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Amazon.com Software Development Engineer Interview Questions & Reviews

Updated Aug 14, 2014
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194 people found this helpful

Accepted Offer

Positive Experience

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**

Negotiation Details – As a recent grad, there wasn't much room for negotiation.


3 people found this helpful

No Offer

Neutral Experience

Difficult Interview

Software Development Engineer Interview

Software Development Engineer
Austin, TX

I applied online and the process took a day - interviewed at Amazon.com in July 2014.

Interview Details – Apply online one day and got a feed back in less than 24 hours. The recuriter sent an email with instructions on the position, tips to perpare you for the test, and the link to take the test. Had to take a 60 minute test before continuing. The test contains some logical questions and especially heavy on data structures.

Interview Questions

  • Hardest question was the first one. It asks you to write a program that will allow the user to create lines, rectangles, circles, text, etc. And allow them to manipulate them independently (move them, resize them, etc.) Design an object model for this application. (How would you model the representation of the document in an object oriented language? What classes would you define? What methods would you have? What would your API look like?)   Answer Question
  • The second question ask you to code the following about facebook: Direct friends of m are Level 1 friends. Friends of friends are level 2 friends.....and so on
    Print level 1 friends first. Then print level 2 friends....and so on
      Answer Question
  • The third and final question was the follow: Write an efficient function that returns the n’th Fibonacci number (There are many ways to solve this problem. Please write the most efficient method possible). Each Fibonacci number is the sum of the last two. The first 10 are: 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, 34, 55   Answer Question


No Offer

Neutral Experience

Software Development Engineer Interview

Software Development Engineer

Interviewed at Amazon.com

Interview Details – Q1 Datastructure Question: find the first common node if two linked lists share common latter part. Very basic question; Q2: OODesign: Furniture shop, different kinds of furniture, different materials. Design class. Not very fimiliar with the OOD at that time, but this is a very simple question. Guess not gave a satisfying answer.

Interview Question – I was not very fimiliar with the OOD at that time.   Answer Question


2 people found this helpful

No Offer

Negative Experience

Difficult Interview

Software Development Engineer Interview

Software Development Engineer
Boston, MA

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

Interview Details – I was contacted by a recruiter via email to interview for a SDE position during a hiring event in Boston. I had an initial phone call with the recruiter, who put me in touch with a scheduler. The scheduler set me up for a phone interview, which was a live-coding interview.

# Phone Interview #
There were a few questions about my resume (the one they had was four years out of date!) but the majority of this interview was technical. The questions were pretty basic and focused on general algorithmic knowledge. I only remember the last task, which involved Fibonacci sequence generation. There were several steps after this that involved optimizing the solution. Once finished, the interviewer gave me a chance to ask questions about Amazon.

Shortly after the phone interview, I was contacted by the team recruiter who informed me that they'd like me to come in for an on-site interview. I made a point to discuss my resume being four years out of date, but was told this would not be a problem. I was given a list of times and asked to pick a handful that worked best for me. Once that was taken care of, I was given a rundown of the position (salary range, relocation package, benefits, etc.) Onsite interview specifics were explained to me and the onsite was set to take place a couple weeks later.

# Onsite Interview #
A schedule was given to me a few days before the onsite interview that outlined who I'd be interviewing with (name and title,) and at what time. The format was 4 interviews at 45 minutes each, all in the same room, all technical in nature. I arrived early, and waited in the lobby for an interviewer to come meet me and take me to the interview room. Once other candidates arrived, there weren't enough chairs for everyone in the lobby, so the receptionist had to run and get some office chairs from somewhere else in the building. After waiting for a short period (maybe 20 or so minutes,) my first interviewer met me in the lobby, got me a visitor badge, and we headed over to the interview room.

I won't get specific about the questions from the onsite interview (NDA, more on that later,) but I will say that they follow a basic template. First few questions are scripted behavioral questions, everything else is technical. I was required to write code for every interview (even those with managers.) All of the interviewers were explicitly *not* strict regarding syntax, with the exception of the bar raiser. I was also asked architectural and design questions. I got along well with everyone but the bar raiser, who succeeded in ruffling my feathers a bit. All of the interviews were completed with enough time for me to ask the interviewer questions except for the bar raiser, whose interview I didn't wrap up in time. Every interviewer had my outdated resume and asked me about my experience listed. This meant I had to update each about the last 4 years of my professional life (which contained directly relevant experience.)

After the final interview, I was escorted to the elevators after being told multiple times that I'd hear back from someone within 3 days. Overall, the campus felt very sterile and almost prison-like. What I did see of the office was bland and unappealing (no art on the walls, nothing distinguishing peoples' desks, nothing to suggest that people even work there.) I was only ever offered water, and was at no point allowed to go anywhere without a direct escort. Throughout the interviews I did not leave the room, but was asked in between interviews if I needed to use the restroom. I was required to sign an NDA to complete the interview process, but at no point was told what it was I'd actually be working on, despite me directly asking. I was told that even other teams within the company weren't privy to what was going on.

As mentioned earlier, I was told that I'd receive either an offer or rejection within 3 days. About a week passed, so I reached out to the recruiters to ask for an update. No response. It wasn't until almost a month after the onsite that I was sent a rejection. The email was pretty off-putting because it was suggested that maybe a support or systems engineering position would be a better fit for me. I was already making a downward move title-wise to the SDE position, but the change of location and project focus were appealing enough to merit that.

# Overall #
While every person I spoke with was personable and seemed intelligent (without coming off arrogant,) the company bothered me. Amazon seems to be devoid of a culture to the point of feeling robotic. The sterile office, scripted responses, failure to follow through on self-appointed contact deadlines, general lack of input recognition, the mildly insulting rejection quip, and some frustrating logistical blunders (which I won't get into,) all made me think that it's probably best I didn't receive an offer.

Interview Question – I'll respect the NDA and not go into specifics. I will say that it involved graph traversal.   Answer Question


No Offer

Positive Experience

Average Interview

Software Development Engineer Interview

Software Development Engineer

I interviewed at Amazon.com in March 2014.

Interview Details – After not hearing back from the company for a couple of weeks, I finally received an email telling me that I will be having a phone interview the next day. They allowed me to choose between three time slots. All together, it was a 2 hr technical interview with two different interviewers. They used an online coding website so they interview can view your work

Interview Question – Nothing really difficult or unexpected, just know your stuff. As you are writing your programming, make sure to explain why you are doing what ever you are doing. If you are going off track, they will help.   Answer Question


Accepted Offer

Neutral Experience

Software Development Engineer Interview

Software Development Engineer

I applied through college or university and the process took 2 days - interviewed at Amazon.com.

Interview Details – 2 phone interviews. hired based off of 30 mins of talk time and a resume you gave them. Not a ton of time to show off, but it was enough. you'll be asked some personality questions and a coding question or two. two people each with their own set of questions.

Interview Question – Expect different coding questions. Get one of those "How to Crack the Technical Interview" if you're concerned. For an intern position the questions will be pretty light, but that will depend on your interviewer. Look up the 14 amazon leadership principals and be ready to explain how you applied each one in the past - they'll ask you about one or two but you won't know which one. You might get a design question - design an alarm clock. Don't try to just do it on the fly. They're testing you to see if you get more specifications before trying to design a product.   Answer Question

Negotiation Details – Intern position. I did not negotiate.


Accepted Offer

Positive Experience

Average Interview

Software Development Engineer Interview

Software Development Engineer
Seattle, WA

I applied through college or university and the process took 1 week - interviewed at Amazon.com in February 2014.

Interview Details – I was contacted by an Amazon recruiter in a mass email, with a schedule to sign up for an interview on campus. I had the interview about 5 days later. Two back-to-back 45 minute interviews with just an Amazonian and I (in adjacent rooms, another student and I just swapped places. First one was pretty relaxed, talked about data structures, what he did at Amazon, he asked me a couple simple fast questions typical of a intro CS class exam, and an OO design question. Next person asked me a long question that took me about 40 minutes to complete, and we talked a bit about what she did.

I had another offer deadline imminent, so they got back to me with an offer on that Monday (the interview was Friday). Very fast and surprisingly simple process, I'm still surprised that there was really only one (kind of two) interviews. Good experience!

Interview Question – Finding out if there is a palindrome inside of a string I think? It's been a while, but I hadn't seen it before and the interviewer helped me out a bit.   Answer Question

Negotiation Details – No negotiation, since it's an internship.


5 people found this helpful

No Offer

Negative Experience

Difficult Interview

Software Development Engineer Interview

Software Development Engineer
Seattle, WA

I applied online and the process took 3 months - interviewed at Amazon.com in April 2014.

Interview Details – I didn't hear back from them for over month after I applied. So I contacted them by email to ask about the status of my application, and they replied by inviting me for an on-site interview at their Seattle campus. They didn't ask for a phone interview or talk to me before that. I thought that was weird, but cool nonetheless.

As it turned out, there was a catch. The reason they don't do phone interviews is because the on-site interviews are group interviews with about 50 other candidates. And damn they are difficult. They don't have time to do phone interviews, because they are doing it mass production style. Amazon is growing at a very fast pace, and adding a lot of employees constantly, as well as replacing those who leave because of their high turn-over rate. I guess they figured this is the only way that they can hire a lot of people, yet still ensure they are only getting top quality. I would have preferred if it was one-on-one interviews. Even if I hadn't gotten an offer that way, I would have felt more respected.

The interview day is comprised of one big programming project. We were given old low-end bulky laptops with small screens (14 inch?) to work on. We worked in groups of three. They constantly stressed that we were not competing with either our teammates or other groups, and that if we were all good, they would hire us all. Given the fast rate at which Amazon is growing, I believe that.

I believe the programming project was too big and too time consuming for only about 5-6 hours. I think it favors people with a lot of programming experience rather than problem solving ability. Someone who can crank out a lot of simple code quickly will outperform someone who can write a small amount of really difficult code. I don't think they are necessarily getting the best quality of candidates this way. This is an entry level position, and they shouldn't have interviews more suitable for seasoned software engineers.

Amazon admitted that they have a very frugal cost-conscious company culture and this is a good thing. However, I don't like that they downplayed the frequency with which employees are on-call: where they could be called in the middle of the night and have to wake up and fix a site reliability problem, albeit from their home. According to them, it was a few days every six months, but according to someone I know who worked at Amazon, it is a few days every couple of weeks.

Interview Question – The programming project was too big and time-consuming for completing in under 6 hours. It takes a lot of time to read and fully comprehend the long project writeup and the framework code we are supposed to build on, let alone code it, test it, and comment it.   Answer Question


No Offer

Positive Experience

Average Interview

Software Development Engineer Interview

Software Development Engineer
Seattle, WA

I applied through college or university and the process took 3 weeks - interviewed at Amazon.com in March 2014.

Interview Details – I gave a recruiter my resume at my university's career fair and got an email about 2 weeks later inviting me to an on-site interview in Seattle. I was really surprised that I didn't have any phone interviews, not even an initial phone screen before being invited on-site (nobody from Amazon called me at all). I live in California, so going to the campus wasn't just a drive away.
At my on-site interview, we were put into groups of 3 to complete a mini programming project that was supposedly based on problems that real Amazon engineers consider (but to a much smaller scale). Each project is independently done. That's what we worked on for the whole day, and throughout the day, you would get pulled out for short interviews mostly explaining what you're doing on the project and related things. Nothing really behavioral or technical. The interviewers were friendly and helpful. Afterwards, all the interviewees went into a room for some panel discussion and questions.
Overall, I had a good experience on-site, but it was very different from what I expected or have experienced before. One thing though, it's been over a month since I submitted my reimbursements and still haven't gotten a reimbursement or update.

Interview Question – We werent really asked any questions...   Answer Question


Declined Offer

Neutral Experience

Easy Interview

Software Development Engineer Interview

Software Development Engineer

Interviewed at Amazon.com

Interview Details – 2 phone interview, 1 on-campus. Phone interview are about 40 minutes each. After that I had a one to one on-campus interview which takes 40 minutes as well. Phone interviews are pretty easy, went over my resume and asked a few technical questions.

Interview Question – Not very hard, typical programming questions about data structures, like hash tables.   Answer Question

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