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Amazon Interview Process Preparation Guide

Posted on 
November 16, 2022
|
by 
Ashmita Roy

“We believe in building a culture of high standards” — Jeff Bezos

The Amazon interview process for software engineers is one of the most challenging tech interviews. The Amazon hiring process comprises multiple stages, each significant enough to impact the outcome of your interview.To ace the Amazon interview process, it is crucial to adopt a sound preparation strategy that covers coding, systems design, Amazon’s leadership principles, and behavioral questions. 

How hard is it to get a job at Amazon, you may wonder? Well, the acceptance rate is about 2%, with the Amazon interview process only filtering-in the very best coders and programmers. To help you land a job at Amazon, we have put together this ultimate Amazon interview process guide. The guide will cover the Amazon hiring process, commonly-asked Amazon interview questions, and some Amazon interview preparation tips. 

If you are preparing for a tech interview, check out our technical interview checklist, interview questions page, and salary negotiation e-book to get interview-ready!

Having trained over 14,000 software engineers, we know what it takes to crack the most challenging tech interviews. Our alums consistently land offers from FAANG+ companies. The highest ever offer received by an IK alum is a whopping $1.267 Million!

At IK, you get the unique opportunity to learn from expert instructors who are hiring managers and tech leads at Google, Facebook, Apple, and other top Silicon Valley tech companies.

Want to nail your next tech interview? Sign up for our FREE Webinar.

Let’s go ahead and look at the Amazon interview process guide in detail to help you get interview-ready for your next Amazon interview. 

Here's what we’ll cover: 

Before we get into the Amazon interview preparation strategy, let’s understand what it is that Amazon looks for in its candidates.

What is Amazon Looking for in Candidates?

Amazon’s fundamental vision is to become the “Earth’s most customer-centric company.” The Amazon interview process, at every stage, evaluates several attributes in aspiring recruits. 

Here’s what Amazon looks for in candidates -

  • Leadership recruiters at Amazon get to work with some of the best and brightest business leaders. They look for talent that uses data beyond what one would see in KPIs.
  • The organization looks for people who follow Amazon’s values, including ownership and bias for action. The candidates must also think big and have a knack for inventing and simplifying.
  • Amazon wants candidates who can identify problems and come up with innovative solutions. 
  • The company loves to see startup experience and diverse interests and backgrounds. They want candidates who have the curiosity and a self-driven desire to build something new. 
  • Technical Skills such as coding, programming and systems design are key areas that are evaluated. Amazon likes to see candidates who can think deeply about problems and employ diverse solution approaches. 
  • Amazon is known to hire people with a proven track record of delivering customer value
  • Amazon recruiters want candidates who can inspire a vision for their team. 
  • To succeed at Amazon, you should be motivated to learn new things and deliver results.

Now that you’re aware of what Amazon looks for, tuning your interview preparation to be in line with the expectations of Amazon’s hiring process is key. In the following section, we’ll take a look at the Amazon interview process in detail.

The Amazon Interview Process 

The Amazon interview process comprises multiple stages. These stages can vary depending on the position in question. As an aspiring software engineer at Amazon, knowing what to expect at the Amazon interview process is key to tuning your prep and landing that coveted offer. 

Below are the main rounds in the Amazon hiring process. 

Step 1. HR email or call

The first step of the Amazon interview process is when a recruiter contacts you via email, call, or LinkedIn. At this point, they'll ask for your resume. So have one prepared.

Which resume outline should you use? Find out here. 

Step 2. Online assessment

Online or take-home assessments in the Amazon interview process are mostly for internship and new graduate positions. However, Amazon sometimes uses online assessments for experienced job roles as well. The different types of online assessments in the Amazon interview process are:

  1. The first online assessment consists of 5-6 debugging questions. You need to solve them in 20 mins.
  2. The second online assessment consists of 1-2 coding questions. You need to solve them in 70 mins.
  3. The third online assessment has two parts. The first part is work stimulation and usually takes 1-2 hours. The second part is logical reasoning. It has around 10-20 questions that you need to solve in about 30 mins. 

Step 3. Technical Phone screen

The Phone Screen round in the Amazon interview process typically tests your coding and programming abilities. The round lasts about 45 minutes to 1 hour.  A typical phone screening round is where the recruiter will assess your interest and fit for the role. Your ability to approach problems from different solution angles, how you account for big-O complexities, and your ability to write error free code are evaluated. 

The Technical Screen sometimes replaces the online assessment for some positions, especially for senior positions. It is typically a remote round that takes place via Amazon’s remote interviewing tool - Amazon Chime. 

Step 4. Video interviews

If you pass the phone screening round, you'll be invited for a video interview. This interview lasts for about 45 to 60 minutes. It will involve a hiring manager or a peer of the same level as your role. They will ask more in-depth questions about your resume and project experience. 

Amazon interview preparation for this round will involve being able to answer coding and system design questions. You'll also be asked behavioral questions and some questions around Amazon’s leadership principles. You should use this meeting as a chance to learn as much as possible about the nature of your role. 

Check out our piece on How to ace Panel Interviews to understand how to best answer questions asked at Video and Panel interviews.

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Step 5. Final “Loop” Interview

Amazon will invite you for an on-site interview, also known as a “Loop,” once you clear the video interview round. The Loop is the last step in the Amazon interview process. Loop interviews consist of anywhere from two to six rounds covering coding, systems design, Amazon’s leadership principles, past project experience, domain concepts, and more. The number of interviewers depends on the level of the position.

Your interviewers will also comprise a senior member with 5+ years of experience, called a “bar raiser.” A bar raiser is an Amazon employee who is trained to be an interview expert. You will not know who they are. They serve as mediators for bias-free hiring decisions. Their job is to determine whether you will “raise the bar” if you join the organization. 

As such, the bar-raiser round is a critical component in the Amazon interview process. The bar raiser will focus on:

  • The types of questions you ask
  • Whether you fit Amazon’s leadership principles
  • If you see the bigger picture of the product or the role
  • Whether you are customer-centric

The final loop interview is typically the most difficult. We recommend that you prepare yourself for an hour-long intense conversation with some of the brightest minds. The previous rounds in the Amazon interview process can also be exhausting. If you find yourself not feeling 100%, reschedule the loop interview, so you are fully ready to be mentally focused.

Step 6. Hiring meeting

Behind the scenes, a hiring committee decides on an offer or no offer and collectively sets your level (which dictates your salary range). Usually, you will know the result of the Amazon hiring process within one week of finishing the Loop interviews. There’s not much you can do at this stage, but if you haven’t already, definitely send a “thank you” note to the people you have met. 

Step 7. Reference check - How long does the Amazon Background check take?

The Amazon background check generally involves contacting your former employers, mentors, co-workers, and educators. The goal is to obtain information about your knowledge, skills, abilities, and character. 

If you apply for a position above L5 at Amazon, you will have to provide one or two reference checks, sometimes more for senior roles. These checks are conducted by the HR manager or hiring manager over the phone and last about 15-20 minutes.

Step 8. Offer rollout

If you’ve aced your Amazon interview, the recruiter will give you an offer, usually within a day or two of the reference check. However, depending on specific Amazon hiring processes for specific positions, it can take much longer. If you choose to negotiate, a separate compensation committee will approve the adjustments. The recruiter will send over the necessary paperwork if everything is cleared. 

Salary negotiation is a must-have skill to unlock big offers at big companies. Read this guide on how to effectively negotiate your salary to land an offer you deserve.

How Long Does the Amazon Interview Process Take?

The Amazon interview process can take anywhere from three weeks to two months. The Amazon interview process timeline depends on various factors such as the level of the position, everyone’s schedule, etc. This is why it’s important to have a solid Amazon interview preparation strategy in hand that will help you get through the lengthy interview process.

For example, the more senior the position, the longer the process due to the number of interview rounds. Also, it is sometimes challenging to get all hiring managers, VPs, and directors in the same room at the same time to make a decision. 

<h2>How Long Does the Amazon Background Check Take?

The Amazon Background check generally takes about a week. Background checks are performed for all roles, especially technical roles. The purpose of Amazon’s background check is to assess if you’ll be the right fit based on your experience with past employers. 

As a rule of thumb, while going through the Amazon interview process, make sure to decide who you want your referrals to be. Also, get a recommendation letter from your previous employer. This will boost your chances of getting hired. 

Amazon Interview Questions

To help you strategically plan your Amazon interview preparation, let's break down the main components of the Amazon interview process, the type of Amazon interview questions to expect, and how to prepare.

Amazon Interview Questions on Systems Design 

Amazon builds scalable, reliable, cost-optimal, and performant systems, and system design is an integral aspect of them all. Millions use Amazon’s distributed systems and platforms. Hence, Amazon focuses more on system design questions. 

Candidates with at least three or four years of software engineering experience must prepare for system design questions if they want to land a job at Amazon. To nail the Amazon interview preparation for these questions, practice web-based components, such as the design of an online store or a URL shortener.

Read Amazon System Design Interview Questions to get an idea of what questions you can expect.

Amazon Behavioral Interview Questions

Throughout the interview process, Amazon tests whether you are a good cultural fit. Your work style and values will be assessed through what is called “Work Style Assessments” and “Work Sample Simulation.” Let’s take a look at the Amazon interview preparation tips for these behavioral questions:

  • Work Style Assessment: These are approximately 10-20 minutes long, centered around Amazon’s culture and leadership principles. Here, the company wants to understand your work style, and you help them do that by selecting statements that best represent your choices and interests and your approach to everyday tasks.
  • Work Sample Simulation: These simulations can take anywhere between 20 minutes to an hour to complete and require you to demonstrate your problem-solving, prioritization, and interpersonal skills. Depending on the role, the tasks might involve interpreting data from charts, answering customer questions, resolving issues, and more.

Some popular Amazon behavioral questions are:

  1. Tell me about an instance when the path forward was not clear. What decisions did you take to move ahead?
  2. Tell me about a time that you tried to accomplish something but failed. What were your learnings from the entire situation?
  3. What were some occasions when you showed initiative?
  4. Tell me about a time you motivated others — either your team or your colleagues/peers.
  5. Give me some details about when you had to delegate projects effectively. What were the strategies used, and how did you manage conflicts?
  6. Have there been instances when you coached someone?
  7. Tell me of a time when you adopted fact-finding and research skills to solve a problem.
  8. What excites you about Amazon, and why do you want to work here?
  9. What do you expect to learn by working at Amazon?

Take a look at some more Amazon Behavioral Interview Questions for interview preparation.

Amazon’s Leadership Principles 

For Amazon tech interview preparation, make sure you know Amazon’s leadership principles inside-out. You can easily find these on Amazon’s career page. 

Amazon gives significant importance to Leadership Principles throughout the interview. The company has a strong focus on customer obsession. So go through their leadership principles carefully before your interview and ensure that you showcase these effectively during the course of the interview. 

Amazon Interview Questions — Key Technical Areas 

Once you've mastered the entire interview process and are familiar with the primary components of the interview, the final step in nailing your Amazon interview preparation is to look at the basic topics that will be covered during Amazon interviews.

  • Data Structures: Most of Amazon's work involves storing data and providing access to it in the most efficient ways. Thus, you must be well-versed with how data structures work and compare them based on their usage applications.
  • Databases: As you will be working with a lot of data at Amazon, you need to fetch it from the store and push data for future use. You need to be comfortable with basic Database concepts and their applications in various scenarios.
  • Algorithms: The Amazon interview preparation strategy here is to have a thorough understanding of commonly used algorithms, which is essential to being a great software engineer, and this is what Amazon looks for. We will go over the specific algorithms later. Still, you need to know the runtimes, limitations, and implementation strategies for each algorithm before you head into the interview.
  • Object-Oriented Design: Object-oriented programming is one of the best system design practices to create bug-free code that can extend when needed - making it a highly efficient system. You must have a working knowledge of writing code in an object-oriented manner and some common design patterns.
  • Internet-Related Topics: Being an e-commerce company, Amazon needs software engineers who understand how the world wide web works. Being familiar with the fundamentals of browser functions, DNS, and TCP/IP is yet another essential skill to have.
  • Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence: Amazon is one of the front-runners in the technology space, and being familiar with basic AI-ML concepts and algorithms can set you apart. The key Amazon interview preparation strategy here is to understand how train/test protocols work in data-driven modeling and have an idea of how to deal with any ML problem given to you. Note that ML questions/problems in the Amazon interview process are only asked for ML-related roles.

For a list of sample questions, read Amazon Interview Questions here.

Tips to Ace the Amazon Interview Process 

Getting hired at Amazon is not easy. Here are some Amazon interview preparation tips to get you through the Amazon interview process:

1. Leverage Amazon's Published Resources

Before you start preparing for the coding problems and behavioral interviews, read through Amazon's published advice for in-person interviews. You'll also find good information on their Day One blog and hiring FAQs that will help you in your prep.

2. Don't Interview Before You're Ready

Good preparation acts like a "secret weapon," giving you a massive advantage over your competition during your interview. Always remember — hiring managers want enthusiastic and proactive people in their team who are genuinely interested in working for them.

If you're new to the role of engineering and have no real-world experience, you need to build some experience solving real-world problems first. During the interview, you would have to demonstrate that you not only know things but can apply them to solve problems you have never seen before. 

Your Amazon interview preparation should involve doing some online challenges or contributing to open source projects to practice what you can do and demonstrate. This is a key aspect to acing the Amazon interview process.

3. Network to Get Referrals

Amazon gets so many resume submissions, and nobody has time to go through them all. So just submitting your resume online is probably going to get you ignored. Instead, look for local recruiting events where you can sign up for interviews. You can also search your social networks to see if you know anyone who works at Amazon already. 

If you can submit your resume through an employee referral, it's almost guaranteed to get looked at by a hiring manager. Now, if you don't know anyone, do some research as to who a hiring manager might be. You can ask for an informational interview, where you want to learn about what their team does and what sorts of skills they are looking for. You never know where that might lead. 

4. Use LinkedIn and GitHub

This is one of the most underrated preparation strategies to ace the Amazon interview process. Make it easy for recruiters to find you. Make sure your LinkedIn profile is up to date and compelling. If you have done open source work, make sure they can find yours through GitHub or other means. Publications are also an excellent way to get discovered by recruiters at big tech companies. 

Recommended Reading: Leverage LinkedIn to Unlock FAANG Interviews

5. Practice Thinking on Your Feet

Solving problems on the fly while someone is watching you can be nerve-racking. It's a good idea to practice mock interviews with someone you know first. Odds are, you won't get the same questions, but what's important is being able to tackle them on the fly quickly. 

Your interviewer is often more interested in your thought process as you tackle a given problem than whether you got the correct answer. So be vocal and think your way through each problem at the Amazon interview process. 

6. Understand the Company's Values

As mentioned already, Amazon has a set of leadership principles that are very important to the organization. The Amazon interview process assesses whether you exemplify these principles. As a result, your Amazon interview preparation should center on providing examples of how you have demonstrated these principles in your previous work. 

For example, customer obsession is one of their leadership principles. You can talk about times you solved a problem, thinking about the end user's experience first, and designing a solution with that experience as your primary concern. If you're given an open-ended question, always think about it first from the customer’s standpoint, and you'll be guaranteed to get some bonus points that way. 

Check out these 35 Amazon Leadership Principles Interview Questions to get an idea about what to expect.

7. Use the STAR Format to Answer Behavioral Questions

Amazon may try to determine your expertise in any of their leadership principles. It would be best if your Amazon interview preparation strategy prepares you for all of them. We suggest researching four questions per leadership principle. For each question, write down how you will answer them. 

Draw an outline of the answers in the STAR format: situation, task, action, and result. What was the problem you faced? What did you need to do to resolve it? How did you go about doing so? What was the result? Be honest and keep in mind that recruiters don't mind hearing about your mistakes. In fact, they want to know more about them and understand what you learned from them.

FAQs on Amazon Interview Process

Q1. Are Amazon interviews hard to crack?

The Amazon interview process can be rigorous, but it’s not difficult to crack with the right preparation. Know the interview process beforehand and practice some tech and behavioral mock questions suited to your role.

Q2. What is the Amazon interview process?

The complete Amazon interview process involves the following steps viz. HR email or call, online assessment, phone screening, video interviews, final “Loop” Interview, hiring meeting, reference check and lastly, offer rollout. The Amazon interview process can last anywhere between three weeks and three months. 

Q3. How to prepare for the Amazon interview?

The lengthy interview process at Amazon can make it exhaustive, but with proper preparation, you can nail the interview. Be thorough with the interview process. Practice mock interviews on system design and behavioral skills. Learn to use the STAR (situation, task, action, and result) method to provide solutions to the problems asked in the interview.

Q4. Which questions are asked in the Amazon interview?

The most common Amazon interview questions asked are of system design and behavioral skills. Make sure to practice some mock interview questions on these topics.

Q5. How much do software engineers make at Amazon?

A software engineer salary at Amazon is approximately $163k. That's a $125k base salary with an average bonus of $16k and stock bonus of $22k.

Are You Ready for Your Amazon Interview?

We hope you found this article helpful in getting your prep for Amazon started. The Amazon interview process for software engineers may be challenging, but it is definitely not impossible to crack. 

If you need a guide on this journey, join our FREE technical interview preparation webinar with our co-founder, who will take you through how to nail complex Technical Interviews — the Interview Kickstart way. 

Since its inception in 2014, Interview Kickstart has helped thousands of experienced engineers realize their true calling. We aim to help engineers get better acquainted with the intricacies of their chosen field and provide them with all the guidance they need to clear interviews with tech giants. 

Sign up now to learn more.


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