Glassdoor is your free inside look at Amazon.com Research Scientist interview questions and advice. All 6 interview reviews posted anonymously by Amazon.com employees and interview candidates.
No Offer – Interviewed in Seattle, WA – Reviewed May 14, 2013
Interview Details –
The process was very long, VERY.
The very first phone interview with HR person was in last December. Questions that I can recalled now are (1) tell me about your research. (2) what is the most interesting project you have done so far, and what is the worst team work experience you have so far. (3) when will you be available. etc. This phone interview was about 30 minutes, not too intense.
The second phone interview was in mid January. a tech one. He gave me a real problem he is solving (or has solved), and asked how I would approach this problem. It was an open research question and hence there is no correct answer. I gave the first answer for the simplified version of that problem and then we went from there, we gradually relaxed some constraints and improved the previous solution. The very last part of this interview was a simple coding question, about array sorting. This phone interview was about 45 minutes long.
The third phone interview was in late Feburary. In fact before they emailed me to arrange this one I thought I was out after the previous phone interview. This is a tech one also, and more about programming part. Questions are about sorting, heap, shortest path algorithm, etc. Basically I needed to explained the algorithm first, and then wrote the code on a website he provided where he can see directly what I am typing. This one was about 45 minutes as well. Questions are not too difficult, but I haven't really implement Dijkstra algorithm so it took me a while to finish it.
The fourth phone interview was in mid March, a tech one as well. He gave me a real problem he is solving now and wanted to know my opinion. This problem is about the operation optimization in amazon fulfillment center. Scheduling, picking, sorting, that kind of stuff. Again this is open research question and there is no correct answer. 45 minutes long as well.
Finally here came the onsite, it was in early April. Because I applied for a research-type job so I was required to give a seminar presentation, which is fine. (But I heard NOT all research job candidates are required to do so, which is weird, I suppose everyone should) After the hour-long presentation the interview sessions started right away. There were two tech ones first, then HR one, and then lunch break (this is a tech one as well), then two other tech ones. Each one was about 30 to 45 minutes, but you don't have to worry about the time, they will control the time. They will keep emphasizing we are almost out of time when you are trying to figure out something. That bothered me A LOT.
You can go to restroom or get something to drink between interview session, but that's basically all the rest you can get. There is no further break between sessions. So it is very exhausting. (presentation + 2 + 1 + lunch + 2, basically non-stop)
I signed NDA and hence I won't mention the details of each session. But basically all the tech sessions were about open research-type questions, probably because of the job I applied. Hence I suggest, for those who are interested in applying for Operations Research related job in amazon, google what they did, what they are doing, and what they plan to do, and think about if there is any research topics related to those. It would help a lot.
There is NO typical programming and algorithm session for me, which may not be standard I think.
The decision came in late April, I did not get the offer, which is quite disappointing, especially after such a long process. It wasn't a pleasant process because firstly it is long, and secondly because I didn't get the offer, but still I learned many things in this process, and helped me a lot in interviewing with other companies.
Oh by the way they paid for everything, flight, hotel, food, as usual.
Interview Question –
Google what they did, what they are doing, and what they plan to do, and think about if there is any research topics related to those. It would help a lot.
By the way, even if you are doing optimization, logistics/transportation/supply chain type of research, still, get some ideas about machine learning, data mining, analytics-type of stuff, it would help. Answer Question
Accepted Offer – Interviewed in Seattle, WA Oct 2012 – Reviewed Oct 13, 2012
Interview Details – A good friend of mine that served on my PhD committee told me about this position. I got so excited, I found several jobs on the Amazon web site and applied for all of them. I bombed the first interview with different group. I was then able to have two interviews for the job. I was invited for an on-site interview. It was probably the most in-depth interview of my career. They asked me about programming, signal processing and other related topics. At first, I wasn't sure if I would get a job offer.
Interview Question – Given a set of strings, find the equivalence classes of permuted strings. This threw me for a loop because it's been a while since I have done string manipulations. View Answer
Negotiation Details – They matched my salary expectations. My wife wanted a little bit more on base salary after seeing the prices of real estate in Seattle. They agreed to increase it a little. They were very easy to contact and negotiate with.
Accepted Offer – Interviewed in Seattle, WA Aug 2012 – Reviewed Oct 10, 2012
Interview Details – Went through 4 Phone Interviews, one with the hiring manager and 3 technical phone screens. After which I was called onsite to their Seattle HQ, where I had another full day of interviews. I signed an NDA, so would not go into details, but all in all the interviews evaluated both my algorithmic/programming skills and math/statistics/machine learning skills. The interviewers posed a lot of real worlds scenarios for me to solve and judged me based on my approach.
Interview Question – The unexpected part was some questions regarding multi variate calculus which I had not expected. Answer Question
Negotiation Details – The Recruiter did not leave much room for negotiation. I liked the offer and accepted it.
No Offer – Interviewed in Seattle, WA Aug 2011 – Reviewed Aug 28, 2012
Interview Details – After review my resume handed by an Amazon employee, they responded quickly to set up a phone interview opportunity. It's a one hour interview with the hiring manager. We went through my resume in 5-10 mins. Then he asked me a classic operations research question: the vehicle routing problem. We know that this problem is NP-hard, then he asked me to spend the rest 40 mins to give him a heuristic algorithm. I didn't get the onsite interview opportunity, unfortunately.
Interview Question – The open question of vehicle routing problem is pretty hard for some one whose research is not focus on this specific area. Answer Question
No Offer – Interviewed in Seattle, WA Mar 2012 – Reviewed May 15, 2012
Interview Details – Usual questions on data structures, algorithms; some questions about my research in machine learning and computer vision ; Some open-ended research questions in machine learning, data mining, information retrieval etc (collaborative filtering, predictive modeling).
Interview Question – Standard Algo question ; kept adding different constraints to make problem progressively more difficult ; very interesting. Answer Question
No Offer – Interviewed in Mar 2012 – Reviewed May 30, 2012
Interview Details –
The process wasn't very efficient. The hiring manager would have preferred to have 1:1 interview, but did not get the full information from the recruiter and was automatically assigned a phone interview.
No feedback is provided after the interview, as a policy in the digital product group. The hiring manager left a very positive impression. The "research scientist" title may be wrong for the position, it's more "algorithm engineer".
Pros: DIY attitude. The compensation was good. People were very friendly. – Full Review `
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