Amazons Focus On Scalability
As you might expect from the tech behemoth, Amazon is very concerned with how things scale. Being able to not only solve certain technical challenges but also scale them is an important criterion on which you will be assessed.
For system design-based questions specifically, having a solid grasp of the various database technologies, how they scale, and how they compare will be a feather in your cap when confronted with how to increase the scale of your initial solution for a problem.
Expect to be able to effectively navigate system design-style interviews. These interviews tend to test your overall ability to design and scale technically based systems.
If youre unfamiliar with this style of interview or if you want practical tactics to prepare for system design interviews, check out this post by Byte by Byte that covers how to ace your interview.
Can You Describe Yourmost Difficult Customer And How You Were Able To Handle Their Needs
Amazon rose to greatness partially because of its commitment to customer service. It made the shopping experience better, even when something didnt go right.
If the job is even remotely customer-facing, you should be ready for this question. Dealing with a disgruntled customer isnt easy, and Amazon wants to know that youre up to the challenge.
In my previous role, a customer was upset that a product they ordered was put on backorder unexpectedly after they made their purchase. They needed a functional version of the item as quickly as possible, and the possibility that that wouldnt happen increased their stress levels, leaving them just shy of hostile. To resolve their issue, I began by listening to their concern, rephrasing what was being shared, and asking clarifying questions to ensure my full understanding. I then reassured them that Id work with them to find a solution. Together, we discussed alternative products that were in stock that could meet their needs. As soon as a substitute was identified, we canceled the old order and initiated the new one. I applied a free shipping upgrade to expedite delivery, ensuring it would arrive before the customers deadline. In the end, they were fully satisfied with the solution.
How Should I Respond To Amazon Interview Questions
You should respond with an introductory story that lasts no more than 4 minutes. The response should be structured in a STAR format: Situation, Task , Actions, Results . Then you should invite the interviewer to drill down for more details and be ready to provide them. You should also ensure that all situations end with measurable outcomes. These can be both quantitative and or qualitative regardless, you should be able to explain how you knew that you succeeded or failed.
Be sure to avoid long monologues.
You know you are doing well when an Amazon interview feels like a conversation. Aim to be brief and to the point – concise enough to exclude unnecessary or unrelated details, but offer enough to the interviewer to demonstrate that the story is real and that you have an eye for detail.
Pay special attention to sharing stories about professional failures. Almost every Leadership Principle has a “reverse side”, which may be tested by a question about a mishap. Read this article to learn how to answer Amazon interview questions about failures.
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Learn The Shortcut For Answering Any Leadership Principle Question Without Knowing Which Principle It’s Asking About
If I ask you a behavioral question that would be typical in an Amazon interview, how will you know what principle Im asking about? If I ask, When have you taken a risk? do you know which principle this question falls under? How quickly did you figure it out?
I want to talk about how to know which principle a question is about because this is a topic my clients ask me about frequently. Many clients make spreadsheets with their stories and map them to the proper principles. I think this is a good thing to do. But what if you do this and still you cant remember the correct principle once youre in the interview?
I used to tell my clients to memorize the most common questions for each principle so that they would immediately know which principle to target in their answers. I still think this holistic approach is the best method in preparing for an interview at Amazon, but it can take a lot of time to become familiar with fourteen principles time that you may not have if your interview is coming fast.
So Ill give you a shortcut: just make sure your answers to whatever principle question – show your excellence or high performance.
Think about the principles as a whole
Use the shortcut instead of panicking
So once again, before the interview ask yourself what the principles as a whole mean. Why do they exist? What are the interviewers really looking for?
Amazon’s 16 Leadership Principles: An Overview
- Customer Obsession
- Strive to be Earth’s Best Employer
- Success and Scale Bring Broad Responsibility
Naturally, your interviewer will be listening closely to the examples of past performance you give in response to their behavioral questions, and how you’ve demonstrated these leadership principles. As we mentioned before, behavioral questions at Amazon interview may hold more weight than at other companies.
Which is even more reason to prepare for them ahead of time.
Let’s review each in-depth.
Below, you’ll find the short explanation of each leadership principle given by Amazon on their careers page. Read each explanation thoroughly, as you’ll pick up clues as to how your answers to behavioral questions will be scored. When you’re ready, watch the expert mock interviews linked and then try your hand at a few sample behavioral interview questions compiled from past interviews.
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Amazon Interview Prep Call
Before any virtual or face-to-face interview, a preparation call concentrates on delivering an introductory session to the company and its stakeholders. It provides an opportunity for the candidate to know and understand things beforehand. This call between a candidate and a recruiter before the actual interview or meeting is crucial and exceptionally beneficial for the candidate. It not only helps prepare the candidate but also furnishes confidence, motivation, and comfort. Lets know about Amazon Interview Prep Call.
Amazons interviews are directed on leadership principles and it uses the STAR procedure for answers. The recruiter gives a sample interview question that assists the candidate to prepare. The prep call is more like a dry run of the interview. Amazons interview process can be gruesome so the prep call helps the candidate a lot. The recruiter may ask you a few fair questions and furnish you with tools and resources to boost you. A recruiter will contact you by sending an email or via LinkedIn.
Once the prep call is done the candidate can prepare well for the final interview. The hiring process in amazon can be broadly divided into five processes, and it may take from one week to four months for the process to end, depending on the position and team. Depending on the position youre being interviewed for, you may be asked to complete a technical or non-technical assessment, you will be asked to answer behavioral questions, or complete a writing assessment.
Until You’ve Mastered These 50 Questions
Preparing for any interview requires some work, and this is more so for a company the size of Amazon, where competition is very high. More preparation is always better, but whats more important is the quality of preparation. After reading this post, you can rest assured that you will have greatly enhanced your chances of passing the interview!
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Recruiters Offer Their Best Tips For Interviewing At Amazon
- Prepare for behavioral-based interview questions
- Format responses using the STAR method
- Provide details
- Focus on “I” not “we”
- Don’t shy away from failures
- Know why you want to work at Amazon
- Ask for clarification when you need it
- Brush up on your writing skills
- Prepare for a phone screen and multiple interviews
- Study the Leadership Principles
How It Works: Raising The Bar
One of the more unique Amazon interview processes is the Bar Raiser . As a candidate, this section may help you understand a bit of how our decision-making sausage is made.
A Bar Raiser is someone outside of the direct team that has a certain amount of both interviews and mentored training. The BR is there to help the team determine if that candidate is better than 50% of the current people in the current role. The core concept is that sometimes hiring managers and teams are really motivated to hire people, even if it means making compromises. After all, managers are often judged at AWS if they can actually hire all the people they asked for. The growth can be a bit crazy to manage. It is the mechanism we use to make sure that our teams dont become complacent over time or chase growth over quality.
What do they teach you in this training? More than a few things. One of the first things is well-written feedback. AWS is a very writing-intensive company. And the first thing everyone does before making a decision on a candidate is to take time to read everyones feedback. As a candidate, youll hear and see lots of notes being taken during your interview .
Some of the major techniques for consensus revolve around consistency. Setting expectations, calling out objective issues associated with the role, and finding ways to identify bias. Some of the questions I ask folks when were trying to hire someone include:
What is their superpower? Would you admire them?
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Structure Of The Interviews
After an initial phone screen, PM candidates will move onto a final round of interviews. Here, candidates will typically go through five interviews and each interview will focus on a different topic. Hiring managers will coordinate in advance to ensure each interviewer has a specific topic to dig into that won’t significantly overlap with over interviewers.
How To Nail The Amazon Interview: A Practical Guide
Amazon is one of the top tech companies in the world. According to a , Amazon is the second-largest private employer in the United States and stands globally with an employee headcount of 566,000 as of 2018.
Working for a global company that serves millions of customers every day is an exhilarating prospect. Knowing that the code you write could have such a large impact can be quite enticing for many developers.
On top of that, Amazon enjoys many of the same perks that the big tech companies, including Google, Facebook, etc., enjoy. Numerous company benefits including the ability to work remotely and competitive salaries, among others are some of the reasons that may compel you to throw your hat into the ring.
If you are intrigued by what Amazon is offering, then youll need to be able to jump the Amazon Interview hurdle. Mastering this interview is the barrier that stands before you and working for one of the largest and most prestigious tech companies.
In this post, we are going to be outlining how to prepare for the Amazon technical interview. We will be highlighting some of the key differentiating factors for Amazon and how these compare to other, more standard technical interviews.
In this post, I will cover:
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What Is Amazon Looking For In A Candidate
As we mentioned before, learning and demonstrating your adherence to their leadership principles is key to landing your dream job at Amazon. Interviewers are frequently assigned one or multiple leadership principles to focus on per round, meaning that youll encounter them at every stage. There are even reports of interviewers asking candidates to recite each principle from memory.
So its imperative that you prepare at least one practical example from your past that demonstrates each principle. As you may be asked more than one question on a given principle, wed also recommend crafting a few flex stories that you can apply to different principles. More on answer techniques in section 3.
To help you familiarize yourself with the leadership principles, weve listed them below. Dont worry, well dig deeper into each principle and the interview questions that test them in section 2.
Amazons leadership principles:
Now that youve gotten an idea of what to expect in Amazon behavioral interviews, lets jump into some example questions.
Do Understand Amazon’s Quirks And Peculiarities
Stemming from its Leadership Principles, Amazon has accumulated a myriad of cultural quirks and peculiarities. But, of course, the company is aware of this, which is why you are told repeatedly that “Amazon is peculiar” during your first six months in the business.
For example, you won’t find it surprising to learn that Amazon loves its talent to be exceptional problem-solvers. One of its Leadership Principles, Dive Deep, explicitly expects Amazonian Leaders to be able to roll up their sleeves and cut through the sea of details to find solutions to complex problems. However, what would constitute the right solution in many other businesses won’t fly in Amazon.
Amazon has an engineering ethos, which treats problems as defects. In an engineering or manufacturing environment, defects that are not eliminated at the source are passed down the production line. They scale with every unit that leaves the conveyer belt – a horror story for a business that obsesses over customers.
Hence, Amazonians have a culture of root-causing problems and asking themselves, “Why did this problem occur?” several times before they land on the fundamental defect. This way, they ensure that issues are fixed not by patching up symptoms but by repairing root causes at the source.
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How To Nail Amazons Behavioral Interview Questions
It’s no secret that getting a job at the big tech companies is challenging. In a way, interview processes at companies like Google, Facebook, and Amazon are as famous as the companies themselves.
There are countless books geared at giving their readers a leg up on these interviews, such as and
Amazon does things a little differently. Applicants can expect to be asked a set of questions commonly referred to as behavioral interview questions. Amazon puts an enormous emphasis on these questions as they strive to find candidates that will fit in with the company culture – much more so than other FAANG companies like Apple or Facebook, where technical skills are generally assessed more heavily.
“I’d rather interview 50 people and not hire anyone than hire the wrong person.” – Jeff Bezos, Founder and Former CEO, Amazon
Behavioral questions are difficult to improvise on the spot, so it’d be wise to prepare for them ahead of time. This article will allow you to do just that. We’ve included:
- A quick introduction to behavioral interview questions and what they assess.
- The STAR method: A framework for answering behavioral questions effectively.
- A deep-dive into each of the 16 leadership principles Amazon uses to assess candidates.
- 50+ recently-asked Amazon interview questions to practice, and example answer including several mock interview videos.
Before we get down to it, we should probably explain what exactly a behavioral interview question is.
Round : Phone Screen Interview
The Amazon data engineer interview begins with a phone screen interview. In this round, the interviewer introduces you to the company and leadership principles before getting to the more technical interview.
Â· The First Phone Screen
Here, the recruiter takes you through the rudiment of the job role, explaining all the necessary details to familiarize you with the job responsibilities, your prospective team as well as the company at large.
Furthermore, this process also assesses an applicant’s confidence, communication skills, and fluency.
Â· The Technical Phone Screen
At this stage, the interviewer or recruiter will ask you questions about your educational background, experiences, and training projects. You will also need to elaborate on your experience in data warehousing and solving complex SQL queries.
This stage is more or less talk than doing. The interviewer’s aim is to decide if you actually have what it takes to advance to the next stage.
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Intermediate Interview Small Talk Skills: Introducing Topics
The next level of small talk skill is when you don’t answer questions, you ask them. Instead of replying to the interviewer’s conversation starters, you introduce your own.
Prepare a list of questions just in case you need to think of a topic during small talk.
When do you use this list?
Basic small talk skills require you to answer questions. The next level is when there is no question there is just silence. Silence that you have to fill with a conversation starter.
You may have an interviewer who isn’t very talkative, and they may greet you but then not immediately bring up a topic or ask a question. If there is a period of silence before the interview starts, or during the interview in between questions, you should definitely use some small talk.
You can use one of the questions in the list above, but if those are too basic or if you’ve already used them, here’s a list of ideas you can use for small talk in your job interview.
Some of the suggestions for small talk questions are:
How long have you worked at ?
What do you think of ?
Have you had a busy week?
Do you have any plans for Thanksgiving/the weekend/?
So far I’ve talked about how you can
answer small talk questions and also
ask small talk questions
during your interview. If you can do those two things you can handle most small talk situations.
Now you’re ready for the advanced small talk technique the targeted topic.