I applied through other source and the process took 4 months - interviewed at Amazon.com in June 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.
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.
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 Answer Question
Negotiation Details – As a recent grad, there wasn't much room for negotiation.
Very Difficult Interview
I applied through a recruiter and the process took 1 week - interviewed at Amazon.com in December 2013.
Interview Details –
I had applied several times through Amazon's career page but never heard back using that method. I obtained a recruiter's Amazon email through my University's career adviser and sent out an email explaining my love for Amazon as a company, and genuine desire to be a part of the expanding giant. I heard back two days later, was quickly invited to two back-to-back 45-minute phone interviews scheduled one week after I had first sent out the email.
This all just happened today. Will update as I move along in the process.
Interview Question –
The interviews were very technically oriented thankfully. There were no behavioral questions besides the usual: "Why do you want to work with Amazon?"
I was given only one problem in every interview, which surprisingly takes the greater part of the interview to solve. We communicated using CollabEdit.com.
Question Number 1:
//Write a method which takes an array input and returns true if the sum of any two elements is equal to the sum of the corresponding indices.
// Concretely if for an array the sum of values at any two indices i and j is equal to the sum of i and j.
Question Number 2:
// Write a method to reverse a linked list.
// State any assumptions and write any classes/structs that you will need. Answer Question
Very Easy Interview
I applied through college or university and the process took 3 days - interviewed at Amazon.com.
Interview Details –
I applied for Amazon through my school's career website as well as Amazon's website. I got an invite for on-campus interviews later on in the month.
The first interview was an initial screening. The interview was very informal and simple, and that night I got a phone call asking me to go back for three more interviews the next morning.
The three next interviews were back to back. The questions asked involved algorithms, data structures and design problems; nothing that was particularly tricky. All the interviewers seem to like the company, but none of them seem to love it.
I got an email offer 2 days after those interviews, and I was also invited to fly to Amazon for a day trip, where I met some of the teams at Amazon and chatted with some engineers. The trip was interesting and I enjoyed it. However, I eventually decided to decline the offer because I don't think I was particularly passionate about any of the teams.
Before you go to an Amazon interview, be warned that they will give you an offer very quickly. If you have other companies that you have in mind that you would like to consider, you should set up interviews with them first. I know a lot of people (including myself) who got an unexpectedly early offer from Amazon before they were even contacted by other companies they might like.
Interview Question – Implement quicksort. View Answer
Reason for Declining –
- I don't think I am passionate enough about the company
- I didn't meet a lot of "stand-out"s from my trip to Amazon
- I received better offers
I applied through an employee referral and the process took 4+ weeks - interviewed at Amazon.com in December 2013.
Interview Details – I was contacted after an employee referral to schedule a phone interview. Two back-to-back 45-minute long technical interviews were conducted. The interview started off with a couple of behavioral questions, and then moved on to verbal questions to gauge my understanding of algorithms and data structures. Some code-writing was done through a collaborative online editor. Received the offer about a week later.
Interview Question – Write a function to tell whether a BST is balanced View Answer
I applied through college or university and the process took a day - interviewed at Amazon.com in December 2013.
Interview Details – I met the recruiter at a college job fair. They flew me out for day-long interview. You worked in groups of 3, and the programming task had 3 parts to it, so each person picked a part. The parts were conceptually related, so teamwork was a benefit (bouncing ideas off each other), but in the end your code is your own; you could use any language you want (independent of team members). Halfway through the day there was a 30 minute session where you were expected to walk through your algorithm design choices and code with 2 of the proctors.
Interview Question – "What would be a disadvantage to using recursion in this case?" Answer Question
Interviewed at Amazon.com
Interview Details – Applied and after a week got an online assignment which required to be completed. The assignment contained 3 questions which required to be coded in Java or C++
Interview Question – Deep copy of a list list containing a pointer to the next node and also a pointer to a random other node ( could be a node ahead in the list, the node itself, somewhere behind or NULL) Answer Question
I applied online and the process took 4+ weeks - interviewed at Amazon.com.
Interview Details –
Started with online technical interview, fairly basic stuff like finding cycles in linked lists, reversing a string, etc.
Then they brought me out for an in-person interview. This was much more difficult, first two interviewers both asked tree related questions which I was prepared for. Then the third was all about object orientation. The fourth and final interviewer was more of a grab bag of random questions.
Surprisingly, only the first interviewer asked me about my previous projects. The fourth interviewer and I chatted briefly about them as he was escorting me out of the building.
Interview Question – Design a object oriented class for a vending machine. View Answer
Negotiation Details – Non-negotiable.
I applied online and the process took 3 months - interviewed at Amazon.com in November 2013.
Interview Details – The first step of the interview is to write code on a website called interviewstreet. There are 3 coding problems on data structures and algorithms. The first one is to check whether a list has loop or not. The second step would be on site interview. However, I failed in the online assessment.
Interview Question – There wasn't too difficult question. Answer Question
I applied through a recruiter and interviewed at Amazon.com.
Interview Details –
First, there was an online coding question, which was not easy.
Then there was an onsite interview. Generally simple questions over 4 technical rounds.
1 Print all the elements in an array that have occurred an odd number of times
2 Design a Chess game
3 Design a Parking Lot
4 Given an array of stock prices, where the increasing indexes of the array signify the increase in time. Return a good time to buy and sell such that profit is maximized.
5. Given a Linked List, split this linked list into 2 lists such that one list contains only odd numbers and the other one contains only even numbers
6. Find the square root of a number. Optimize.
Interview Question – Everything was really easy. Answer Question
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