Amazon Software Development Engineer Interview Preparation

Amazon is a multinational technology company that is an e-commerce platform and an innovation leader in cloud computing, video streaming, and artificial intelligence. It is one of the Big Five FAANG companies of information technology in the U.S., going head-to-head with tech giants like Google, Apple, Microsoft, and Facebook. Given the stakes and the high expectations to live up to, an Amazon Software Development Engineer’s job is challenging and exciting in equal measure! 

If you are preparing for a tech interview, check out our technical interview checklist, interview questions page, and salary negotiation ebook to get interview-ready! Also, read How Hard Is It to Get a Job at Amazon? and How to Get Software Engineering Jobs at Amazon for specific insights and guidance on Amazon tech interviews

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Let’s dive into everything you need to know to prepare for a Software Development Engineer’s interview at Amazon:

  • Amazon Software Development Engineer Roles and Responsibilities 
  • Understanding Amazon's Software Development Engineer Hiring Criteria
  • Amazon Software Development Engineer Salary 
  • Amazon Software Development Engineer Interview Process, Stages, and Timeline 
  • How to Prepare for Amazon Software Development Engineer Interview
  • Amazon SDE Interview Prep — Leverage the Interview Kickstart Advantage 
  • FAQs on Amazon Software Development Engineer Interviews 

Amazon Software Development Engineer Roles and Responsibilities 

Amazon looks for software engineers who believe in the power of innovation. If you like to solve highly complex problems and dream of impacting lives on a global scale with your work, Amazon is the perfect workplace for you. 

Amazon fosters a work culture of learning and curiosity and wants to hire people who want to make the world a better place. 

As an SDE at Amazon, you will be required to: 

  • Build innovative, high-volume, and mission-critical software solutions
  • Shape the vision, definition, roadmap, design, and development of product features
  • Innovate new technologies to deliver game-changing products and services. 
  • Design and implement critical features in front-end, back-end, or full-stack systems. 
  • Understand the requirements of customers and bring a consensus between multiple teams. 
  • Learn new technologies and train new teammates. 

Note: There are 4 levels of Software Development Engineers at Amazon: L4 (SDE I — Entry Level), L5 (SDE II), L6 (SDE III), and L7 (Principal SDE).

Understanding Amazon's Software Development Engineer Hiring Criteria

Amazon has an interesting “raise the bar” criteria for evaluating candidates. For each competency that interviewers test, they ask that you be at least as good as, or better than, the average Amazon SDE. Here are a few competencies that form the basis for hiring at Amazon: 

Technical Competencies: 

  • Coding 
  • Problem-solving 
  • Object-oriented design 
  • Data structures 

 Amazon’s Leadership Principles: 

Amazon places great value in Amazon’s 16 Leadership Principles, and they want to make sure that you embody these principles too: 

  1. Customer Obsession 
  1. Invent and Simplify 
  1. Ownership 
  1. Learn and Be Curious 
  1. Are Right, A Lot 
  1. Hire and Develop the Best 
  1. Think Big 
  1. Insist on the Highest Standards 
  1. Bias for Action 
  1. Earn Trust 
  1. Frugality 
  1. Dive Deep 
  1. Deliver Results 
  1. Have Backbone; Disagree and Commit 
  1. Strive to be Earth's Best Employer 
  1. Success and Scale Bring Broad Responsibility 

 Amazon Software Development Engineer Salary 

According to Levels.fyi, here’s a rundown of the average salary of the four levels of Amazon Software Development Engineers: 

  • L4: $164,000 per year (Entry Level) 
  • L5: $227,000 per year 
  • L6: $328,000 per year 
  • L7: $638,000 (Principal SDE) 

These figures include bonuses ranging from $18,000 - $40,000 per year.  

 To understand all the factors that affect your salary and for top tips on salary negotiation, read The Ultimate Guide to Salary Negotiation at FAANG for Software Engineers. 

Amazon Software Development Engineer Interview Process, Stages, and Timeline 

According to the Amazon Software Development Engineer (SDE) interview timeline, it takes 4-8 weeks for an interview process to complete. We have outlined then explained the main steps of this process: 

  1. Application Process 
  1. Recruiter Call 
  1. Online Assessment 
  1. Phone Screen: 1-2 interviews 
  1. Onsite Interview: 4-6 interviews 

 1. Application Process

Make sure your resume is updated, your cover letter fits the position you are applying for, and that you have a reliable referral. You will also need to fill out an Amazon online application form. 

Amazon has come up with a ‘Best Fit’ application procedure for Software Development Engineer Roles. Through their Best Fit job match, even if you want to apply for multiple opportunities, you need to apply only once. You can choose your preferred job location, work style, team setup, domains, tech stack, and other job variables. Once you pass the online screening, you will be matched to teams according to your preferences.  

 2. Recruiter Call 

If your application is selected, you get a call from a recruiter who will use this conversation to get to know you better and to assess which team you would be the best fit for. 

3. Online Assessment (OA) 

Amazon generally uses online assessments for beginner levels (L4, L5) of Software Engineer roles. They consist of: 

  • OA1: Debugging (7 questions, 20mins) 
  • OA2: Coding questions (2 questions, 70mins) 
  • OA3: Work simulation (2h) and logical reasoning (24 questions, 35mins) 

4. Phone Screen 

The phone screen is usually a video call that takes place over Amazon Chime and lasts for 45-60 minutes. The questions are a mix of technical and behavioral topics. 

Read all the tips and tricks to face phone interviews like a pro here. 

5. Onsite Interviews 

If you pass the phone screen, you are invited to spend a day at an Amazon office for multiple rounds of onsite interviews. These are one-on-one interviews with a hiring manager, peers, or senior executives from the team you are applying for. 

  • Coding Interview: 3-4 of the onsite interviews will involve solving coding problems related to data structures and algorithms on a whiteboard.  
  • System Design Interview: You will be asked to sit in 1-2 system design interviews to assess your ability to design, build, develop, and execute a system architecture.  

Each Amazon Software Development Engineer onsite interview lasts for 45-60 minutes and includes behavioral questions in every round. 

Practice FAANG behavioral questions here.  

 Hiring Decision Process for Amazon Software Development Engineer Interview

This step is called the Debrief. Interviewers make notes in each round and mark candidates as Strong Hire, Hire, No Hire, or Strong No Hire.  

Unlike Facebook, in the Amazon SDE interview process, you have to pass each round to qualify for the next one. Notes about your evaluation are filed after every round. In the debrief, all these notes are combined with the Bar Raiser evaluation to decide whether you are a good fit for Amazon or not. 

We suggest you read How Hard Is It to Get a Job at Amazon? for more insights on the Amazon hiring process. 

How to Prepare for Amazon Software Development Engineer Interview

Invention is in Amazon’s DNA. Amazon believes that technology is a fundamental tool for evolving and improving customer experience. Every action taken in Amazon must prioritize customers. You need to apply this customer-first ideology to the coding, system design, and behavioral questions you answer. 

As for technical interviews, Amazon insists that they do not expect you to memorize all technical topics. What they are looking for is your ability to solve a given problem based on what you already know.  

Pro Tip: If you have less time to prepare, review computer science fundamentals, and practice coding outside an integrated development environment. 

Topics to Prepare for Amazon Software Development Engineer Interview 

Before you dive into the technical topics to prepare for Amazon’s Software Development Engineer interview, you should consult your recruiter about the topics most likely to be discussed in the interview.  

Amazon’s technical interviews typically require candidates to solve coding and system design whiteboarding problems.  

Amazon recommends these topics to prepare for a technical interview

 Read up on more popular technical interview topics here.  

 Amazon Software Development Engineer Interview Questions 

If you want to crack an interview at Amazon, practice is the key. Here are some sample Amazon SDE interview questions to get you started: 

Coding Problems:

  • You are given the root node of a binary tree T. Modify that tree in place, transform it into the mirror image of the initial tree T. (Solution) 
  • Given an array of numbers nums of size n, find an array of numbers products of size n, such that products[i] is the product of all numbers nums[j], where j != i. (Solution) 
  • Write a function that adds two numbers a and b, represented as linked lists of size lenA and lenB, respectively, and returns the sum c in form of a new linked list. (Solution) 
  • Given a binary tree, check if it is a binary search tree (BST). A valid BST does not have to be complete or balanced. (Solution) 
  • Given a linked list, zip it from its two ends in place, using constant extra space. The nodes in the resulting “zipped” linked list should go in this order: first, last, second, second last, and so on. (Solution) 

 System Design:

  • Design a system to find 100 top-selling products in a given time window. 
  • Design an Amazon online bookstore, where users can view prices and make purchases. 
  • Design Amazon.com in such a way that it can handle 10x more traffic than it does today. 

Behavioral Questions:

Read Amazon Behavioral Questions and Amazon Leadership Principles to prepare for this round. 

Also, read Amazon Interview Questions and Amazon Phone Interview Questions for more Amazon interview questions.

 Amazon SDE Interview Prep — Leverage the Interview Kickstart Advantage 

Interview Kickstart is where the best of the best come together to guide you. Hiring Managers and experts from FAANG+ companies at IK provide you with the most relevant insights on how to prepare for an Amazon interview. And if Amazon wants to hire you, we will also help you negotiate the best salary package for you.  

Since 2014, we’ve trained over 6,000 software engineers, with several alums now working for the biggest names in the tech scene. We’re the only tech interview prep coach that offers programs tailored by domain, including data engineering, embedded systems, machine learning, and many more. 

To know more, sign up for our FREE webinar today! 

FAQs on Amazon Software Development Engineer Interviews 

1. What's Amazon's Software Development Engineer interview process, and how do I get started? 

Amazon’s interview process for SDEs looks something like this: 

  1. Application Process 
  1. Recruiter Call 
  1. Online Assessment 
  1. Phone Screen: 1-2 interviews 
  1. Onsite Interview: 4-6 interviews 

 2. At Amazon software engineer interviews, do I need to qualify every round to get an offer? 

Yes, at Amazon tech interviews, you need to pass every round to be able to qualify for the next. 

 3. What is the Amazon “Bar Raiser” interview? 

Amazon’s Bar Raiser interview is conducted by experts to see that for each competency that they test, you are least as good as or better than the average Amazon SDE. It is a crucial step in Amazon’s hiring decision process.

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