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How to Prepare for the Amazon Onsite Interview in 2 Months

Posted on 
February 20, 2021
Abhishek Som

Amazon’s onsite interview, also known as “The Loop,” is a series of interviews that test your core technical skills. With a success rate of merely 3%, cracking the onsite interview at Amazon can be called anything but a cakewalk. Your chances of cracking the Loop depend a lot on your prep and practice. 

In this article, we’ll discuss all that you need to know about Amazon’s onsite coding interview and how to prepare for it. Here's what this article will cover:

  • The Amazon technical interview process
  • 10 Most important preparation tactics for Amazon onsite interview
  • Amazon onsite interview questions
  • 5 Bonus tips to crack Amazon coding interview
  • How to prepare for Amazon onsite in two months

The Amazon Technical Interview Process

The Amazon technical interview typically consists of 3 main rounds.

  1. Technical Phone Screen Round
  2. Online Coding Assignment
  3. Additional Phone Interview (Applicable for few positions)
  4. Amazon Onsite Interview – The Loop

Technical Phone Screen Round

The technical phone screen is the first step in the process where you’ll be contacted by a member of Amazon’s HR team. You’ll be asked basic questions about your profile and experience, after which the recruiter will fix a date for the remote/online coding assignment.

In the phone screen round, you can also expect a few technical questions on the programming language of your choice and technical aspects about your experience, mostly in relation to the position you’re applying to.

The technical phone screen typically lasts 15 to 30 minutes.

Online Coding Assignment        

The next step in the process is the remote/online coding assignment. The remote coding round is essentially a pre-test to the main interview. You’ll be shortlisted for Amazon onsite interview only after clearing this round.

The remote coding round can last about 90 minutes, where you’re required to solve two or three problems around data structures and algorithms. Questions get increasingly difficult in this round, especially if you’re applying to senior positions. 

Developing your problem-solving skills is key to acing this round. You’ll also be asked to articulate your approach and solution path. The idea is to find the most optimal solution to the problem at hand.  

Choosing the right programming language is key to nailing the remote assignment. Make sure to select a coding language you’re proficient with. Also, expect conceptual questions around the language you’ve chosen. Amazon usually conducts the online coding assignment through a coding-interview platform or a shared document.

Additional Phone Interview

For certain developer positions, you have to go through an additional phone interview round before the actual onsite with a hiring manager or a technical lead. This round is usually conducted to get detailed information on your work experience, skills, and other areas that help the recruiter understand if your profile aligns with the role. 

This round can typically last about 15-20 minutes. You can gain more clarity regarding your prospective job role and about the selection process in this round.

The Amazon Onsite Interview — The Loop

Like most other big tech companies, the Amazon onsite comprises 3 to 4 (sometimes 5 depending on the position) rounds that test your coding skills.

The structure of onsite interviews at Amazon is as follows: 

  • Rounds 1 and 2: The first two rounds cover data structures and algorithms. You’ll most likely be asked to solve a couple of problems on a Whiteboard.
  • Rounds 3 and 4: The next two rounds cover questions around distributed system design. The difficulty of questions asked in system design interviews increases progressively for higher positions.
  • Behavioral round: The onsite also includes a round that tests your behavioral attributes. This round is popularly called the Bar Raiser round. 

The name the Bar Raiser comes from the fact that the interviewer conducting the last round has the power to veto your application if you fail to meet the bar. In this round, you’ll essentially be assessed on Amazon’s 14 Leadership Principles, and your performance in this round will have a telling impact on the outcome of the onsite interview.

In fact, your performance in this round will determine if you’re the right fit or not.

10 Most Important Preparation Tactics for Amazon Onsite Interview

Now that we’ve seen how the technical interview and onsite interview at Amazon look like, the next step is to start preparing to crack them. 

While you do that, here are some crucial tips that’ll help you prepare for your Amazon onsite interview in the right way.

1. Focus on the Important Stuff

While starting, narrow your focus to the important stuff only. Coding interviews involve solving problems around a set bunch of topics and seldom digress from this pattern. The level of difficulty of questions changes with positions; however, the core areas of interest for technical interviews remain pretty much constant across a wide range of technical positions.

For interviews at most tier-1 and FAANG companies, tech interview questions revolve around data structures, system design, and algorithms. This means that there’s a slim chance you’ll be asked questions around your domain. 

Remember, this is true only for technical or coding interviews. For behavioral interviews, although the questions won’t be strictly technical, they’ll be heavily based on your technical experience gained from your previous roles.

So as a thumb rule, quit focusing on the unimportant stuff and stick to what’s important.

Below is the list of technical topics to cover for the Amazon interview:

Data Structures and Algorithms

  • Sorting Algorithms
  • Recursion & Backtracking
  • Strings
  • Trees & its Variants
  • Linked Lists, Stacks, and Queues
  • Graphs and its Variants (including Greedy Algorithms)
  • Dynamic Programming

Systems Design

  • Object Modeling/API Design
  • Concurrency
  • Scalable Systems

2. Build Your Problem-solving Skills

The next thing to keep in mind is to start practicing problems with the objective of improving your problem-solving skills. Avoid mugging up pattern solutions to commonly asked problems — it doesn’t help!

Instead, classify problems based on solution patterns and apply these patterns to solve new problems. The objective of the interviewers in coding interviews is to find the most optimal solution to problems.

3. Practice at Least Two Problems a Day

The fact is that you get better at problem-solving only with practice. Before the onsite, make sure to solve at least 250 problems to give yourself a good chance at cracking the interview. 

Remember, you’ll have to beat stiff competition to come out on top. The more problems you practice, the better your chances of solving them during the actual interviews.  

You can use popular coding platforms to give yourself a wider exposure to problems and solution patterns.

4. Breadth-First, Instead of Depth-First

When solving problems, always adopt a breadth-first approach instead of a depth-first one. 

This is primarily because a breadth-first approach will enable you to think in different directions to solve a problem, helping you come up with the most optimal solution more efficiently.

5. Don’t Neglect Behavioral Interviews

If you want to crack Amazon onsite interview, you just cannot afford to neglect the behavioral interview round. Amazon is particularly known for laying considerable emphasis on behavioral interviews, especially for senior management positions.

Even for software engineering roles, Amazon has a mandatory Bar Raiser round that objectively determines if you satisfy Amazon’s behavioral requirements. Answering questions through the lens of Amazon’s 14 Leadership principles and using the STAR method to answer behavioral questions will stand you in good stead to bag an offer.

6. Practice Mock Interviews

If you are serious about cracking Amazon onsite interviews or, for that matter, interviews at any FAANG company, mock interviews should be an essential component of your prep strategy. Most candidates get this wrong — they look at mocks as a good-to-have additional prep when in fact, it should be an integral part of your prep. 

When practicing mock interviews, remember these two very critical points:

  • Practice mocks with people who can give you the right feedback.
    Practicing with hiring managers and technical leads from FAANG and tier-1 tech companies is the best thing to do. Some resources offer mock interviews but only give you vague non-actionable feedback, which doesn’t help. So go with the right resource and practice the right way.
  • Work on the feedback and practice multiple mock interviews, tracking your improvement with each interview.  

Mock interviews are most beneficial when taken with the right people. At Interview Kickstart, we provide as many as 15 mock interviews to our students with technical experts and actual hiring managers at FAANG companies. In our experience of coaching over 5000 software engineers, mocks have proven to be a game-changer when preparing for interviews at FAANG and other top tech companies.

Related read: To know more about Interview Kickstart’s coding interview prep course, register for our free webinar, where one of our founders will discuss the right prep strategy to crack technical interviews at FAANG.

7. Enroll for the Right Course/Coding Bootcamp

Well, this point is widely understated but extremely important nonetheless. Get help if you need it! A self-paced prep approach doesn’t work for everybody, and it’s hard to benefit from a strategy that doesn’t have measured goals and objectives.

Signing up for the right bootcamp will not only help you crack the Amazon onsite interview but also help you land offers from other tier-1 companies. That’s because the right program will help you ramp up your problem-solving skills and make you a far more confident software professional.

Not to forget, the right bootcamp will also help you optimize your personal brand online, enabling your profile to stand out amid the fierce competition.  

Related read: To know what’s the best way to find the right coding bootcamp for you, head over to this post that walks you through the important points to consider and the steps to follow when comparing your options.

8. Highlight Important Past Projects

Make a note of the most important projects you’ve worked on throughout your professional career and prepare yourself to answer questions around them. 

Recruiters are always keen to learn about your experience and the projects you were a part of — for example, how you went about planning the project, how you handled hiccups that came along the way, and so on.

9. Online Profile

Focus on boosting your brand by optimizing your LinkedIn profile and your CV. LinkedIn’s search algorithms are sensitive to the right keywords in profiles and help recruiters shortlist candidate profiles for positions across the board. By including the right keywords, you can land interviews at FAANG and tier-1 companies without much effort.

As for your CV, make sure it isn’t overly dense. Recruiters like a succinct CV that neatly describes your professional experience and achievements.

10. Stay Motivated Throughout Your Journey

Preparing for the Amazon onsite interview can be challenging and exhausting. To avoid burnout, resort to doing things that keep you motivated. Physical exercise, sports, yoga, and meditation are superb ways to stay on course with vigor.

Amazon Onsite Interview Questions

Let’s now list down a few practice questions that have been repeatedly asked in Amazon onsite interviews in recent years to give you an idea about what to expect in your interview with Amazon.

  1. Write a code to find if the sum of two whole integers is equal to a given value.
  2. Given an array “k,” write a code to find the missing elements in the array.
  3. You’re given two Linked Lists. Write a code to sort and merge the Linked Lists so that the resulting Linked List is also sorted.
  4. For a particular root “r” of a binary tree, write a code to display node values at each level of the binary tree.
  5. For a given binary tree “B,” write a code to determine if the tree is a Binary Search Tree.  
  6. Write a code to find the shortest sequence of strings in a given dictionary of words (World Ladder Problem).
  7. For a given two-dimensional array that is partially filled, write a code to fill the empty cells such that each 3x3 grid has all digits from 1 to 9, exactly one time (Sudoku Problem).
  8. For a given set of elements, “l,” write a code to find their kth permutation.
  9. For a given set of integers “n,” write a program to find all the subsets for the given set.
  10. For a given directed graph “n” with its root node specified, write a program to clone the graph so that it displays the same edges and vertices.

For more problems asked in the Amazon Interview, click here.

5 Bonus Tips to Crack Amazon Onsite Interview

In addition to the previous prep tips, here are some bonus tips to keep in mind:

  1. Have commendable working knowledge in a programming language of your choice. Amazon prefers to conduct interviews in Object-oriented Programming Languages — Python/C++/Java/Ruby. So make sure you’re proficient with any one of them.

  2. It is common to encounter questions around Graphs, Trees, Bridges, Graph Algorithms, and Dynamic Programming. Traversal algorithms are popular in tech interviews, including Depth-First Search and Breadth-First Search. You must also understand how certain Graph algorithms function and apply them to find solutions to complex and tricky problems. Some algorithms to study include Prim, Kruskal, Dijkstra, and Floyd Warshall. Note that you’re also required to know how to calculate space and time complexities for your code.
  1. Amazon lays strong emphasis on Systems Design questions. More so than other tier-1 companies. You’re usually given an abstract system that you’ll have to design.
  1. In Amazon, there is an increased focus on behavioral interviews for mid and senior management (engineering) positions. As such, candidates appearing for any engineering position will have to go through the Bar Raiser round, where they’re tested against Amazon’s 14 Leadership Principles.
  1. Amazon prefers that candidates use the STAR interview technique to answer behavioral questions.

Related read: To know more about STAR technique and answer open-ended behavioral questions, head to this post.

FAQs on Amazon Onsite Interview

As we end this post, we’d like to leave with a few of the most frequently asked questions we’ve received from our students regarding Amazon onsite interviews.

1. Can you prepare for an Amazon onsite interview in 2 months?

Absolutely! Two months is sufficient time to prepare and crack an onsite interview at Amazon, provided you lay the bricks correctly. Instances where experienced software engineers with excellent domain-specific knowledge fail to make the cut aren’t uncommon. Quite frankly, nothing short of the right prep strategy can take you through.

During the two months leading to your interview, your primary focus should be algorithms, data structures, and systems design. Solving numerous problems in these topics will give you more than just a fighting chance to crack the onsite and land the software developer role you aspire for.

While solving problems, try and look at each problem uniquely to understand patterns inherent in them. This is the only way to boost your problem-solving skills and develop the ability to apply pre-existing patterns to solve new problems. 

Remember that all the biggest companies specifically look for problem solvers who can apply their intelligence to find solutions to a wide range of problems in the realms of business processes, technology, and everyday life.

2. How can best utilize the two months leading to an Amazon onsite interview?

Structure the two months into the following sets of days dedicated toward specific objectives:

Days 1–15

  • Master your programming language and start solving basic problems on data structures.
  • Attend tech interview webinars and focus on finding good resources to help you with your prep.

Day 16–40 

  • Start solving at least two problems a day, touching upon important topics such as Graphs, Trees, Bridges, Hash tables, Sorting Algorithms, Graph Algorithms, and Dynamic Programming.
  • Prepare for the system design rounds by dedicating enough time to solving design-related questions.
  • Get active on competitive programming sites to know where you stand.

Day 41–60

  • Practice Mock interviews with the right professionals
  • Revise solution patterns to tricky problems
  • Work on your CV and LinkedIn profile

3. What Makes Amazon Interviews Tough?

Amazon’s interviews are considered to be challenging as compared to other tech companies because of the following factors:

  • They set the bar quite high
  • The technical and coding interview rounds are intense and rigorous
  • The behavioral interviews are tricky and difficult as it requires you to understand Amazon’s 14 Leadership Principles.

Many candidates don’t clear the interviews mainly due to their poor performance in behavioral interviews. All said and done — how hard is it to get hired at Amazon?

Quite hard. But, it is also quite possible to crack Amazon’s onsite and other technical interview rounds with the right prep strategy, approach, and guidance. To know more about Amazon’s interview process, read this post where we discuss it in more detail.

Let’s Get Cracking!

If you’re looking to crack the technical interview round at Amazon, especially the onsite round, this post would be a good starting point for you to gain a sound understanding of what to expect during the interview. The approach and tactics discussed here would help you plan the right prep strategy for you.

If you wish to get professional guidance and mentoring to help you crack onsite interviews at Amazon and other FAANG companies, attend our FREE webinar hosted by the co-founder of Interview Kickstart. Know everything about technical interview preparation for FAANG companies and get all your questions answered.

Here’s wishing you the best!

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