Your Cheatsheet for the Amazon Interview
Interview coming up? Here are the top Amazon interview questions categorized by Amazon Leadership Principle that you need to be prepared to answer.
These questions are all behavioral interview questions, i.e., “tell me about a time when…” The Amazon interview process is mostly behavioral, with some technical screening depending on your role. In any case, Amazon expects you to spend a good chunk of time preparing for these. We’ve made it easier by providing some of the top interview questions and variations fo questions you can expect to be asked.
You don’t have to have different answers for all of these interview questions, of course. That would be pretty tough! Rather, here’s the best way to prepare:
- Prepare a handful of stories based on the Leadership Principles using the STAR method. These stories can be used, re-used and reframed for each type of question that’s asked.
- Write out these questions and your answers in a google or excel doc (download here).
- Practice these stories with your interview coach who can give you direct feedback and help you refine them!
Regardless of your current job and desired position (individual contributor or management, tech or non-tech), the leadership principles are going to play a critical part in your preparation for the Amazon interview. If you struggle answering any of these questions, this should be your area of focus until you’ve come up with solid answers!
ARE RIGHT, A LOT
- Tell me about a time when you didn’t have enough data to make the right decision. What did you do? What path did you take? Did the decision turn out to be the correct one?
- Tell me about a strategic decision you had to make without clear data or benchmarks. How did you make your final decision? What alternatives did you consider? What were the tradeoffs of each? How did you mitigate risk?
- Tell me about a time when you made a difficult decision with input from many different sources (customers, stakeholders, partner teams, etc.). What was the situation and how did you arrive at your decision? Did the decision turn out to be the correct one? Why or why not?
Bias for Action
- Give me an example of a calculated risk that you have taken where speed was critical. What was the situation and how did you handle it? What steps did you take to mitigate the risk? What was the outcome? Knowing what you know now, would you have done anything differently?
- Tell me about a time when you worked against tight deadlines and didn’t have time to consider all options before making a decision. How much time did you have? What approach did you take? What did you learn from the situation?
- Describe a situation where you made an important business decision without consulting your manager. What was the situation and how did it turn out? Would you have done anything differently?
- Describe a difficult interaction you had with a customer. How did you deal with it? What was the outcome? How would you handle it differently?
- Tell me about a time when you went above and beyond for a customer. Why did you do it? How did the customer respond? What was the outcome?
- Give me an example of when you were able to anticipate a customer need with a solution/product they didn’t know they needed/wanted yet. How did you know they needed this? How did they respond?
- Give me an example of a time when you were able to deliver an important project under a tight deadline. What sacrifices did you have to make to meet the deadline? How did they impact the final deliverable? What was the final outcome?
- Tell me about a time when you had significant, unanticipated obstacles to overcome in achieving a key goal. What was the obstacle? Were you eventually successful? Knowing what you know now, is there anything you would have done differently?
- Tell me about a time when you not only met a goal but considerably exceeded expectations. How were you able to do it? What challenges did you have to overcome?
- Tell me about a time when you were trying to understand a complex problem on your team and you had to dig into the details to figure it out. Who did you talk with or where did you have to look to find the most valuable information? How did you use that information to help solve the problem?
- Tell me about a situation that required you to dig deep to get to the root cause. How did you know you were focusing on the right things? What was the outcome? Would you have done anything differently?
- Tell me about a problem you had to solve that required in-depth thought and analysis. How did you know you were focusing on the right things? What was the outcome? Would you have done anything differently?
- Tell me about a time when you had to communicate a change in direction that you anticipated people would have concerns with. What did you do to understand the concerns and mitigate them? Were there any changes you made along the way after hearing these concerns? How did you handle questions and/or resistance? Were you able to get people comfortable with the change?
- Give me an example of a tough or critical piece of feedback you received. What was it and what did you do about it?
- Describe a time when you needed to influence a peer who had a differing opinion about a shared goal. What did you do? What was the outcome?
- Give me an example of how you have helped save costs or eliminate waste within your role or organization. What was the situation? What was the impact?
- Describe a time when you had to get a project or initiative completed with limited resources. How did you approach the situation? What was the impact? Knowing what you know now, would you have done anything differently?
- Tell me about a time when you didn’t have enough resources to do something you felt was important but found a creative way to get it done anyway. What was the situation? What other options did you consider? How did you decide on a path forward? What was the outcome?
Have a Backbone; Disagree and Commit
- Tell me about a time when you strongly disagreed with your manager or peer on something you considered very important to the business. What was it and how did you handle it? Knowing what you know now, would you do anything differently?
- Describe a time when you took an unpopular stance in a meeting with peers and your leader. What was it? Why did you feel strongly about it? What did you do? What was the outcome?
- Often, we must make decisions as a group. Give me an example of a time you committed to a group decision even though you disagreed. What factors led you to commit to the decision? Would you make the same decision now?
Hire and Develop the Best
- Tell me about a time when you helped one of your team members develop their career. How did you help that team member? What was the result?
- Tell me about a time when you invested in an employee’s development. What did you invest in and why? What was the outcome? Can you share an example where investing in an employee’s development didn’t work out?
- Give me an example of a time you provided feedback to develop the strengths of someone on your team. Were you able to positively impact their performance?
Insist on the Highest Standards
- Describe a time when you refused to compromise your standards around quality/customer service, etc. Who was your customer? What was the result?
- Tell me about a time when you were unsatisfied with the status quo. What did you do to change it? What was the impact? Would you do anything differently in the future?
- Tell me about a time when you worked to improve the quality of a product / service / solution that was already getting good customer feedback. Why did you think it needed improvement? How did customers react?
Invent and Simplify
- Give me an example of a complex problem you solved with a simple solution. What made the problem complex? How do you know your solution addressed the problem?
- Describe the most innovative thing you’ve done and why you thought it was innovative. Ask for one or two more examples to see if it’s a pattern of innovative thinking. What was the problem it was solving? What was innovative about it?
- Tell me about a time when you were able to make something simpler for customers. What drove you to implement this change? What was the impact?
Learn and Be Curious
- Tell me about a time when you realized you needed a deeper level of subject matter expertise to do your job well. What ****did you do about it? What was the outcome? Is there anything you would have done differently?
- Describe a time when you took on work outside of your comfort area. How did you identify what you needed to learn to be successful? How did you go about building expertise to meet your goal? Did you meet your goal?
- Tell me about a time when you didn’t know what to do next or how to solve a challenging problem. How do you learn what you don’t know? What were the options you considered? How did you decide the best path forward? What was the outcome?
- Tell me about a time when you took on something significant outside your area of responsibility. Why was it important? What was the outcome? Describe a time when you didn’t think you were going to meet a commitment you promised. How did you identify the risk and communicate it to stakeholders? Is there anything you would do differently?Give me an example of an initiative you undertook because you saw that it could benefit the whole company or your customers, but wasn’t within any group’s individual responsibility so nothing was being done.
- Tell me about time when you were working on an initiative or goal and saw an opportunity to do something much bigger or better than the initial focus. Did you take that opportunity? Why or why not? What was the outcome?
- Give me an example of how you have changed the direction or view of a specific function/department and helped them embrace a new way of thinking. Why was a change needed? What was the outcome?
- Give me an example of a time you proposed a novel approach to a problem. What was the problem and why did it require a novel approach? Was your approach successful?
Bonus: More Real Questions from Amazon Interviews
- Tell the story of the last time you had to apologize to someone.
- A customer tries to convince you that a crow is white. (crows are black). What do you tell him?
- How would you improve Amazon’s website?
- You have 30 people working under you with working indirectly. Each employee can do 150 units/hour. Each work day has two 15 min breaks and one 30 min lunch. In a 5 day work week, how many total units can you complete?
- What is the most difficult situation you have ever faced in your life? How did you handle it?
- How would you tell a customer what Wi-Fi is?
- Should we sell private label cleaning products?
- Which Amazon leadership principle do you resonate most with?
- How do you calculate lifetime customer value?
- What would be the sample class design for a tic tac toe game? (question for developers)
- What makes you uncomfortable?
- Talk about a time when you had to fire someone or make a very unpopular decision.
- Design a card game.
- What is your favorite service?
- What is the difference between customer service and customer obsession?