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WEBINAR +LIVE Q&A

How To Nail Your Next Tech Interview

Hosted By
Ryan Valles
Founder, Interview Kickstart
Our tried & tested strategy for cracking interviews
How FAANG hiring process works
The 4 areas you must prepare for
How you can accelerate your learnings

Amazon Interview Tips From a FAANG Program Manager

Posted on 
April 6, 2022
|
by 
Team Interview Kickstart

Amazon is one of the world's most popular retailers, and it's no surprise that the company is also one of the most sought-after employers. Amazon is known for its rigorous interview process, designed to identify the best and brightest candidates. 

Amazon evaluates your coding, problem-solving, and design capabilities. If you wish to uplevel your career by cracking Amazon’s technical interview and landing a high-paying offer, this article will give you some insightful Amazon interview tips you need to know.

We’re bringing you these exclusive insights from a FAANG Program Manager. By following these tips, you'll be on your way to landing a job at one of the world's most prestigious companies.

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 13,500 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.

We’ll cover the Amazon interview process in detail, along with Amazon interview tips to succeed in each round.

Here’s what we’ll cover:

Amazon Interview Process 

Before learning about the Amazon interview tips, one must be familiar with the Amazon interview process. Amazon’s interview process consists of multiple interview rounds. The stages may vary depending on the role, but the preparation tips listed for each round can be helpful regardless of the job role or job family.

All the interview stages begin after you fill out your job application and successfully pass the resume review.

Stage 1: The Online Assessment 

The Online Assessment (OA) is the first step in the Amazon interview process. The OA is a technical assessment used mainly for:

  • Software development engineers (SDEs)
  • Software development managers (SDMs)
  • Technical program managers (TPMs)For SDEs:
  • Based on: Purely coding — typically problem-solving, data structures and algorithms questions 
  • Duration: 1.5 hours

SDEs are tested on their ability to write error-free code and solve all test and edge cases. Once complete, an SDE at the company will review the code and decide whether to push the candidate to the recruiter phone screen phase.

For SDMs and TPMs: 

  • Based on: Hypothetical questions on handling interpersonal conflict, building sustainable technical solutions or scalable back-end systems
  • Duration: 5-7+ days 

The SDM and TPM OAs are writing assessments that are requested only before the SDM/TPM is approved and scheduled for an on-site interview, which gives them anywhere between 5-7+ days for completion. Each interviewer reviews the writing assessment before the on-site interview.

Stage 2: The Recruiter Phone Screen

The recruiter phone screen (RPS) is a phone interview where recruiters dive into your job history to ensure you are a good fit for the role. The focus of the RPS is primarily behavioral, which sometimes includes a high-level system design component, depending on the role you’re applying to. 

One of the Amazon interview tips for the RPS round is to know that the recruiters can ask a series of questions about the following:

  • Your resume
  • Behavioral questions targeting one or two leadership principles
  • Designing a hypothetical scalable system (articulate over the phone)

Stage 3: Technical Phone Screen

The technical phone screen (TPS) is a phone interview between you and a technical employee within the job family you are applying to. The position’s hiring manager can also conduct the TPS. 

For SDEs:

Since the TPS is technical, SDEs and other hands-on engineers are asked a coding question on the call and must code via a website so the interviewer can watch the code live during the assessment. 

For SDMs and TPMs:

SDMs, TPMs, and other jobs in the management family will be asked to pick a project they’ve built or worked on, and the interviewer will ask specific and detailed questions about the technical components of the project, such as:

  • What was done
  • What went right
  • What could have been changed
  • How to scale

Stage 4: The On-site Interview

Amazon’s on-site interview has anywhere between 4 to 5 back-to-back interviews with engineers and managers at the company, currently conducted virtually via Amazon Chime. You will receive instructions on how to set up Amazon Chime before the interview. 

For SDEs and other coding-heavy roles:

Each interview will have a technical component and a behavioral component. 

  • On the technical side, SDEs will have interviews dedicated to problem-solving, data structures and algorithms, coding, and system design. 
  • On the behavioral side, SDEs, like all other job families, will have to answer behavioral questions typically around Amazon’s Leadership Principles.

For SDM/TPMs and other management roles:

Interviews will focus heavily on behavioral questions, with one interview round focusing on system design. Behavioral questions will similarly cover all relevant Amazon LPs.

Amazon Interview Tips to Succeed in Technical Rounds

Amazon interviews are notoriously tough, but there are a few things you can do to increase your chances of success.

First, be sure to brush up on your Amazon knowledge. Amazon is constantly evolving, so even if you're familiar with the company, it's important to stay up-to-date on the latest news and products.

Second, be prepared to think on your feet. Amazon interviews often include brainteasers and other unexpected questions, so it's essential to be able to think quickly and creatively.

Finally, don't be afraid to show off your personality. Amazon is known for its unique culture, so try to convey your interests and quirks in the interview. By following these Amazon interview tips, you'll be well-prepared for your technical interview and increase your chances of getting the job.

How to Crack Amazon’s Online Assessment

The best way to succeed for an SDE OA is through practice. Amazon recruiters recommend:

  • Solving medium- to advanced-level problems on HackerRank and Leetcode
  • Brushing up on common data structures in advance 

The brute force solution is an excellent place to start, but it should never be the end of your solution. Instead, try to work through all edge cases to reach the most optimal solution and focus on clean, readable code. 

Crucial Amazon Interview Tip: DO NOT write your code on a different platform and paste it into the code box on the OA, as the system will flag this as cheating. Make sure you type your code directly into the space provided on the OA. 

The best way to succeed in the OA is to ensure your writing is:

  • Clear
  • Concise and to the point
  • Metrics-oriented

Since SDM/TPM roles are writing-heavy, the purpose of the OA is to ensure that your writing style matches Amazon’s standards and clearly represents your ideas for hypothetical situations. Walk through these ideas in an organized fashion, and spend time reading over your answers before submission. 

How to Crack Amazon’s Phone Screen Round

Amazon's phone screen round is one of the most important steps in their interview process. This is your first chance to make a good impression and set yourself apart from the rest of the candidates. Here are some Amazon interview tips to help you crack the phone screen round:

  1. Discuss your experience: Be prepared to speak in detail about all experiences listed on your resume, especially experiences within the last 5-7 years
  2. Amazon leadership principles: Read Amazon’s leadership principles (LPs) in advance and practice responses to behavioral questions around these LPs
  3. Practice system design: Practice some system design exercises by thinking about how you would design the back-end of scalable systems (e.g., the back-end of Facebook or Instagram) and make sure you are familiar with the technologies used to build and scale these systems.
  4. Prepare for management questions: For management roles, be prepared to answer questions about your management style, employee development plans, and questions about hiring and firing. 

Tips to Succeed at Amazon’s Technical Phone Screen

Amazon's technical phone screen can be daunting, but there are some things you can do to increase your chances of success. Let’s find out some of the Amazon interview tips to crack the technical phone screen:

For SDEs and other coding-heavy roles: 

  1. Think out loud: Make sure you walk your interviewer through your thought process as you code so that they understand how you rationalize. Based on this, they may throw out hints or ask more specific questions to guide you in the right direction if you are veering off course. 
  2. Ask questions: Often, interviewers keep their technical questions intentionally ambiguous to see how you gather requirements and clarify the problem. Because of this, make sure you ask as many questions as you need before diving into the problem. That way, you’ll be able to understand better what is being asked of you.  

For SDM/TPMs and other management roles:

  1. Make a list of projects: Go through your resume in advance and select:
  • The most scalable projects you’ve worked on
  • Projects that you are most proud of
  • Projects that had the most significant impact on your company 
  1. Note down key metrics: Ensure that you write down detailed reasoning for the technical decisions you made and all metrics associated with these projects, including:
  • Number of users
  • The dollar value of the project
  1. Prepare for questions about scalability: What considerations you took to ensure your project could scale, or what would you have changed if you had to scale it to 10x or 100x of what it currently is.

Tips for Amazon’s On-site Interview

Amazon's on-site interview process usually consists of five 45-60 minute interviews with various Amazon employees, including Amazon managers, VPs, and Amazon directors.

You can expect a mixture of behavioral, Amazon business cases, and Amazon technical questions. Here are the Amazon interview tips to prepare for your on-site interview:

  1. Gather requirements: For all coding and system design problems, the first step should always be to gather all the problem requirements before moving toward a solution. Again, interviewers often keep questions intentionally ambiguous to see what questions you’ll ask to clarify the problem. So make sure you ask all questions you deem relevant. 
  2. Walk them through your solution: Walk your interviewer through your logic as you begin coding or designing your system. Explain why you’re taking a specific direction or making the decisions you’re currently making so that your interviewer can understand your decision-making process or give you hints to steer you in the right direction. 
  3. Listen for hints and feedback: Interviewers often drop hints if they think you’re not moving in the optimal direction. Listen closely for feedback that might help you answer the question in the best way possible. Not being attentive to feedback may work against you in the interview process. 
  4. Write a clean solution: Ensure your code and design are clean, clear, and understandable. This could mean organizing your whiteboard, writing down variable names, etc. 
  5. Practice common DSAs: Focus your preparation on data structures and algorithms that are most commonly used, as these are more likely to come up in your interview
  6. For system design, think about scale: Amazon is one of the largest companies in the world. Amazon recruiters often look for candidates who can think along the same scale or who have some knowledge about how to scale systems using the most relevant technologies. 

Amazon Interview Tips to Succeed in Behavioral Rounds

Amazon is well-known for its rigorous interview process, which includes behavioral rounds. To increase your chances of success in these rounds, preparation is key. In this section, we'll share some tips to help you shine in your Amazon interview. Let's get started by knowing Amazon’s leadership principles that are asked in the behavioral interview.

What Are the 16 Amazon’s Leadership Principles

Amazon's 16 leadership principles are central to interviewing at Amazon. The company was founded by Jeff Bezos, who formulated the original set of leadership principles that determine what kind of person will make a good fit for his organization - including how they approach leadership roles with integrity and empathy as well as ethical standards in everything the company does.

Here are the 16 Amazon Leadership Principles that you should know:

  1. Ownership
  2. Customer obsession
  3. Leaders are right, a lot
  4. Invent and simplify
  5. Be curious
  6. Employ the highest standards 
  7. Hire the best and develop them
  8. Build trust
  9. Think big
  10. Have a spine — disagree and commit
  11. Take calculated risks
  12. Be frugal
  13. Dive deep into tasks
  14. Deliver results
  15. Strive to be Earth's best employer
  16. Success and scale bring broad responsibility

Quick Tips to Crack Amazon’s Behavioral Interview

For the behavioral component of Amazon’s interviews, the best way to prepare is to: 

  1. Amazon Leadership Principles: Make sure you’ve read through and understood all of Amazon’s LPs. Split up your experiences to best represent or exemplify one or more of these LPs, including any details you have, like data/metrics, roadblocks, strengths, weaknesses, etc.
  2. Use STAR Method: Structure your answer in this STAR (Situation, Task, Action, Result) technique. Explain the situation briefly and the task you took to reach the solution. Describe the actions you had to take and talk about the learnings and difficulties you faced. Lastly, talk about the results you achieved.
  3. Use “I” statements to best represent your role in your projects. Shy away from using “we” statements. 
  4. Be ready for follow-up questions on the technical breadth of your experience – why you made the decisions, what you would do differently, etc.
  5. Do not repeat the same experience more than twice, even with different interviewers. All interviewers are gathering data on you as a candidate based on the experiences you provide. Repeating experiences too often will give the impression that your experience is too limited for the role.

We hope this article will kickstart your Amazon interview prep. Be thorough with the interview process because it will make you feel more at ease during the rounds. Knowing the best Amazon interview tips is a step in the right direction, but the practice is what will lead to success.

FAQs on Amazon Interview Tips

Q1. How to crack the Amazon interview?

To be prepared for an interview at Amazon, you should brush up on coding and distributed systems design. You will also need to know behavioral concepts like the 16 leadership principles they teach their employees there.

Q2. Are Amazon interviews tough to crack?

To get a job at Amazon, you will have some interviews and assessments that are pretty tough. You can practice interviewing for these rounds if you know the Amazon interview process beforehand. Your Amazon interview preparation plan should cover topics in coding, distributed systems design, and behavioral concepts.

Q3. What questions are asked in an Amazon interview?

Amazon interviews can be grueling. But preparing for the types of interview questions asked at an Amazon tech interview can make your interview a lot easier. Questions on Amazon’s 16 leadership principles, behavioral skills, coding, and system design are asked. You’ll also face some job- and company-specific questions.

Q4. How long does it take to prepare for the Amazon interview?

To be successful in the Amazon interview, you should give yourself at least 2 months to prepare. If you want a competitive edge when it comes time for Amazon’s technical interviews, you will need more than just skills in interviews. Your Amazon interview preparation should include learning about their company culture and being thorough with your job-specific skill sets.

Q5. How to answer the “Why do you want to work for Amazon” interview question?

Here’s how you can answer the “Why Amazon” interview question: Firstly, discuss your career and skills and relate them to Amazon’s services. The interviewer would want to know what value you will bring to the company. Secondly, mention the company’s values and culture and express your admiration. Lastly, conclude your answer by relating your experience to one of Amazon’s leadership principles.

Kickstart Your Amazon Tech Interview Prep

At IK, you get the unique opportunity to learn from expert instructors who are tech leads and recruiters at Google, Facebook, Apple, and other top Silicon Valley tech companies. As practitioners, IK instructors know the hiring bar at FAANG+ companies and what it takes to make the cut.

Interview Kickstart has trained over 13,500 engineers to crack the most challenging tech interviews at Tier-1 companies. We can help you too! You'll learn how to nail these interviews from tech leads and hiring managers of top-tier companies. Sign up for our free webinar today to learn more about our programs.

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