Amazon Interview Questions (With Example Answers)

By Amanda Covaleski - Jun. 23, 2021
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Amazon helps millions of people find everything they need, from kitchen appliances to accessories. As the largest e-commerce retailer, there are opportunities at all levels to help millions of customers find what they need and add it to their homes.

To keep all of their customers satisfied, Amazon employs a vast team of people to help with everything from managing their colossal database to delivering packages on time. No matter what your skill set is, there’s a job for you at Amazon.

This is especially true as people continue to stay indoors and have the world delivered to them. There are more opportunities than ever to get a job with Amazon if you know what to look for and how to impress a recruiter.

We’re going to take a look at how Amazon finds and hires new employees, plus give you some tips on how to navigate the hiring process at the e-commerce giant. Follow our guide, and you’ll be ready for an interview with Amazon in no time.

Interview Process at Amazon

Amazon usually takes a five-step approach to hiring new employees. We’re going to break down the process, so you know what to expect when you get approached by a recruiter. Keep in mind that the process may be different depending on which job you’re applying for.

Technical positions like engineers or software developers might need to take technical tests to prove their skills at some point in the process, but other candidates might not need to take any assessments.

First, a quick note on how to apply for a job at Amazon: while the company does list open positions on their website, Amazon recruiters tend to prefer reaching out to you through networks like LinkedIn.

You might want to do some digging and connect with recruiters on networking sites when applying for a job with Amazon. Often, people who get hired by Amazon are actually approached by the company first, so make sure you’re active on professional sites.

  1. Apply or get contacted. The first step in Amazon’s process is to get in touch with the company. Whether that means you apply for a job posting on their site, or a recruiter reaches out to you, you need to establish contact with the company.

    Be sure to have your updated resume ready for this step since you’ll need it to apply or send over to the recruiter.

  2. Phone interview. The next step is usually a phone screen or a quick phone interview. These are meant to make sure your skills fit the position, and it gives you a chance to make sure the position is what you’re really looking for.

    Be prepared to highlight your skills that are relevant to the job description and give the recruiter your salary expectations if they ask.

    Don’t forget to ask about the next steps so you can send over any additional materials (like references or a portfolio) and have some idea of what the hiring timeline is.

  3. Video interview. If you make it past the phone screen, you’ll be invited to do a video interview and meet more people at the company to talk in-depth about your skills and experience.

    This is when you’ll show off your specific knowledge, like your technical expertise if you applied for a software engineer position or your strategy approaches for a project management job.

  4. Onsite interviews. If you make it past the first two rounds of interviews, you may be invited to an onsite interview at Amazon’s Seattle headquarters. These interviews are typically for corporate jobs, so if you’re looking at a delivery position or something similar, you probably won’t have to travel to Seattle.

    This interview is more of a visit where you get to spend a few days with an Amazon employee whose job is similar to the one you’re applying to. They’ll evaluate you on how you behave, what questions you ask, and how you fit in with the company culture.

  5. Job offer. After you’ve made it through all of Amazon’s steps in the hiring process, your recruiter or the hiring manager will let you know if you got the job. A hiring committee makes the decision and creates the job offer, but you can negotiate terms if you want.

    If you didn’t get the job, don’t worry about it. Amazon always has new jobs opening up, and you can always try again now that you know the hiring process’s ins and outs.

Interview Questions at Amazon

To ace your interview, you should do some research before talking to a recruiter at any stage. Some of the research you’ll want to do is about the questions recruiters commonly ask and the company’s core values.

Knowing both of these things can help you better prepare your answers and relate your responses to Amazon’s values. Here are some of the most common interview questions asked by Amazon interviewers that can come up at any point in the hiring process:

  • Why do you want to work for Amazon?

  • Can you tell me who the CEO of Amazon is?

  • Explain a time when you were given criticism and how you responded.

  • Can you tell me about a time you disagreed with your manager and how you resolved it?

  • What metrics do you consider important for growth?

  • What has been your most difficult experience with a tough customer?

  • Can you give me a quick pitch for [product or service you’ll be working with in the position]?

  • Have you had to take on a project that was outside of your expertise or job description? How did you handle it?

  • Can you tell me about a time you had to make a decision without all of the data or options in front of you?

  • How would you handle a situation where you saw another employee stealing?

  • If one of your colleagues wasn’t contributing their share to your work, how would you handle the situation?

  • Can you tell me about a time you had to abandon a project or change directions midway through your work?

  • Which Amazon leadership principle speaks to you the most?

  • How did you handle the most difficult professional situation in your life?

  • How do you go about persuading people?

  • Tell me about a time you created a poor customer experience and how you fixed it.

  • Can you explain a time when you made a decision you felt ambiguous about?

  • How do you prioritize customer experience?

  • Imagine you’re given conflicting directions from two different managers. How would you approach the situation?

  • Have you dealt with a hostile customer? How did you handle it?

  • What would you do if you saw one of your coworkers being unsafe at work?

  • Explain how you would solve a problem if you were from Mars.

  • What is the worst mistake you ever made, and how did you fix it?

Tips for Interviewing With Amazon

Before getting on the phone or meeting with an interviewer, you should do some prep work and go over these tips.

  • Know the company’s values. Make sure you know what Amazon values and how that will reflect in your job and your work. Get familiar with their leadership principles and find a way to tie those into your interview responses. It will help you stand out as a potential employee who aligns with the company and show you did your research.

  • Update your resume. Having a resume tailored for the job you’re applying for will make you look like the perfect match. It’s also an excellent way to get familiar with the job description and make sure you know what you’re applying for.

  • Know the company culture. Amazon hires based on skills, but company culture fit is just as important in the final decision. Learn more about the company culture and how you could be a great fit and contribute to the work environment.

  • Show your creativity. One thing that sets Amazon recruitment apart is that they’re constantly looking for creative people and pioneers who will bring innovation to the company. No matter what position you’re applying for, highlight your creative and problem-solving skills and how you can be an asset to the company.

  • Get comfortable with the “bar raiser.” Amazon uses a “bar raiser” in their interview process, which is someone who acts as the final say on your candidacy after interviewing you. You should know what their role is and get familiar with them to really wow them. Knowing who to impress will give you an advantage when it comes time to meet them.

  • Practice behavioral questions. Many of Amazon’s most used interview questions are behavioral questions. This means that they’ll ask you questions looking for examples of times you overcame obstacles.

    Doing a little prep and getting answers ready before your interview can help you really wow your interviewer and show up prepared. Think about ways to answer these questions with the STAR method (Situation, Task, Action, Results) to get the most thorough answer possible.

  • Be prepared for a long process. Amazon prides itself on only hiring the best candidates, so get ready to undergo a long process. While the hiring process can be long, it’s a good opportunity to get to know the company, the role, and your potential coworkers.

    Use the interview process to check your interest in the position and the company, so you don’t accept a job you don’t love.

Amazon Leadership Principles

Knowing a company’s values can make your job as an interviewee so much simpler. You’ll know how to frame your answers, which stories to tell, and which soft skills to focus on.

Luckily, Amazon’s leadership principles aren’t hidden away in some archive — they’re publically stated right on their website. We’ll summarize here:

  • Customer obsession. This is the one most people connect with Amazon right away. The company’s approach is to start with satisfying the customer’s needs and gaining their trust, and then working backward from there. In their words — “Although leaders pay attention to competitors, they obsess over customers.”

  • Ownership. Amazon doesn’t like its leaders to feel like they have their domain and that’s all they’re accountable for. They want their leaders to act for the good of the company as well as their team. Short-term gains aren’t worth it if they aren’t also creating or maintaining long-term value.

  • Invent and simplify. An especially good principle to keep in mind for story-telling at your interview, Amazon values those who can either invent whole new processes or make old ones simpler and more streamlined.

  • Be right, a lot. This is both a qualitative and quantitative test of applicants — Amazon wants to hire people with good instincts who make correct decisions the first time around. But, they also want people who work to challenge their preconceived notions. It’s a tricky tightrope to walk, but consider stories from your professional life where you’ve used one or both qualities to great success.

  • Learn and be curious. Amazon likes intrinsically-motivated people. Think about ways you’ve pursued further learning independently to impress your interviewer.

  • Bias for action. This is a company-specific value — speed matters more than careful study of a problem. Acting fast and taking calculated risks are two preferred behaviors in Amazon candidates.

  • Frugality. Hey, you don’t get to be the biggest retailer in the world without focusing on cost. Amazon loves leaders who understand that spending more doesn’t necessarily mean doing more.

Amazon’s other, more straightforward leadership principles include:

  • Hire and develop the best

  • Insist on the highest standards

  • Think big

  • Earn trust

  • Dive deep

  • Have backbone; disagree and commit

  • Deliver results

Example Answers to Amazon Interview Questions

Now that we know the basics of what questions Amazon interviewers like to ask and what sort of principles they value, we can start to answer their questions.

  1. Customer Obsession: Tell me about a time you had a difficult customer.

    In my last job as a customer success manager at ABC Inc., we had a client who was very disappointed with the deluxe package he had purchased from us. We were building a website for his company of roughly 50 employees, and he felt that the features offered weren’t necessary for his project. I asked to speak to relevant department heads to learn more about issues they were having and learned that they just weren’t really aware of all the bells and whistles in the subscription they had.

    I then created presentations for each team, walked them through how we could implement their dream user interface along with all the features they wanted, and got them excited about working on a project they were beginning to fear wouldn’t work. In the end, we got the website built 2 weeks early and 10% under budget, and the company still refers other companies to ABC to this day.

  2. Ownership: Describe a time you’ve seen a project through from inception to completion.

    At my marketing internship with Green Co., I was really excited to be a part of brainstorming sessions with more senior members of the department. At one meeting, I pitched the idea of student-driven user-generated content to naturally boost our traffic on social media platforms. People really loved the idea and my supervisor set me to lead the project.

    After contacting relevant student unions of the few colleges in the area and finding several writers through social media and other local forums, I had assembled a team of 20 some-odd writers. Once they were producing content and sharing it every which way, we saw a tremendous boost in social media traffic. What I didn’t expect was that organic traffic also saw a huge boost, because student unions and other high authority sites were also linking to their students’ articles.

  3. Invent and simplify: Tell me about a time when you’ve created or changed a process to make life simpler for you and your team.

    Managing sales teams in the past, I’ve found an incredible diversity in styles and approaches of sales representatives. While it’s encouraging and instructional to see this creativity in the sales process, it can be a headache when it comes to standardizing sales reports and creating schedules. When I started at my last job, I found that each sales rep (and this was a team of around 30) created their own Google Sheet detailing their calls, conversions, etc., and reported it to the sales manager.

    This was an administrative nightmare, so I simplified things for everyone and made one master spreadsheet, editable by all, that tracked all those same things in one place. This saved me personally about 3 hours of work a week just sorting through files and the sales reps also reported a lot less time spent filling out their individual reports.

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Author

Amanda Covaleski

Amanda is a writer with experience in various industries, including travel, real estate, and career advice. After taking on internships and entry-level jobs, she is familiar with the job search process and landing that crucial first job. Included in her experience is work at an employer/intern matching startup where she marketed an intern database to employers and supported college interns looking for work experience.

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