For a majority of software engineers, getting hired at Amazon is right on top of their wishlist. This tech giant is one of the biggest employers in the industry and hires for various tech-related roles throughout the year. In 2020, Amazon announced that it was looking for candidates for 33,000 corporate and technology jobs across the US (as reported by CNBC). Needless to say, the competition to be one of the million employees of Amazon is real.
Snagging a coveted role at this FAANG company is challenging, given the rigorous technical rounds and tricky Dive Deep Amazon interview questions. “Dive Deep,” in addition to being one of the key leadership principles of Amazon, is also a parameter on which candidates are assessed.
The hiring managers are keen to know how proficient you are when it comes to getting into the details and using those details to come up with appropriate solutions. Cracking the code of how to answer Amazon dive deep interview questions can set you apart from your competitors and get you exactly where you want to be.
Let's walk you through Amazon deep dive interview questions and share the secret sauce of acing them. In this article, you’ll learn more about:
Amazon is interested in candidates who can demonstrate functional skills and leadership skills. But just acing the coding interview alone is not enough. Regardless of whether you are applying for the role of a software developer, tech lead, or engineering manager, you will need to answer behavioral questions to show your leadership skills.
The questions for behavioral interviews are designed to assess each candidate on specific Amazon leadership principles and understand whether they fit the bill of a leader at Amazon. Amazon leadership principles are 14 principles formulated by Jeff Bezos, which serve as the building blocks of the culture at Amazon. These principles guide how everyone working in the company should act and handle day-to-day affairs. Amazon also believes that hiring candidates who exhibit these leadership principles in their lives will lead the company in the right direction. That's why every candidate should fulfill the “minimum expectation” on all the leadership principles and get an “outstanding” remark on at least one of the principles.
Dive Deep is the 12th Amazon leadership principle; it says:
Leaders operate at all levels, stay connected to the details, audit frequently, and are skeptical when metrics and anecdotes differ. No task is beneath them.
Dive Deep can be interpreted as the natural ability of a leader to stay connected to details and get to the heart of the matter. The questions about the Dive Deep principle help hiring managers assess your ability to get to the root cause of any problem and gauge your decision-making abilities.
Hiring managers at Amazon advise the candidates to approach Amazon Deep Dive interview questions as if they are peeling an onion.
Amazon expects everyone to keep an eye on the work that they are doing and never hesitate to dive right in to figure out what’s not working. So when you are asked a question, you should be able to keep going several levels deeper to highlight interesting details. However, this doesn’t mean that you need to remember every single detail of every challenge you have faced. The idea is to show the interviewer how the leadership principles have guided your work experiences.
It can be a bit tricky to frame such responses. In such cases, the SAR (Situation-Action- Result) method is a great way to answer dive deep Amazon interview questions.
Here’s a quick primer on how you can use the STAR method:
Situation: Think of this as peeling the first layer of the onion. This is the stage where you tell the interviewer about the key details that will help them understand the impact of your actions. In other words, you should highlight the specific issues that prompted you to work towards a solution.
For instance, if you’re going to talk about how you implemented a new system for ensuring better quality control, start with what problem your team was facing with the completed products.
While you want to be as detailed as possible, make sure you keep the details relevant to the rest of the response. You don’t want to come off as someone who digresses a lot by talking about irrelevant information.
Action: Once you have got the interviewer’s attention, time to move on to the next stage. The hiring manager is eager to know what you did to overcome the challenges you have just described. This is a critical part of the response as it will directly reflect your decision-making abilities. Once again, dive into the details to reveal the next layer of the onion. Amazonians are big believers in “trust yet verify,” — so make sure everything you talk about is backed by some concrete data. Vague responses backed without any data will just make you yet another person in the room with an opinion.
Result: Finally, it’s time to peel off the last layer and talk about what you achieved. It’s ideal if you can show direct effect and measurable results you witnessed due to your actions.
Many candidates make the mistake of not talking about the results in detail — a surefire way of losing the interviewer’s attention. Use this opportunity to illustrate and highlight the Amazon leadership principles you applied. For example, if you proactively stepped up and took responsibility to fix an issue, you can talk about how you demonstrated ownership which is one of the leadership principles.
How well you structure the responses to interview questions has a huge bearing on your performance during the behavioral interview. We have put together some common Dive Deep Amazon interview questions and answers that you can use for your prep. Please note that this is only illustrative, and it is important for you to provide more details in your responses.
1. Give me two examples of when you did more than what was required in any job experience.
Pick a project that had a goal and discuss how you took ownership. Explain how you went beyond what was required from you. Follow the STAR method while answering and add enough emphasis on the outcome.
In my previous role, the biggest challenge that I faced on a project was managing my team members efficiently. For a couple of months, I implemented various initiatives, such as holding weekly and daily meetings, setting measurable targets for each individual, and mentoring those who needed my help. This helped my team to exceed the expectations of the customer.
2. Tell me about something that you learned recently in your role.
Your answer should be able to tell the interviewer that you are keen to learn. Whether it is learning a new skill or finding opportunities in the face of a problem, you don’t shy away from stepping out of your comfort zone.
It’s also important to share a true story without embellishments and back it up with facts. The last thing you want is to lie during an interview and get caught.
My team manager told me that I need to brush up on my communication skills to be more effective during meetings with our design team. I took an online course and also reached out to an executive coach. I worked with my coach and supplemented the sessions with my learnings from the course. I was able to spot my weaknesses and work on my skills. During the next review, my team manager agreed that my communication style had improved, and I successfully led meetings.
3. Tell me about a time you had to quickly adjust your work priorities to meet changing demands?
This question is to assess whether the experience taught you something that you can implement in the future when priorities change without notice.
I was working on designing software for the hospitality industry. There were a lot of live server updates to be carried out. The server was also facing a lot of issues as we were using new technology. This resulted in my priorities changing — I had to continuously work with my colleagues on different caching mechanisms while managing other conflicting deadlines. This experience taught me how I should prioritize while working in a fast-paced environment and be more agile to keep delivering results.
4. Describe a time you took the lead on a project and went above and beyond
Try to think of examples that show you can handle challenges arising outside your focus area.
During a recent project, the customer wanted us to add a new feature to the product. The request was beyond the project’s scope, and we hadn’t accounted for extra time in our schedule to design it. However, my supervisors were clear that we couldn’t refuse the request and wanted us to rearrange the schedule. While this resulted in an extra workload for me, and I had to work a couple of hours on several weekends, I took up the challenge. Finally, we completed the project with the new feature, and the client was delighted with the output.
5. What did you do when you needed to motivate a group of individuals or promote collaboration on a particular project?
This question aims to understand how well you work within a team, especially when you are in charge. How you react in stressful situations and motivate others is a reasonably good indicator of your performance.
A member of my team was unable to deliver as expected. I decided to assume the role of a mentor and make a conscious effort to help him thrive in the workplace. I would stop by at his desk for a chat, compliment him on things he did perfectly, and provide constructive feedback. After a couple of months, I noticed that his behavior changed, and he was able to contribute a lot more to the team.
6. Tell me a challenge you had where the best way forward was not clear. How did you decide what to do?
When you answer such a question, you want to show the interviewer that you are not flustered when the solution is not clear, and your opinions are challenged. You are willing to work toward the most efficient solution to overcome the problem while managing conflicts and interpersonal relationships.
At my previous company, I worked on a project for almost two weeks when the client completely overhauled the requirements. At the same time, my supervisor on the project also left the company. I did not have a clear direction about how to move ahead with the project. To face the challenge head-on, I scheduled a call with the representative from the client’s company and discussed our options. Ultimately, I completed the project with the revised requirements, and the client was happy with the work.
7. Give me an example of a time when you failed.
Failing at something is not a sign of weakness. The hiring managers are keen to know whether you learn from your failures and move forward or remain stuck.
When I first started working as a software developer, I would often fall behind schedule due to my procrastination. Even though I wanted to make a great impression, I wasn’t able to. This was also making things harder for the entire team. My supervisor pointed it out on a couple of occasions, and I felt that procrastination was due to my lack of confidence in my skills. Things didn’t go as well as I had hoped, and I was finally let go. I decided to use this as an opportunity. I enrolled in a special certification course and started working as a freelance software developer. My confidence grew, and I was able to overcome my procrastination by strengthening my skills.
8. Give me an example of a time when you showed initiative.
Hiring managers are looking for self-starters. They want to hire someone who can consistently deliver good results with minimal supervision. Answering such a question is an excellent way to show that you can work independently.
At my previous company, keeping track of all the past projects used to be a challenge for the team. Even though we had a cloud-based system, I felt that accessibility was always an issue. I took it upon myself to create a project management system that will make our lives easier. My team members were the happiest of the lot.
9. Tell me about a time when you delegated a project effectively.
The interviewer wants to know that you delegate tasks instead of doing everything on your own. This also shows that you have the ability to lead a team and assign tasks to various team members based on their skillset.
In my current role, I had to form a team to work on a new project. I hand-picked the team members according to their strengths as I knew that some of them had previous experience working on a similar project. Once the team was in place, we had an initial meeting to explain what the client expects from us to my team members. I also reassured them I have faith in their abilities, and I am confident they will deliver as expected.
No matter how many sample questions you practice, you might end up facing a question you’ve never seen before. Therefore, it’s important to develop an approach toward answering these questions. The following tips will come in handy:
Question 1: How long does it take for Amazon to make an offer after the behavioral interview?
Usually, the hiring manager will get back to you within a week of your onsite interviews. However, it may take even longer.
Question 2: What is the most common mistake candidates make while preparing for dive deep questions?
Not learning enough about Amazon or meeting Amazonians is a common mistake. Before you spend hours preparing, make sure that Amazon is the type of company you would like to work for. Be prepared to explain why you have applied for a role at Amazon to the hiring managers/ teams you’ll be meeting with.
Question 3: What is the best way to prepare for Amazon dive deep interviews?
You can write down the responses and schedule mock interviews with your peers. This will strengthen your communication skills and make you sound more confident. If you are keen to take your preparations a notch higher, Interview Kickstart is a great option — you’ll have the unique opportunity to practice mock interviews with actual tech leads and hiring managers from Amazon.
Your tech interview prep is not all about practicing your coding skills. Unless you clear the behavioral interview and answer the dive deep questions, the coveted job with Amazon may remain a pipe dream. Many software engineers pass the technical interview with flying colors but completely fizzle out during the behavioral round.
But here’s the thing — it doesn’t matter if you have been knocked down. What matters is whether you get back up.
So if you need a trustworthy guide to get you interview-ready for FAANG companies, register for our FREE webinar today. Our instructors are hiring managers, hiring committee members, and technical leads from FAANG companies. They provide valuable insights into the interview process to help you feel more confident when facing the real deal. Thousands of our alums are currently working in top tech companies, including Amazon — we can help you network so that you can learn more about your role and what to expect during the interview.
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