes regarding professional failures with meticulous care. Almost every Leadership Principle has an “other side,” which may be evaluated by asking a question about a blunder. Learn how to respond to Amazon interview questions concerning failures by reading this article.
How will Amazon assess the quality of my responses?
Interviewers will compare your replies to the standard set for the role’s level. Suppose you can persuade an interviewer that your behaviors during the interview put you ahead of 50% of existing Amazonians at that level and in the same job family. In that case, they will vote to employ you. Because it’s a high-judgment choice (i.e., no quantitative evidence), you’ll be interviewed by 5–6 individuals.
What are the useful characteristics to demonstrate in an Amazon interview?
Even if we evaluate you against LPs, it helps if you are calm, composed, and relaxed, brief and not “loopy,” confident but not arrogant, sincere, engaging, and thrilled to meet Amazonians, as well as equally pleased to discuss your accomplishments during the interview.