Amazon.com Interview Questions & Reviews
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Software Development Engineer Interview (Positive Experience; Difficult Interview)
I applied through other source and the process took 4 months - interviewed at Amazon.com in May 2013.
Interview Details – Called out of the blue, asked if I'd be interested in interviewing. Still not entirely sure how they got my name. Had first phone interview the next week, asked no personal questions, all technical in nature. Total of 3 phone interviews and an in-person trip out to Seattle.
Took about 4 months start to finish. The people in the in person interview were wonderful. Very smart, laid back, and understanding. Got lunch, small tour of campus, and learned what I'd be doing. Got the offer 2 business days after the in person interview.
Sadly, I signed a NDA and I respect the terms of that. As such, I can't give you any specific questions, but I'll gladly give you the best advice I have.
Phone Interviews :
Phone interviews are sucky by nature. Coordinating a call from west to east coast alone is painful, add the fact that phones just take away the benefits of body language, and just make it harder to hear, and you've got a recipe for disaster. But fear not! Here are some helpful hints, some of which are obvious, some of which are not.
1. Get ready ahead of time. I just mean, get to the area you'll be doing the interview beforehand. I'd recommend an hour or more, just to get your nerves ready. Breathe, get used to the surroundings, and get everything laid out ahead of time. Which brings me to...
2. I know it's a "programming" interview, but for the love of all things good, have a pen and paper ready and at your disposal. Bring a backup pen. Much like a printer, the pen will fail at the worst possible time. You may also need a laptop, as I was asked to do "on the fly" programming. But close anything and everything distracting. Speaking of...
3. Pick a spot where there are no distractions. You'll want your undivided attention on this interview. Don't have BookTweet or FaceSpace or MyGram or that crap open if you have a laptop. And I personally wouldn't pick a public space, you never know when an annoying parent will put their screaming child right beside you.
4. Breathe. Just breathe. Take a moment, stretch, and remember you got this. If you have trouble hearing, don't be afraid to ask again. Don't be afraid to say you don't know. Do as for clarifications, and state assumptions up front. Always re-state the problem as you understand it.
As for the content : For the love of God, know what a time complexity is, and how to determine it for any and all code you write. Know the time complexities of all sorts. Know all data structures, how to use them, and properties of each. (Insertion time, deletion, etc) Generally know what heck you're talking about. But don't talk too much. You don't want silence at any point really, but you certainly don't want to let the interviewer not get a word in. Know graph theory, tree theory, and all the fun stuff associated with more "complex" structures. Understand what your language does behind the scenes, as far as GC and compiling go. Know how your language use internal structures to manage the code/objects you write.
Negotiation Details – As a recent grad, there wasn't much room for negotiation.
Area Manager Interview (Positive Experience; Difficult Interview)
I applied online and the process took 3 weeks - interviewed at Amazon.com in January 2014.
Interview Details – A compilation of all the behavioral questions on this website.
1. Tell me about yourself
4. Why Amazon?
5. How can you translate your skills towards Amazon?
6. What experiences do you have that separate you from the rest?
1. Tell me about a time when you were leading a group, were assigned a goal, and did not reach it
2. Tell me about a time when you had a group conflict and how did you overcome this conflict?
3. How did your actions in a leadership role increase productivity?
4. Tell me about a time when you dealt with an employee with poor performance
5. What is your take on leadership?
6. Tell me about a time when you had a group conflict and how you overcame this conflict?
7. What kind of roles have you done that were leadership roles?
Behavioral Leadership & Safety & Customer Service
1. Tell me about a time when you dealt with ambiguity?
2. How important is safety to you? Rank Customer Service, Quality, Safety
3. Do you go against a supervisor who made a decision that goes against corporate policy and is a potential safety issue for one of your employees
4. How would you handle an employee who showed up to work drunk? (not very relevant)
5. Name a time you had to convince someone to do something they did not want to do
6. Tell me about a situation where you directly impacted customer satisfaction
7. What type of leader are you? Explain your leadership style. What does it mean to be a leader?
8. How do you motivate people?
9. What did you admire most about one of your previous supervisors
1. Tell me about a time you failed and how you handled it?
2. Tell me about an ethical conflict with your boss and how you’ve handled it
3. How do you deal with stress?
4. Have you ever proposed an idea to a superior and were ignored despite knowing that it would produce a positive result? How did you handle it?
5. Explain a time when you had to deal with poor job performance
6. Name a time you screwed up
7. What frustrates you
Continuous Improvement/ Problem Fixing
1. Tell me about a time when you leaned out a process
2. Tell me about a time you had a difficult job to solve
3. Walk me through a different scenario of a process you invented or improved
4. Tell me about a time you attempted to refine a process and failed
5. Give an example of a time when you found a simple solution to a seemingly difficult problem
6. How has your past experiences included lean management, six sigma, kaizen
Interview Question – Tell me about yourself. Don't say something typical View Answers (2)
Software Development Manager Interview (Positive Experience; Difficult Interview)
I applied online and the process took 2 weeks - interviewed at Amazon.com in June 2014.
Interview Details – I had been contacted by a recruiter from Amazon for a job I had applied to about 2 months earlier. She said a new position had opened up and asked if I was still interested. This was for a software development manager.
I had 2 phone screens (1 with the hiring manager, and 1 with a sr. software developer on the team). Nothing too out of the ordinary - some high level architecture questions and some open ended behavioral questions.
I didn't think anything would come from it, but shortly after the second phone screen, they asked if I could fly out to Seattle for in-person interviews (I live right outside of Washington DC). I set that up for the following week (they use a travel agency, so it's pretty straightforward).
The process was very well set up and everyone seemed pretty laid back and professional. The first person I talked for about 30 minutes was an hr manager. He explained that how Amazon interviews is different than most other companies. Instead of bringing in 3 or 4 candidates for a position then picking one, Amazon first wants to know if you're a good fit for the company. If you are, then they try and match you with a position that seems to be the best fit. So they are really hiring you for the company more than the specific position. And he also mentioned (as did a few of the other people I talked to), that it is pretty easy to move around within the company if you want a new or different challenge at some point.
The interview day is fairly intense - I met with 7 different people (1:1). The types of questions were similar to what I had experienced in the phone screens. A lot of behavioral type questions: "tell me about a time a project failed... got behind schedule... how did you handle it". They are really looking for how you deal with various situations. There were also some architecture and systems design questions.
My interview day was on Wednesday and they called the following day to offer my a position. Instead of a software development manager, they liked me for a technical program manager position. After looking at the job description, this really did make a lot of sense (I have managed software teams in the past, but also have a lot of project management experience). So I thought they did a good job of matching me to the right position (I talked a lot about project management processes, client management, planning, etc. during the interviews).
All in all, it was a positive experience. One thing I would have changed was the location of the hotel. The travel agent put me outside of city (This was not Amazon's fault). Not being familiar with Seattle, I didn't realize how inconvenient it would be to get around (and I stayed an extra day after the interview to check out the city). I would strongly recommend that if they offer to fly you out and put you up in a hotel, that you make sure to get a room in downtown Seattle. Minor detail - but worth noting.
Interview Question – There was not one question that stood out as being most difficult. I would say just be very prepared to talk about past projects and give specifics about your past experiences. Answer Question
Negotiation Details – Negotiating the offer as I write this.
Warehouse Associate Interview (Neutral Experience)
Interviewed at Amazon.com
Interview Details – Drug test and background test. There was also a questionare on the computer that had to be done. Human resources will then give you a call and let ypu know when you can come in for orientation.
Interview Question – Nothing really difficult or unexpected View Answer
Senior Marketing Manager Interview (Neutral Experience; Difficult Interview)
I applied through a recruiter and the process took 6+ weeks - interviewed at Amazon.com in July 2014.
Interview Details – Was contacted by recruiter. Took some time but eventually had phone screen with Hiring Manager. Standard behavioral questions along with some questions about Amazon products. Then had second phone screen a week later with another senior marketing leader there, similar questions but was also asked a mini case about an actual amazon situation and how I would approach it, they were looking to see my thought process. After that was contacted a week later by recruiter about going to Seattle for final round interview. Several weeks later went to Seattle for final round interview. Had 6 30-40 minute interviews, mix of behavioral and a couple mini cases in areas of marketing. Took another week to hear back, did not get offer, they did not provide feedback. Not sure if bar raiser was the issue or not. Disappointed I didn't get feedback and also along the way of the whole process was handed off to a different HR person at each stage, not sure if that is normal or not.
Interview Question – What would you do if customers were complaining about feature on Amazon website? View Answer
Technical Program Manager Interview (Neutral Experience; Average Interview)
I applied through a recruiter - interviewed at Amazon.com in October 2013.
Interview Details – I was contacted by a recruiter and started with a phone screen that went well. In person interviews also were a good experience, all the interviewers with the exception of the actual hiring manager were good!
Interview Question – All the questions were pretty standard PM questions ranging from design to interpersonal skills Answer Question
Junior Software Developer Interview (Neutral Experience; Average Interview)
I applied through college or university and the process took 5 weeks - interviewed at Amazon.com.
Interview Details – This is an internship position that pairs you with an experienced developer at the San Luis Obispo site.
The requirements for this position are a minimum 16 hrs. / week commitment, and solid experience with Java and data structures. Typically a sophomore / junior level college student position, with opportunities for advancement and full-time employment upon graduation.
Two phone interviews (~ 45 min. each), one on-site interview (~3 hrs. - four 45 min. segments with different interviewers)
I interviewed at the Amazon-SLO site. They are usually quick to follow up within a week if you are selected for the next interview.
Interview Question – Traverse a binary tree level by level. View Answer
Operations Manager At A Fulfillment Center Interview (Neutral Experience)
I applied through an employee referral and the process took 1+ week - interviewed at Amazon.com in June 2014.
Interview Details – The initial phone screen was pretty straight forward. The interviewer was reading questions from a checklist and only knew the position I was applying for bit had no clue about the location. At the end of the interview he asked if I had any questions for him but he really couldn't answer anything with any certainty. Keep you answers short and to the point. The interviewer is not really interested. Overall the screening went well. I declined to move further in the process because I was not willing to relocate at the time.
Interview Question – All of the questions with with the exception of a simple math problem to calculate number of man hours to process a certain number of units, were all about leadership. The questions all took the form of "Tell me about a time..." Answer Question
Software Development Engineer I Interview (Positive Experience; Difficult Interview)
I applied through college or university and the process took 2 weeks - interviewed at Amazon.com.
Interview Details – I did 4 interviews, all through my university. The interviews were 100% technical -- they were not interested in your standard boilerplate interview questions. I asked more of those during my chance to ask questions at the end.
The first was a broad preliminary screening with an easy question about substrings, and the subsequent 3 were back-to-back-to-back. I strongly recommend Cracking the Coding Interview as a resource. I studied it for these interviews, and although none of the questions were exactly the same (one linked-list question was VERY similar), the overall strategies I learned from that book were helpful for every question.
Interview Question – Given a parking lot of fixed size, made up of a number of rows of spaces, and different vehicle sizes (e.g. car = 1 spot, bike = 1/2 spot, van = 2 spots, bus = 4 spots), develop an algorithm to determine the optimal place to park for any entering vehicle. View Answer
Negotiation Details – I did not negotiate at all, which in retrospect was naive. I recommend at least asking for more.
Very Difficult Interview
Amazon Instant Video Interview (Neutral Experience; Very Difficult Interview)
I applied through a recruiter and the process took 2 weeks - interviewed at Amazon.com.
Interview Details – A recruiter reached out and we scheduled a phone interview the following week. This interview was very easy and we immediately scheduled next steps. Next I had an interview with the hiring manager. Every question was very behavioral based, and after each question, there were 2 or 3 follow up related questions. Overall I understand why Amazon chooses to interview this way, however I felt like the process made me more nervous than anything. I don't think I really was able to showcase who I am and how I work on a day to day basis. Both people I interviewed with (the recruiter and hiring manager) were very polite and respectful, however I felt that the whole interview was very impersonal and cold.
Interview Question – "Tell me about a time with you had to negotiate with a partner." Answer Question
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