Looking to land a job at Amazon but don’t know what the process looks like?
I’ve got you covered. In this article, we will look at what goes on in each step of Amazon’s hiring process, two different types of Amazon’s interview questions, and three tips to ace any Amazon interviews. Below are the six steps of the Amazon Interview Process:
Step 1: Pass the resume screening
Step 2: Pass the screening call
Step 3: Pass the Amazon Online Assessments
Step 4: Pass the video interviews
Step 5: Pass the writing test
Step 6: Pass the “Loop” (on-site) interviews
Step 7: Pass the hiring committee reviews and get the offer
7 Steps of The Amazon Recruitment Process
Amazon’s recruitment process consists of six main parts: resume screening, phone screening, hiring manager interview, writing test, loop interviews, and hiring committee reviews. The most difficult and decisive parts of the interview process are phone screenings (1-2 rounds), and on-site interviews (4-5 rounds). These interviews last 45 minutes on average, with overall conversion at around 20%. From start to finish, the interview process took a couple months to complete.
Step 1: Pass the resume screening
The first part of Amazon’s hiring process is resume screening. In this round, recruiters will screen your resume for technical requirements, education, experience,.. to make sure you’re a potential fit.
Although hiring criteria depend on roles and company, the fundamental principles of writing winning resumes at Amazon is almost identical to writing winning consulting resumes. There are three fundamental rules you must apply in your resume:
- Rule #1: Explicitly display the skills and traits that Amazon seeks in candidates. What Amazon looks for in its employees are: leadership ability, analytical problem-solving skills, excellent written and oral communication, “gritty” character, intense curiosity, and humility.
- Rule #2: Write specific, result-oriented, and explicit bullets. When talking about your experiences and achievements, the way to go is through objective information. A good bullet should sound something like:
“Reduce overhead by 20% (or $2MN) for an online news media company by leading a cross-functional team to migrate the client’s finance operations cost centers to a shared-services model.”
- Rule #3: Using professional, structured, and to-the point language implicitly shows screeners that you’re a good communicator. Highlighting your achievements with explicit numbers and good structures also save screening time and leaves a good impression.
Before moving on, I highly recommend you checking out my consulting resume overview and specifically look at the resume examples I corrected to see how these rules can supercharge your resume.
Step 2: Pass the screening call
If you pass the resume screening, an internal recruiter or HR member will contact you for a 45 minutes to 1 hour call. The goal in a screening interview is to assess your communication skills, motivation, work attitude, and personality.
The majority of questions in this round will be career questions. The interviewer will review your resume and ask about your first job to most recent jobs, in chronological order. You should also expect basic fit interview questions, aimed at assessing your fit for the role. Example questions are:
- Why are you interested to work at Amazon?
- How do you imagine a typical day in this job?
- Tell me something about yourself.
- What motivates you in work?
- Which Amazon leadership principle resonates the most with you, and why?
- What do you like the most about Amazon? What do you not like?
Step 3: Pass the Amazon online assessments
Amazon online assessments (OAs)<Link to Amazon Online Assessments article> are collections of pre-interview screening tests given to applicants for both technical and non-technical roles after the screening call round. They are primarily used for internship and new graduate positions, but also sometimes for experienced positions.
Online assessments are highly dependent on job roles. For example, Maintenance Technicians must take the Amazon Maintenance Technician Test, or Software Engineers must take coding tests. There are, however, online assessments commonly required by many job positions, such as the aptitude tests or personality tests (Amazon Workstyle Assessment).
Examples of Amazon common online assessments are:
- Numerical reasoning test
- Verbal reasoning test
- Logical reasoning test
- Amazon workstyle assessment
Examples of role-dependent online assessments are:
- Amazon Maintenance Technician Test: The toughest part of the Amazon Maintenance Technician’s hiring process.
- Amazon Area Manager Assessment (Manager In Operations): The first screening step that any Area Manager and Operations manager candidates must pass.
- Amazon Financial Analyst Excel Test: Advanced Excel assessment and case study preparation for financial analysts.
- Amazon Assessment Test for Warehouse: A behavioral and personality assessment that is a crucial part of the Amazon warehouse & fulfillment assessments.
- Amazon SDE Online Assessments: A set of assessments given to candidates applying for Software Development Engineer positions.
- Amazon MBA Online Assessment – The initial online assessment that any Amazon MBA candidate has to pass.
- Amazon Solutions Architect Assessment: The online assessment given to Solutions Architect and Cloud Support candidates.
Step 4: Pass the videos interviews
After the phone screening, successful candidates will be invited to do subsequent video screens. Often, a hiring manager or a peer of the same level as your role will ask more in-depth questions, mostly behaviour-based, pertaining to your resume, such as “Give me an example of when you had to assume leadership for a team”.
- For technical roles, such as Software Engineering, you should expect coding, algorithm, and data structure questions. Keep your notebook, pen, and laptop ready to tackle basic technical coding challenges that may come up during the interview.
- For non-technical roles, expect case-based, strategy questions related to the role. For example, if you’re a product manager candidate, you might be asked “Should Amazon start targeting e-commerce stores for more reach?” or “Does the pricing of Amazon Prime or Kindle seem too high?”.
Step 5: Pass the writing test
For certain positions, candidates are required to respond to a writing test before moving on to on-site interviews. What’s the purpose of this writing test, then?. Turns out, written communication is a central part of Amazon’s company culture, and they review candidate’s written responses very seriously.
Here’s how the process works. Candidates are given two options and can pick one question to answer. The response must be no longer than 4 pages, and typical responses are about 2 pages. Afterwards, candidates submit their answers over email 1 or 2 days before their on-site interviews.
After submission, Amazon will evaluate your writing response on two criteria: (1) Clarity of thought & expression and (2) organization & structure. Hence, make sure you explain your point clearly and in a structured manner.
Step 6: Pass the “Loop” (on-site) interviews
Once you’ve passed the phone screenings and writing test, you’ll move on to the tough on-site interviews. Amazon’s on-site interviews are known as “Loop”, where you’ll spend a day with 4-6 current staffers, doing 2 to 9 interviews at its Seattle headquarters.
On-site interviews at Amazon can be divided into two main categories: interviews for technical roles and interviews for non-technical roles. Even for non-technical roles, you need to demonstrate your structured thoughts process, and use data/analytic for problem solving. The passing rate for Amazon on-site interviews is 20% (or 1 in 5).
Your interviewers may comprise senior members on your team, a prospective teammate, someone from the hiring team, and a person called “bar raiser.” This person, often a senior with at least 3+ years of experience, is an Amazon employee who was trained to be an interview expert. They are there to literally raise the hiring bar.
Anyone applying for a level 4 or higher position gets a bar raiser if one is available regardless of the position. It’s unlikely you’ll notice who the bar raiser is, however, one important clue is they will emphasize questions regarding Amazon’s leadership principles. They are also typically the last person you interview with onsite.
The bar raiser will pay special attention to the following:
- What questions is the candidate asking?
- Do they see the bigger picture of their role or the product they’ll be working on?
- Do they care about how their role impacts the company?
- Do they show empathy for the user?
Step 7: Pass the hiring committee reviews and get the offer
After the on-site interviews, all of your interviewers will convene in one room to form a hiring committee. Together, they will decide whether you’re hired or not. They will also collectively set your level (which dictates your salary range).
If all is positive, HR will ask for your current and expected salary. Based on this information and the level of the job, they will send you a written offer. Usually, a hiring manager will inform you of the result within one week from your last interview.
If you’ve secured an offer from Amazon, the recruiter will explain the terms to you (salary, work location, hours, etc.). If you choose to negotiate (and you should!), any adjustments would be approved by a separate compensation committee. If everything is cleared, the recruiter will send over the necessary paperwork.
Three Tips to Ace Amazon Interviews
The beginning of every interview at Amazon will involve 15-20 minutes of behavioural questions. Hence, it’s crucial that you present yourself in a consistent, thorough manner. Most importantly, however, you must demonstrate the traits that Amazon looks for in every answer. Below, I’ve summarised three tips to help you ace every fit interview question, keep reading!.
Tip 1: Prepare stories, not questions
For any interview, especially fit interviews, it is best to prepare 3-4 detailed, all-round, refined stories exhibiting all the required attributes (for Amazon, they’re the below “Amazon” traits). This way, you can tune the stories according to the interviewer’s questions in a flexible, consistent manner.
Many candidates make the mistake of preparing on a per-question basis, i.e listing out the possible questions and the corresponding answers/stories. Wrapping your head around inflexible answers can throw you off-balance when an unexpected question comes up. The resulting storytelling style is also somewhat robotic.
Instead, in the Case Interview End-to-End Secrets Program, I teach a story-based approach: select a few stories reflecting your best, all-round self, and develop them in detail.
Tip 2: Explicitly show Amazon traits
To prepare your stories, compare your past experiences with Amazon traits, along with personal values you’re most proud of, and select the stories best reflecting those traits and values. You want to show that your values and experiences perfectly match what recruiters look for.
So what are these famous “Amazon” traits? Amazon is famously known for its 14 Leadership Principles – a set of values that every Amazon employee is expected to live and breath by. To determine whether you exhibit these traits, Amazon primarily uses behavioural questions during interviews. Below are the 4 most important principles:
Amazon is the prime example of a customer-focused company, which makes this principle the most critical one to prepare for. Interviewers will expect you to understand the consequences of every decision on customers’ experience.
E.g. “Tell me a time you said no to a customer request and why?”
Amazon looks for proactive individuals with a sense of responsibility towards everything outside of their work scope. These people act on behalf of the entire company, beyond their own team, and never say “That’s not my job”.
E.g. “Tell me about a time you took ownership of a problem that was not the focus of your organization.”
In business, speed matters, and Amazon prefers to ship quickly. The company values people who can take calculated risks and move things forward, while capable of learning from doing.
E.g. “Tell me about a time you had to make a decision with incomplete information. How did you make it and what was the outcome?”
Amazon looks at leadership in terms of people who know when to challenge decisions, state their convictions, and escalate problems to senior leadership when necessary. You are also expected to know when to move forward despite disagreement.
E.g. “Tell me about a time you had a conflict with your team but decided to go ahead with their proposal.”
Tip 3: Use the Problem-Action-Result framework
As the name suggests, the Problem-Action-Result method, also known as the STAR method, is a technique you can use to clearly demonstrate specific skills/ traits required for a job position. Using this framework instantly makes your answers more structured, logical, easy for listeners to follow, and easy for you to keep track of.
STAR stands for:
- Situation: An event, project, or challenge faced
- Task: Your responsibilities and assignments for the situation
- Action: Steps or procedure taken to relieve or rectify situation
- Result: Results of actions taken
Example: Tell me about a time when you performed well under enormous pressure.
STAR Model Answer:
At my previous job, my coworker suddenly needed to take some time off, and their project was left unfinished and without a manager. My supervisor asked me to take on the project, and with no extension on the deadline, I had days to complete a project that should have taken several weeks.
I requested and was granted reduced weekly goals, which freed up more time to finish the special project. I was also able to delegate several of my weekly goals to other teammates. These reductions allowed me to finish the project on time and with complete accuracy.
My supervisor appreciated my attitude and drive, and I was given several more projects after that, along with an eventual promotion and pay raise.
Amazon Interviews’ Question Types and Examples
Amazon Interview Questions comprises three main types: fit questions, technical questions, and brain-teaser questions. Fit questions may appear in technical interviews, but are mostly asked during fit interviews. Technical questions are strictly limited to technical interviews, and brain-teaser questions may appear in all types of interviews.
Below, I will walk you through (1) what each question type contains and (2) how you can approach each type. I’ll also include some sample questions so you’ll have a rough idea on how to apply the recommended approach.
No.1: Fit Questions
1. What it is:
Fit questions are a type of question aimed at assessing candidates’ suitability for the role they applied for. They are role-dependent, and will be a combination of topics ranging from agile methodology or workflow, teamwork and collaboration, and conflict resolution.
For example, if you’re applying for manager roles, you might be asked the following fit interview questions:
- Amazon is a peculiar company. What is peculiar about you?
- Would you oppose a supervisor who made a decision that goes against corporate policy and is a potential safety issue for one of your employees?
- Tell me about a time you had to overstep management to get your point of view across.
- Tell me about a time when you were leading a group, were assigned a goal, and did not reach it.
- Tell me about a time when you had a group conflict; how did you overcome this conflict?
- How did your actions in a leadership role increase productivity?
- Tell me about a time when you dealt with an employee with poor performance.
- What is your take on leadership?
- What kinds of roles have you had that were leadership roles?
2. How to approach it:
Remember, the main purpose of behavioural questions is to test your fit for the position you’re applying to. Hence, the key is to prepare 3-4 stories gearing towards the specific job requirements (professional experience, attributes, character, etc).
For example, if you’re applying as a software engineer, prepare 3-4 stories about your technical experiences, and don’t forget to include traits that make great software engineers (supreme communication skills, quick learning ability, good team player, etc), in addition to the aforementioned Amazon traits.
To prepare an all-rounded story, read this article for the full guide. Alternatively, follow these three steps:
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- Lay down the content base:
Compare your past experiences with Amazon traits along with personal values you’re most proud of, and select the stories best reflecting those traits and values.
List down as many details of your stories as possible, make sure they follow this structure: Problem, Actions, Result, Lesson.
- Form the story plot:
Trim the unnecessary details, simplify the technical parts to help the listeners understand, then rearrange and dramatize the rest to make your accomplishments really stand out.
Add the Amazon spirit into the mix by emphasizing the relevant traits, telling your stories in a structured way, explaining all your actions, etc.
- Refine your style:
Your style of story-telling should be entertaining for both you and your audience. Take time to practice and find your style – and remember, it should be natural, otherwise you won’t be able to use it in a high-stress, high-stake interview.
Keep in mind that your style should be formal, because it’s a job interview we’re talking about. Don’t do your trademark sarcasms there, it’s not a stand-up comedy session.
No.2: Technical Questions
1. What it is:
Technical questions are exclusively reserved for candidates applying for technical roles, such as Software Engineer, Electrical Engineer, Test Engineer, Network Engineer, to name a few. Coding interview questions often fall into the following categories: Arrays, linked lists, trees, strings, dynamic programming, maths and stats, backtracking, graphs, design, sorting and searching
- Graphs / Trees (46% of questions, most frequent)
- Arrays / Strings (38%)
- Linked lists (10%)
- Search / Sort (2%)
- Stacks / Queues (2%)
- Hash tables (2% of questions, least frequent)
- Example questions and solutions
Below is a comprehensive list of Amazon’s Coding Interview questions, for all aforementioned categories. Solutions are at the end of every problem.
Graphs / Trees (46% of questions, most frequent)
- “Given preorder and inorder traversal of a tree, construct the binary tree.” (Solution)
- “Given a non-empty binary tree, find the maximum path sum. For this problem, a path is defined as any sequence of nodes from some starting node to any node in the tree along the parent-child connections. The path must contain at least one node and does not need to go through the root.” (Solution)
- “Design an algorithm to serialize and deserialize a binary tree. There is no restriction on how your serialization/deserialization algorithm should work. You just need to ensure that a binary tree can be serialized to a string and this string can be deserialized to the original tree structure.” (Solution)
- “Given n nodes labeled from 0 to n-1 and a list of undirected edges (each edge is a pair of nodes), write a function to check whether these edges make up a valid tree.” (Solution)
- “Given a list of airline tickets represented by pairs of departure and arrival airports [from, to], reconstruct the itinerary in order. All of the tickets belong to a man who departs from JFK. Thus, the itinerary must begin with JFK.” (Solution)
- “Given a matrix of integers A with R rows and C columns, find the maximum score of a path starting at [0,0] and ending at [R-1,C-1].” (Solution)
- “There are a total of n courses you have to take, labelled from 0 to n-1. Some courses may have prerequisites, for example, if prerequisites[i] = [ai, bi] this means you must take the course bi before the course ai. Given the total number of courses numCourses and a list of the prerequisite pairs, return the ordering of courses you should take to finish all courses.” (Solution)
Arrays / Strings (38%)
- Given an array of integers nums and an integer target, return indices of the two numbers such that they add up to the target. You may assume that each input would have exactly one solution, and you may not use the same element twice. (Solution)
- Given an array of n integers, are there elements a, b, c in nums such that a + b + c = 0? Find all unique triplets in the array which gives the sum of zero. (Solution)
- Say you have an array for which the ith element is the price of a given stock on day i. If you were only permitted to complete at most one transaction (i.e., buy one and sell one share of the stock), design an algorithm to find the maximum profit. Note that you cannot sell a stock before you buy one. (Solution)
- Given a string s, find the longest palindromic substring in s. You may assume that the maximum length of s is 1000. (Solution)
- Convert a non-negative integer to its english words representation. Given input is guaranteed to be less than 231 – 1. (Solution)
- Given an array of strings products and a string searchWord. We want to design a system that suggests at most three product names from products after each character of searchWord is typed. Suggested products should have a common prefix with the searchWord. If there are more than three products with a common prefix return the three lexicographically minimums products. Return list of lists of the suggested products after each character of searchWord is typed. (Solution)
- Given a paragraph and a list of banned words, return the most frequent word that is not in the list of banned words. It is guaranteed there is at least one word that isn’t banned, and that the answer is unique. Words in the list of banned words are given in lowercase, and free of punctuation. Words in the paragraph are not case sensitive. The answer is in lowercase. (Solution)
Linked lists (10%)
- Given a linked list, reverse the nodes of a linked list k at a time and return its modified list. k is a positive integer and is less than or equal to the length of the linked list. If the number of nodes is not a multiple of k then left-out nodes in the end should remain as it is. (Solution)
- Merge two sorted linked lists and return it as a new sorted list. The new list should be made by splicing together the nodes of the first two lists. (Solution)
- You are given an array of k linked-lists lists, each linked-list is sorted in ascending order. Merge all the linked-lists into one sorted linked-list and return it. (Solution)
- “A linked list is given such that each node contains an additional random pointer which could point to any node in the list or null. Return a deep copy of the list.” (Solution)
- “Given a node from a Circular Linked List which is sorted in ascending order, write a function to insert a value insertVal into the list such that it remains a sorted circular list. The given node can be a reference to any single node in the list, and may not be necessarily the smallest value in the circular list.” (Solution)
Search / Sort (2%)
- Given an array of integers nums, sort the array in ascending order. (Solution)
- Given a 2d grid map of ‘1’s (land) and ‘0’s (water), count the number of islands. An island is surrounded by water and is formed by connecting adjacent lands horizontally or vertically. You may assume all four edges of the grid are all surrounded by water. (Solution)
- Given an array of meeting time intervals consisting of start and end times [[s1,e1],[s2,e2],…] (si < ei), find the minimum number of conference rooms required. (Solution)
- Write an efficient algorithm that searches for a value in an m x n matrix. This matrix has the following properties:  Integers in each row are sorted in ascending from left to right.  Integers in each column are sorted in ascending from top to bottom. (Solution)
Stacks / Queues (2%)
- Design a stack that supports push, pop, top, and retrieving the minimum element in constant time. (Solution)
- Given n non-negative integers representing an elevation map where the width of each bar is 1, compute how much water it is able to trap after raining. (Solution)
Hash tables (2% of questions, least frequent)
- Given a non-empty 2D array grid of 0’s and 1’s, an island is a group of 1’s (representing land) connected 4-directionally (horizontal or vertical.) You may assume all four edges of the grid are surrounded by water. Count the number of distinct islands. An island is considered to be the same as another if and only if one island can be translated (and not rotated or reflected) to equal the other. (Solution)
- Given a non-empty list of words, return the k most frequent elements. Your answer should be sorted by frequency from highest to lowest. If two words have the same frequency, then the word with the lower alphabetical order comes first. (Solution)