How to Crack the Amazon Behavioral Interview: With Sample Interview Questions
Behavioral interviews are an integral part of Amazon’s recruitment process. Whether you’re applying for a junior role or a managerial one, you have to go through a mandatory behavioral round, where recruiters evaluate the core attributes of your personality. The main purpose of asking behavioral questions is to understand candidates’ psychological and behavioral traits and assess if they are a good fit for corresponding roles.
Amazon’s behavioral interview is modeled on the company’s 14 leadership principles (spearheaded by Chairman and Founder Jeff Bezos). It is very different from interviews at other FAANG companies, mostly because of its emphasis on diverse leadership principles.
In this article, we’ll look at what to expect at Amazon’s behavioral interview and how you can make a lasting impression.
Here’s what we’ll cover:
- Why do recruiters ask behavioral questions?
- Behavioral interviews at Amazon and the 14 leadership principles
- What type of questions should you prepare for?
- Structuring your answers for the Amazon behavioral interview
- 35 Amazon behavioral interview questions
Why Do Recruiters Ask Behavioral Questions?
At big tech companies, the focus on behavioral interviews has been steadily increasing over the years. That’s primarily because these companies have come to acknowledge the importance of having a workforce that reflects diversity, tolerance, integrity, and ownership.
Recruiters ask behavioral questions to understand how you would react to specific situations in a workplace environment. They also evaluate you against the 14 leadership principles to gauge how well you’d satisfy your role. Moreover, these interviews serve as the perfect sieve to identify candidates with the right attitude.
Behavioral Interviews at Amazon and the 14 Leadership Principles
The idea behind Amazon’s leadership principles is to create a novel model that can be used every day. These principles provide an expedient frame of reference for integrity, ownership, and leadership. Employees at Amazon are urged to use these leadership principles every day — be it while discussing new project ideas or charting an approach to a problem.
Behavioral questions can be asked at any stage of the interview. However, the on-site round has a dedicated behavioral round where your personality and behavioral traits are evaluated.
Below are the 14 leadership principles that are centric to behavioral interviews at Amazon:
- Customer obsession
- Leaders are right, a lot
- Invent and simplify
- Be curious
- Employ the highest standards
- Hire the best and develop them
- Build trust
- Think big
- Have a spine — disagree and commit
- Take calculated risks
- Be frugal
- Dive deep into tasks
- Deliver results
What Type of Questions Should You Prepare Answers For?
In the behavioral interview, you can expect a lot of questions about your past experiences with projects, coworkers, and companies. As a rule of thumb, you should ideally prepare answers to the following types of questions:
- Challenging situations at work, like demanding projects
- Learnings accrued from difficult projects
- Working with cross-functional teams
- Difficult work situations, including conflicts with superiors or colleagues
- Creative approaches that you adopted in the past
Remember that questions like these are asked to gauge if and how you practice Amazon’s leadership principles. So make sure you stitch your answers around them.
Structuring Your Answers for the Amazon Behavioral Interview
Thoroughly preparing for the behavioral interview is an absolute necessity to confidently answer questions and stand out amid the competition. Your answer and the “manner” in which you answer influence your interview’s outcome. What does that mean?
It means that you should structure your answer in a way that the interviewers get all the required details from your answer. You must also make it a point not to overshare! How can you strike the right balance?
Follow the STAR or CAR method — these will help you tackle behavioral interview questions by breaking down the answering format. Let’s look at what each of these methods signifies.
The STAR Method
STAR stands for Situation, Task, Action, and Result. Recruiters recommend that candidates use this method to correctly answer questions around past projects, skills, and experience in general.
Amazon’s behavioral interviews can have a good number of questions around how you dealt with challenging situations in the past and how you overcame them. Deploying the STAR method to answer such questions gives recruiters the right context and understanding of the situation, and most importantly, your learnings and takeaways from it.
Let’s break it down:
- Situation: This part should essentially answer the “When, Where, and Why” of the situation. It should focus on giving recruiters a fair idea of the premise of your answer.
- Task: This part should answer what your role in the situation/circumstance was.
- Action: The “Action” component should describe what the primary action items were and what actions you took. It should aim to give recruiters context about the “What, Who, and How” of the situation. You should also aim to provide the rationale for your actions and what prompted you to take a particular course of action.
- Result: End by talking about what results were delivered by your actions. Also, specify learnings that the project/situation imparted.
The CAR Method
Another method to answer behavioral questions is the CAR method. CAR here stands for Context, Action, and Result.
This method is very similar to the STAR method. In the CAR method, the “Situation” and “Task” aspects of STAR are clubbed to form the “Context.” The CAR method focuses on citing relevant examples from your past experiences and using them as learnings for future experiences.
Examples: Amazon Behavioral Interview Questions
At Amazon, behavioral interviews are an important part of the selection process for positions across the board.
Depending on the role you’re applying to, you’ll be asked questions around specific leadership principles. As such, you can determine which principles are applicable to your role and accordingly prepare answers to questions.
Below are some behavioral questions you can start preparing for:
- Tell us about a time when you faced a problem that had multiple solutions. How did you go about the situation?
- Tell us about a time when you took a calculated risk and failed. What were your learnings from it?
- Tell us about a time when you had to take the lead in a project. How did you fulfill your role?
- Tell us about a time when you had to work with an uncooperative colleague. How did you go about it?
- Tell us about a time when you leveraged massive chunks of data to build a strategy. How did you execute it?
- Tell us about a time when you had to learn new things in a short time to satisfy the requirements of a project?
- Why do you want to work at Amazon? How do you think Amazon will impact your life in the coming years?
- What would be your stand if your supervisor asked you to do something outside the purview of the company’s policy?
- Tell us about a time when you didn’t get along with your superior.
- Tell us about a time when you imparted your learnings from a project to the entire team.
- Tell us about a time when you dealt with a particularly challenging customer. How did you navigate the project?
- Describe a time when you had to make an important decision without adequate data or information. How did you handle it?
- Are you aware of the 14 Amazon Leadership principles? Which of the principles resonates most with you?
- Have you applied any of Amazon’s 14 leadership principles at your workplace before?
- Tell us about a time when you had to take the lead in a project? What were the things you did to make it a successful attempt?
- Tell us about a time when you didn’t receive the feedback you’d expected from a superior. How did you deal with it?
- Have you ever witnessed a coworker stealing a workplace item in the past? What was your reaction to it?
- Have you been in a situation where a coworker needed help but was hesitant to ask for it? What was your approach to the situation? Did you help the coworker out?
- What do you do to keep up your energy and excitement at work?
- Have you been burnt out in the past due to a hectic project? How did you deal with situations that have caused work fatigue?
- Have you missed a deadline for an important and challenging project? How did you go about coping with that?
- Have you faced a situation where your superior or manager was unreasonable and overly demanding? How did you deal with the situation?
- Tell us about how you leverage data to make sound decisions.
- What was the most recent thing that you learned pertaining to your role?
- How do you manage to stay updated with the latest trends and technologies relating to your area of expertise?
- Tell us about a time when you had to apologize to a coworker to make things right. How did that turn out?
- Tell us about a time when you faced a complex, challenging problem but came up with a simple solution.
- Have you ever had to ask for help at work? Tell us how you went about the situation.
- Tell us about a time when your prompt actions considerably impacted customer satisfaction.
- What behavioral characteristics, according to you, will help you succeed at Amazon?
- Tell us about a time when you made short-term sacrifices to achieve long-term results.
- How do you motivate members of your team as a manager?
- Have you gotten involved with a project that had multiple solutions? How did you decide and arrive at the most optimal solution?
- Tell us about a time when you had to make a significantly tough decision without consulting anybody. How did you go about it?
- Has your manager/superior asked you to do something that you disagree with in the past? How did you handle that?
If you’re looking for more behavioral interview questions for interview preparation, check out this comprehensive article on behavioral interview questions for software engineers.
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