Be prepared for your interview at Amazon

You've got that interview, what's next ?

March 17, 2019

I am often receiving messages on social media from persons asking me advices how to best prepare for an interview at Amazon. Like always, when I am answering the same question more than 2 or 3 times, I prefer to share my answer with the rest of the world, as it might be useful for others :

First, congratulation ! Your resume has been reviewed by the recruitment team and the hiring manager and they would like to discuss with you over the phone or, in a second phase, to meet you for a face-to-face interview. How can you prepare yourself for these interviews ? Amazon is peculiar in many ways, including in the way we are hiring.

We are looking for people that will fit the specific role you are applying for, but also for people that will fit the Amazon culture. At Amazon, it is normal to move to another role after a couple of years, maybe in a different part of the organisation (retail, music, video, devices, …). For example, during my 6 years tenure at Amazon, I worked in the AWS Training & Certification team, the Alexa team and now the AWS Technical Evangelist team. The Amazonians you will meet during the interviews will ensure that you will feel well in our environment, whatever part of the company you will end up working with in a couple of years. How do we check for the culture fit ?

Like many other companies, Amazon’s values are articulated around a couple of principles, we called them Leadership Principles. Unlike any other company I worked for during my 25+ years in IT in 4 different countries, the Amazon Leadership principles are present every single day, in every single decision we are taking. In some buildings, they are written on walls. Learn about Amazon’s leadership principles here

Interviewers are searching for examples in your recent work life to demonstrate you are already following these principles. Most of our interview questions will start with “Tell me about a time where you …”. For example, when we search for indications that a candidate will think about long term rather than trying to get quick wins, we might ask a question like “Tell me about a time where you took a decision that was counter productive for your short term objectives but that you knew was good in the long run”.

We recommend to structure your answer using the STAR principle : Situation, Tasks, Actions, Results. Start by setting up the stage : “This was 3 years ago when I was working on project XYZ …”. Give enough details to let the interviewer appreciate the complexity of the situation. Then explain what where your objectives (the tasks) and what you did (the actions). Be precise in your answer and describe the decisions or the actions you took, not decisions or actions taken as a team. Avoid using the pronoun “we” and be sure you are using “I” instead. Finish by giving the results or the impact of your actions or decisions. For example, “we released our project on time, it was used by 100k customers the first year and the tool was rated 4.2 on average over 20k customer feedback in that period of time”.

I strongly encourage you to read the “Get prepared” page for in-persons interview, this page contains more details and great advises to prepare yourself.

The recruitment team will contact you after your interview to tell you the outcome. Do not be disappointed if your profile is not a fit for that role. When the response is negative, continue to search for new openings. Globally, we have thousands of open jobs at any moment (see Other roles might focus on different leadership principles or require different level of seniority. So try again, consider a different role or a different city / country. Being declined once is not the end. Many Amazonians, me included, applied to several roles before getting our first job at Amazon. I applied to three different roles over 2 years before receiving a positive answer :-).

For your next interview at Amazon, demonstrate your obsession for customers, be prepared, be yourself and know your subject.