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Amazon.com Software Development Engineer Interview Questions & Reviews

Updated Jul 21, 2014
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178 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.


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.


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


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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


No Offer

Neutral Experience

Software Development Engineer Interview

Software Development Engineer

Interviewed at Amazon.com

Interview Details – Same experience as everyone else on glassdoor. Two online coding tests. Five in person 45 min interviews in one day. Lots of whiteboard coding and design. Lots of behavioral questions. They try to get you to badmouth previous managers and badmouth yourself with uniquely worded questions. Recognise these for what they are and respond appropriately.


Accepted Offer

Positive Experience

Average Interview

Software Development Engineer Interview

Software Development Engineer
Seattle, WA

I applied online and the process took 4 months - interviewed at Amazon.com in May 2014.

Interview Details – I submitted an application online and forgot about it, and was contacted by a recruiter a few weeks later. I had two phone interviews about three weeks part. Each one was about an hour and involved technical questions. I did pretty terrible on both of them due to nervousness.

Shortly after (< 1 week) I was invited for onsite interviews. I had 5 interviews + lunch, with a mix of technical and behavioral questions. The questions were typical algorithm/data structures questions, so definitely prepare on those beforehand. The next day I got an email letting me know that they would be extending an offer. I had interviewed at a couple of other places previously which really helped my confidence. Definitely do that if possible.

Interview Question – A lot of behavioral questions, have some experiences memorized so you're not making it up as you go along.   Answer Question

Negotiation Details – I was able to negotiate the base salary a little, but they wouldn't budge very much.


Declined Offer

Positive Experience

Average Interview

Software Development Engineer Interview

Software Development Engineer
Seattle, WA

I applied through college or university and the process took 2 weeks - interviewed at Amazon.com in November 2012.

Interview Details – I applied through the career fair of our university. They contacted me afterwards and invited for a hiring event at Seattle. There were several candidates who were interviewed on the same day. I had 4 rounds of interviews and the difficulty of questions varied for moderate to hard. With good preparation of computer science basics and some interview practice, it is relatively easy to crack this interview.

Interview Question – I was asked to implement a hash map from scratch. It was challenging because we don't really think in detail about how to do it. There were problems about resolving hash collisions, how to maintain the hash map, how to update/ delete elements, complexity analysis etc. Overall I think this was a very good question to test both CS fundamentals and coding skills.   Answer Question

Reason for Declining – Had better offers.


Accepted Offer

Positive Experience

Average Interview

Software Development Engineer Interview

Software Development Engineer
Seattle, WA

I applied online and the process took 5 weeks - interviewed at Amazon.com in June 2014.

Interview Details – Had a few phone conversations with HR about specific positions and interests. One technical phone interview with coding on a shared google-doc-like website. Flew me to Seattle and put me up in a nice hotel.

Interviewed with six people back-to-back without pause for four or five hours. Each interview was roughly the same: do some whiteboard coding, answer questions about your history. None of the whiteboard questions were riddles or tricks or things with one weird solution that you probably won't come to on your own. They were just mildly thorny problems where a decent solution involves a map or two and updating data in the proper order: decent and realistic stuff.

Read up on Amazon's Leadership Principles. There is a lot of "behavioral interviewing" where you're asked about challenges you've experienced and how you've responded to them. I went in expecting general questions where they'd analyze my answer to see if it exemplified specific Leadership Principles. In reality, the interviewers just straight-up asked, "tell me about a time where you <INSERT AMAZON LEADERSHIP PRINCIPAL>".

Where Amazon differed from other companies is that I was not given much opportunity to ask questions of the interviewers. They told me the project is secret and that most projects at Amazon are treated as secrets, even to other employees within the company. It's a little weird not knowing 100% what you're signing up for. Also, I didn't get a good feel for the culture of the team I'd be joining.

The whole process took just over a month, which is apparently faster than usual. I was fielding interviews and offers from other companies so continually pushed Amazon to keep the process moving along.

Negotiation Details – Offer was very good, negotiated for a bit more. Probably helped to have competitive offers from other companies on the table.


2 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

Neutral Experience

Difficult Interview

Software Development Engineer Interview

Software Development Engineer
Seattle, WA

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

Interview Details – I applied to Amazon.com online and received an invitation to interview at their HQ in Seattle ~1 week later. Amazon buys your flight and hotel, but they also reimburse for any expenses aside from alcohol, etc. (it's worth going at least to have fun in Seattle!)

The interview process was grueling. They have you code from ~10AM - 4:30 PM on a project. The project is divided into smaller subsections (usually 3) where you work with 2 other people to understand the project's concept, then go off and work on your own part. You meet with two interviewers -- one for 30 minutes, another for 15. These interviews are broken up throughout the day, but you mostly just code on your section of the project. The interview questions are relevant to CS, software design, your code, and how well you understand the project and other people's sections of the project.

By the end of the day I was ready to run out of their office and head to the corner bar.

Interview Question – None of the questions were difficult. The only 'difficult' question I had was "How would you approach this problem with a better solution?"   View Answer

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