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Amazon.com Interview Questions & Reviews

Updated Apr 14, 2014
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Difficult Interview

Software Development Engineer Interview

Software Development Engineer
Seattle, WA

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.

**Continued below**

Interview Question – In person interviews :

Day before :

If you've made it this far, first off, congrats. Take a step back and realize you're already among the best. Relatively few people actually make it this far, but you're not off the bat yet. You'll very probably be doing a 3 day/2 night stay. I had to fly across country, (E to W coast.) and that trip alone is enough to stress anyone out. But once you FINALLY get there, just get to your hotel. Public transit is pretty easy from the airport to downtown, but take a cab if you prefer.

Honestly, the best thing you can do this first day, is just get your bearings. Drop your stuff off in the hotel, and find just some normal (for you) food. Don't get all exotic and try something you've never had. Don't get alcohol. I sound probably like your mother. Sorry. But just try to find where you'll be interviewing. Get a feeling for how long it'll take to get there in the worst case scenario.

Once you've done all that, I'd hang out in the room, review some of the above stuff a bit, and try to hit the hay by 10 at the latest.

Day of:

Breathe. I went for a nice little jog in the gym across the street. Helped to relax me a bit. Whatever helps you do that, find it and do it. Eat a light and again, KNOWN breakfast. If you've never eaten it before, DO NOT do it that day. I'd recommend something simple, toast, fruit etc. Dress well, not full out suit, but I wouldn't show up in a tank top and shorts. (Though, one of my interviewers was in shorts... so???) I just did khakis and tucked in button down with rolled up sleeves.

I walked there, it was about a 15 minute walk and showed up about 40 minutes early. I wouldn’t personally go any earlier than that, but there’s a starbucks downstairs, so that might be a good place to relax a bit before you go upstairs. The receptionist greeted me, and got me all checked in. Once you sit down, this is an **ideal** time to turn off your cell phone. And I mean off. Few things are more detrimental to an interview than having that random alarm you set go off in the interview. Just turn it off. All the way off. It’ll be OK, your texts will be there when you’re done I promise.

The first person I met with wasn’t an interviewer. She was just to talk to me a bit, walk me to the room I’d be in for the rest of the day, and chat with. Ask this person your questions. We got coffee, sat down for a bit and just chatted. She asked what I did, I asked what she did etc. She told me about who I’d be meeting with that day, and my general timeline after the interview. Super nice.

The next 5 hours were just random questions about CS in general. Be prepared to write a lot of code that day (on a whiteboard), and know your crap. You’ll be asked all kinds of fun questions, probably very specific to the domain of the team interviewing you. Know the same stuff from above.

In these interviews, it’s best to show your confidence, and show them your knowledge, but more importantly your potential. You’ll very probably know 75% to 80% of the content they ask right off the bat. The rest may require some thinking out loud and vocalizing your thought process. Don’t stare at the board blankly. Talk to them, ask questions, bounce ideas off them, and just be a normal person. Pretend you already have the job, and they’re just there as a code reviewer/fellow engineer. I promise, it’ll go quickly, and by the end, you won’t believe how much knowledge you were able to just spout out.

That being said, I’ll quote one of the engineers, “The best thing you can do is to just get something working.” And he’s right. Just get an implementation down. Don’t necessarily write the most naive approach or the brute force approach (as a general rule, anything with a O(n^2) or worse run time isn’t worth writing down), but the next best idea, just go with it. Don’t over engineer it at first, just start. And then yall can optimize together. They’re great people, and they just want to see how you think.

Finally, just be yourself. Show them you like coding, and it’s what you want to do with them. Don’t be afraid to interact with them like they’re just old coding buddies. Make them laugh, have fun, but not too much. Remember, they’re still ultimately responsible for your next job. Just be you, and be confident. You go this in the bag already.

Most importantly, go out and celebrate when you're done. :D
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Negotiation Details – As a recent grad, there wasn't much room for negotiation.

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37 people found this helpful

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Area Manager Interview

Anonymous Employee

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
2. Strengths
3. Weaknesses
4. Why Amazon?
5. How can you translate your skills towards Amazon?
6. What experiences do you have that separate you from the rest?

Groups/ Leadership
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

Negativity
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 Answer

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1 person found this helpful

No Offer

Neutral Experience

Average Interview

Software Development Engineer I Interview

Anonymous Interview Candidate
Seattle, WA

I applied through a recruiter and the process took 3 weeks - interviewed at Amazon.com.

Interview Details – It was a group interview that took place at their Seattle campus, together with around 25 other interviewees.

Breakdown:
- 8am-9am: A quick tour around campus, meet and greet
- 9am: Sat in a big room with 3 interviewers, Had breakfast, Broken up into small groups to work on a problem
- 10am-5pm: Coding, lunch, and 2 short one-on-one interviews in between
- 5pm-6pm: Wrap-up, Q&A with Amazon employees

Provided/To Reimburse:
- Accommodation (2 nights)
- Basic allowance ($65 on food per day etc...)
- Transit (Round-trip to Seattle, and taxi within Seattle)

Interview Question – Base on the code that you've written so far, what can you add or modify to improve it?   Answer Question

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No Offer

Negative Experience

Difficult Interview

Community Manager Interview

Anonymous Interview Candidate

I applied through an employee referral and the process took 2 weeks - interviewed at Amazon.com.

Interview Details – Interview was a phone screening. We talked about the role and some ideas I had for the role. Then she asked a lot of data/entry questions that had absolutely nothing to do with the job role whatsoever. Mostly canned responses that insulted me and my time. Since we went over the 1-hour limit they allowed me 15 minutes to ask questions.

Interview Question – Give me a time you had to act quickly without any data.   View Answer

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No Offer

Positive Experience

Average Interview

User Experience Design Internship Interview

Anonymous Interview Candidate
Seattle, WA

I applied online and the process took 4+ weeks - interviewed at Amazon.com.

Interview Details – Got a phone interview two weeks after I applied; then a week later I had two phone interviews back to back.

Interview Question – How do you define done?   Answer Question

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No Offer

Neutral Experience

Difficult Interview

Technical Program Manager Interview

Anonymous Interview Candidate

I applied through a recruiter and the process took 2 weeks - interviewed at Amazon.com in March 2014.

Interview Details – The interview process was very straightforward: 1) the recruiter approached me; and we had the first screening chat; 2) I had the interview with one Senior Program Manager; She asked me behavioural and technical - high level - questions on digital TV and content management; 3) then another interview with a Senior Engineer; he asked me more in depth technical questions. Overall it went well, however I got their "I'm sorry you are not the right fit because..." note a couple of days after. It was very funny as the day before I had an interview with one of their major client, Netflix, and it did not go well. I wonder if these two thinks are related and they talked to each other, eg. via Linkedin, party lines, etc.

Interview Question – They are all different but I can suggest you: 1) Don't make up things; 2) prepare compelling stories on how you effectively managed people and solved technical / business problems; 3) remember that the interviewed are professionals like you and one day you might work together as vendor, client or business partners.   Answer Question

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No Offer

Neutral Experience

Difficult Interview

Amazon Area Manager Interview

Anonymous Interview Candidate

Interviewed at Amazon.com

Interview Details – Will get initial phone call from recruiter. Call was 3 Behavior questions with a math component that was very straightforward. Next step involves a follow-up with inviting you to fulfillment center and have 4 separate 30 minute interviews. 3 Behavior based interviews with the fourth having to do with a math component. They give you the problem after touring you around the facility and before going through the interviews.

Interview Question – Many of the behavioral questions were similar (i.e. along the lines of tell you how you improved a process). The math question is straight forward as others have posted.   Answer Question

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No Offer

Neutral Experience

Average Interview

Buyer- Fashion Department Interview

Anonymous Interview Candidate

The process took 2 weeks - interviewed at Amazon.com.

Interview Details – First phone call screening was a pretty standard walk through of my resume with 2 unexpected detailed questions. Other than that it was not clear to me based my experience why I did not go further in the process or what exactly they were looking for in a candidate. Follow up response was timely. When I asked about company strategies or challenges with their credibility as a "fashion authority" they were unwilling to disclose any information and seemed to rely heavily on their brand recognition as Amazon to carry them through.

Interview Question – First phone screening had 2 unexpected questions that were slightly intense:
1. Give an example of a time when you resolved a problem quickly and how did you do it.
2. Give an example of a problem you resolved in a 2 step process and how it impacted the business.
  Answer Question

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1 person found this helpful

No Offer

Negative Experience

Average Interview

Position Not Defined Interview

Anonymous Interview Candidate
Seattle, WA

I applied through an employee referral and interviewed at Amazon.com.

Interview Details – Strange interview with very little direct questions about experience. Mainly theoretical. Interviewers spent all their time typing into laptops. Was told to expect next steps then got rejected 2 days later with no reason given. All very odd.

Interview Question – Questions were all theoretical   Answer Question

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1 person found this helpful

No Offer

Neutral Experience

Difficult Interview

Category Manager Interview

Anonymous Interview Candidate
Seattle, WA

I applied through other source and the process took 1 week - interviewed at Amazon.com in January 2014.

Interview Details – Series of emails, with detailewusses tons, 60 minute phone interview with in depth questions

Interview Question – How would you manage 2000 plus vendors?   Answer Question

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