With its mission of being "Earth's most customer-centric company," Amazon is one of the top places to work for in 2021. Even last year, when the entire world grappled with the economic slowdown and revenue loss, Amazon continued to hire and is still hiring. According to studies, the company saw an increase of 63% in job openings for software engineers in 2020.
Amazon employs an extensive interview process with multiple rounds that test aptitude, coding ability, and technical prowess. These rounds are then followed by interviews with the hiring manager and the HR team. This all boils down to Jeff Bezos' ideology of - "I'd rather interview 50 people and not hire anyone than hire the wrong person."
But well, preparation is the key to success. Let's go over everything, one step at a time, and create a checklist that you need to land an Amazon software developer job.
Here's what this article will cover:
- The Amazon Interview Process for Software Engineers
- How to prepare to get a Software Engineering Job at Amazon
- Perks of working as a Software Engineer at Amazon
- A few Important Points to Remember
The Amazon Interview Process for Software Engineers
- Applying at Amazon
Once you find your job of interest at Amazon, click the "Apply Now" button next to the title of the role at the top of the page. Next, follow the directions on your screen. You will be required to create a new profile or log back in if you're a returning candidate. Amazon does not accept cover letters. So ensure that your resume is up to date. Amazon follows federal requirements when it reviews resumes and only contacts candidates the organization wants to learn more about. Unfortunately, the company does not contact every candidate who submits a resume. Hence, to be sure about your job application status, you must log in to your application profile.
- HR email or call
If your resume is shortlisted, a recruiter will contact you via email or call.
- Online Assessment
Online or take-home assessments are mostly for internship and new graduate positions for software engineers. However, Amazon sometimes uses online assessments for experienced job roles as well.
- Phone Screening
This 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. He/she will also ask basic questions about your background and work experience as a software engineer.
- 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. Be prepared to answer coding and system design questions. You'll also be asked behavioral questions and relevant experience you have for the job. You should use this meeting as a chance to learn as much as possible about the job.
- Final “Loop” Interview
Amazon will invite you for an onsite interview, also known as a “Loop”, once you clear the video interview round. Due to the current stay-at-home orders, all loop interviews are conducted virtually. Loop interviews are anywhere from two to nine interview rounds, usually in succession. The number of interviewers depends on the level of the position. For example, a Level 5 (L5) position would have five total interviewers; an L7 would have seven, and so on.
Your interviewers will also comprise a senior member called a “bar raiser.” He/she will be a more senior interviewer and have at least 4+ years of experience. 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 a mediator for a bias-free hiring decision. Their job is to determine whether you will “raise the bar” if you join the organization.
- 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).
- Reference Check
A reference or background check generally involves contacting a candidate's former employers, mentors, co-workers, and educators. The goal is to obtain information about the candidate's 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.
- Offer Rollout
If everything goes well, the recruiter will give you an offer, usually within a day or two of the reference check.
How to Prepare to get a Software Engineering Job at Amazon
- Learn About the Culture at Amazon
The first thing to do before you decide to apply at Amazon is to learn about the culture of the organization. This way, you will know what the company values, how people behave and work together, and how well they function as a team.
Leverage your network and talk to software engineers who work at Amazon or used to work there to understand what the culture is like. Additionally, Amazon has a set of leadership principles that can give you a sense of what to expect.
- Practice Commonly Asked Questions at Amazon
Amazon tests software engineers on coding, system design, and behavior. Hence, you must practice the commonly asked questions at Amazon for software engineers before you decide to go for an actual interview. Always remember - preparation is key!
- Receive Continual Feedback via Mock Interviews
After every few problems/days of practice, you have to do mock interviews. Mock interviews are best done with engineers at top companies, but they can also be done with your friends and fellow seekers. Mocks will help your recall circuitry and give you feedback about where you stand. That will, in turn, either increase your confidence or let you tweak your practice early if required.
- Repeat the Problems
Repetition deepens your understanding of problems and their solutions. Often patterns emerge only after repeating a number of problems. Obviously, repetition also improves recall and gives confidence.
- Don't Look for a Magical Moment of End viz., "I'm ready"
The Thumb rule is to reach about 150 medium to challenging problems as your first milestone. But overall, let mock interviews guide your prep.
- Practice with a Long-Term Goal
Practice with a long-term goal of being a better software engineer. Interview problems will do that for you viz., actually make you a better coder and system-design-er. That will, in turn, make your short-term goal of getting a job at Amazon more realistic and less agonizing.
- Sign up for a Professional Preparation Course
One way to keep your head in the game is to adopt a structured preparation plan for technical interviews. With the right professional preparation course for technical interviews, you can gain access to a team of coaches who are invested in motivating you and upskilling you for success.
As professionals from the tech industry, these coaches and mentors provide the right support to boost your confidence levels as you improve your skill levels.
They also provide guidance and insights into different tech companies' interview processes and how to navigate them based on first-hand experience from having worked at these companies. Knowing you’re more likely to succeed with the right support will keep you strongly motivated while preparing for technical interviews at top tech companies.
Perks of working as a Software Engineer at Amazon
In addition to a starting pay of at least $15 per hour (more than double the federal minimum wage), Amazon offers a range of perks and benefits that support employees and their family members. These comprehensive benefits include:
- Financial Success
Amazon helps its employees build successful futures through industry-leading wages and other compensation plans. In addition to fair pay, Amazon employees have opportunities to participate in 401(k) programs with 50% company match, own Amazon stock, and more.
- Employee Health
Caring for employees’ health and wellness is a priority for Amazon. That’s why it offers medical, prescription drug, dental, and vision coverage to all employees, regardless of their level, tenure, or position. The organization also provides counseling services to its employees, which are available 24/7 and completely confidential. Employees are afforded ample paid time and paid holidays when they want to take time away from work and medical accommodation options that are available for mental and physical health concerns.
- Caring for Families
Amazon recognizes its employees for their work through compensation and valuable benefits for themselves and their families. With many options, employees can choose the most valuable benefits for their personal situation. This includes child and elder care providers. Additionally, Amazon provides its employees free access to a network of more than two million caregivers, including nannies, babysitters, and special-needs caretakers. Employees receive discounts on specific daycare centers and various free resources for parents of children with autism, ADHD, and developmental disabilities. It also offers adoption assistance for qualified domestic and international adoption expenses, including attorney fees, court costs, and travel.
- Parental Leave
Amazon celebrates the growth of its employees’ families through various benefits. It offers up to 20 weeks of leave to birth mothers and six weeks for parents who adopt. The Leave Share program allows employees to give six weeks of paid parental leave to a spouse or partner who isn’t eligible for parental leave from their employer. Its Ramp Back program also provides birth parents eight weeks of partial work hours as they readjust to work schedules as new parents.
A few Important Points to Remember
- Amazon gives significant weightage to its leadership principles throughout the interview process, with a keen focus on customer obsession. Hence, before applying to Amazon as a software engineer, you must go through the company’s leadership principles carefully.
- If you haven’t prepared well or haven’t done enough research about the role and the company, it will become evident during your conversation with the interviewer. Hence, research about what the company is working on at present, what the market scenario is like, or technologies the company is working on currently.
- Interviewers at Amazon are trained not to react to the answers you give. Don’t expect a yes or a no or any kind of acknowledgment from them that if you are heading in the right direction.
- To get a sense of the candidate, hiring managers often look them up online. Hence, it’s imperative you keep all professional information, such as your LinkedIn profile and online work portfolio, updated.
- During an interview, it’s quite probable that the interviewer may ask a very difficult or confusing question. In that case, the natural thing to do is panic. However, if the question is difficult or if the code test looks confusing, try to remain calm and collected. Start by taking a deep breath and reassuring yourself that you can do it. This is an important trait that employers look for in a candidate, i.e., the ability to handle pressure and remain calm and composed in difficult situations.
- Send a thank-you email to your employer for their time and consideration. Feel free to ask questions about the interview that have been lingering on your mind, if any. You could also answer any questions you couldn't answer during the interview.
- If you don’t get the Amazon software engineer job, thank the interviewer for their time and ask for feedback.
- Amazon has a dynamic work culture where hierarchies tend to fade, and each employee is a business owner. Some cultural practices at Amazon seem particularly peculiar, such as the culture of writing—they don’t do PowerPoint presentations. Instead, they write large memos that contain the project goals, approaches to address them, expected outcome, and the next steps. So being able to articulate your thoughts, structure them, and present them on paper is a skill that’s essential to be able to work at Amazon.
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