Amazon is a giant in the technology landscape and is particularly known for its disruption of several industries through innovation, technology, and scalability. Recognized as one of the most influential brands in the world, Amazon is the biggest internet company by revenue and employs over a million people across the globe.
Amazon hires for multiple technology roles all through the year. Its interests are spread across cloud computing, streaming, e-commerce, aerospace, and AI. The opportunities for engineers are copious at the very least.
However, landing a job at Amazon is quite challenging. In this article, we’ll cover the factors that add to this challenge:
- Amazon sets a very high bar
- Amazon’s technical rounds are rigorous
- Amazon’s behavioral interviews are tricky and challenging
Amazon Sets a Very High Bar
Amazon looks for engineers who have the ability to find solutions to pressing modern-day technological roadblocks. It looks for developers with astute problem-solving skills, who also demonstrate the right attitude, temperament, and behavioral traits.
Here’s what Amazon typically looks for in software developers who apply:
Amazon evaluates engineers based on their knowledge in core data structures, algorithms, and systems design. These are the fundamental aspects against which most tier-1 companies test candidates.
Being good with algorithms and data structures would essentially mean that your problem-solving skills are at par, as the breadth of your knowledge in these facets enable you to solve tricky and complex problems.
Being one of the biggest internet companies in the world, Amazon employs complex distributed systems with massive scalability to reach a billion+ users across the globe.
During the design round of the on-site interview, the interview will test your ability to build scalable systems that are robust and exhibit low latency to accommodate requests of millions of users every second.
Amazon greatly values its culture — it reflects diversity, inclusion, and integrity. Every applicant is assessed against Amazon’s core behavioral principles that exemplify uprightness, mutual respect, collaboration, and healthy association with coworkers.
Even experienced programmers with above-par coding skills can fail to land offers if they fail Amazon’s cultural fit evaluation.
Amazon’s Bar-Raiser Round
Amazon’s interview process has a special “bar-raiser” round where applicants are evaluated by professionals tasked with maintaining a high hiring bar at Amazon by selecting only deserving engineers.
Bar-raisers are third-party employees who aren’t associated in any way with the team you’re interviewing for. They evaluate you on a specific set of criteria, and have the authority to reject you if they feel you aren’t the right fit.
Amazon’s Interview Process Is Rigorous
Amazon’s tech interview typically has 3 rounds for positions across junior development to management. Ideally, you should ensure your prep strategy aligns with the interview round in question to avoid being all over the place.
The initial phone screen
This round typically involves a 20-30min conversation around your skills and experience in general. Remember to fully update your LinkedIn profile and resume before this round. Recruiters in this round ascertain if you are a potentially good fit for the role.
The Amazon coding assignment
The coding assignment essentially involves solving 1-2 coding problems around algorithms and data structures. Recruiters assess your approach to solving the problem and your ability to look at a problem from different solution angles.
The coding assignment is a timed evaluation and usually happens in a shared doc or a coding interview platform.
The Amazon on-site interview
The on-site interview is the final phase that comprises 3 or 4 rounds, usually dependent on the seniority of the position. Managerial interviews tend to focus more on systems design and behavioral rounds while junior positions draw more emphasis on algorithms and data structures. Note that the on-site typically consists of a coding round, a design round, and the behavioral round.
Here's what the Amazon interview requires you to cover:
If you’re looking to give your interview in the near future, here are the areas you should ideally focus on:
i) the coding round
- Sorting Algorithms
- Recursion & Backtracking
- Trees & its Variants
- Linked Lists, Stacks and Queues
- Graphs and its Variants (including Greedy Algorithms)
- Dynamic Programming
ii) the design round
The design interview usually happens over two rounds:
a) The system design round
b) The product design round
Here’s what you’ll need to cover:
- Object Modeling/API Design
- Scalable System
Amazon’s Behavioral Interview Is Tricky And Challenging
Another reason why it’s difficult to land an offer with Amazon is that its behavioral interview is quite challenging.
Engineers applying to positions across the board go through a mandatory behavioral interview where they’re assessed on a bunch of behavioral aspects. The questions are usually around Amazon’s 14 leadership principles that the company values deeply.
A lot of the time, talented engineers who ace the technical rounds fall short in the behavioral interview due to a lack of preparation and not anticipating what to expect.
To get an idea of what to expect at Amazon’s behavioral interview, check out these behavioral interview questions.
Some tips to crack the Amazon technical interview
Below are a few important tips to keep in mind:
- Understand patterns in problems and don’t mug up solutions: Make sure not to mug up solutions. Understand patterns in problems and approach solutions through patterns. That’s the best way to improve your problem-solving skills.
- Think out your approach and reasoning aloud: In the interview, you aren't only given points if you get the solution right. Your approach and the way you think out the solution are extremely valuable too. Hiring managers closely look at your ability to think of solutions from different angles. So make sure you discuss your approach and think out loud.
- Prepare some questions for the recruiter: Asking perceptive questions will tilt the odds in your favor. Make sure to spend some time preparing questions for the recruiter/hiring manager.
- Practice writing code on a white-board: Practicing white-board coding is important particularly for the on-site. It isn’t all that easy and takes practice. So make sure you spend a week or two coding up problems on a whiteboard.
- Practice a good number of coding problems: This is the only way to boost your problem solving skills. You should ideally attempt to practice at least 2 problems a day for 2-3 months before your interview.
- Don’t solve problems in haste in the interview: Remember not to rush it, and refrain from brute-forcing the first approach that comes to your mind.
- Practice mock interviews: Spend enough time practicing mock interviews with technical leads and hiring managers from Amazon. Mocks are a great way to build confidence and get interview-ready.
- Give yourself 2-3 months to prepare: As far as your prep goes, don’t rush it. Give it enough time and stay consistent. Ideally, you should give yourself at least 10-12 weeks if you want to prepare yourself extensively and stand a good chance at acing the Amazon interview.
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