Amazon.com Technical Program Manager Interview Questions

Updated Apr 23, 2015
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Helpful (30)  

Technical Program Manager Interview

Anonymous Interview Candidate in Seattle, WA
Accepted Offer
Positive Experience
Average Interview

Application

I applied through a recruiter. The process took 3 weeksinterviewed at Amazon.com (Seattle, WA) in January 2015.

Interview

I recently interviewed for a Technical Project Manager role at Amazon. As a background, I should note that I have fifteen years experience in the IT field and ten as a PM. Based on the way my process unfolded, I strongly believe the Tech PM role at Amazon is intended for more senior PMs with a great deal of experience, at least at the team with which I interviewed. Everyone I spoke to had roughly the same amount of experience I had or more.

The interview process was in four phases: a phone screen with a recruiter, a 30 minute light PM oriented phone screen, a 60 minute very intense phone screen, and a series of onsite interviews.

The phone screen with the recruiter was the usual chat: are you interested, what is the job, tell me about your experiences, what is your salary range. I gave a low salary range. I honestly don't think my salary range mattered to them- they may just have been concerned that I wanted too much money.

The first light PM phone screen basically just walked through my experience, kind of a long bio discussing the work I did and the things I enjoy most and least in my previous jobs. Looking back, I get the sense that they were looking for how I reflected the core Amazon values in that chat as I was asked for stories that reflected items like ownership, bias for action, etc. That was a fine interview, low stress, just both sides feeling each other out to see if there was a fit.

I did well in that interview and was moved to the second phone screen. This was the most intense of all the interviews. The team member who spoke to me clearly had a list of questions to ask and scenarios to walk me through, and was extremely diligent about keeping me on track and answering his specific questions. He asked a combination of resume based questions and scenario based questions. His questions came in a torrent. As I finished my answer to one question I was given the next. Total time in that phase was 45 minutes, then I asked questions.

Several days later I received the notification that I would have an onsite interview. I was first scheduled to interview at 11 but had an additional manager added for earlier in the day so I came in earlier to talk. I was also told that I would be interviewing for one of two different jobs. I ended up having six interviews, all 45 minutes each, and spoke to eight people.

From my first meeting, with a Manager of Software Development, I had the strong feeling that there was a bias in favor of hiring me. Our interview was more of a chat, as it was very easy and low key. I felt a good rapport with the Manager and I asked him as many questions as he asked me. In fact, about halfway through the chat, he smiled and opened his laptop and said something like "I need to ask you these questions and document your answers" and we had a nice scenario based conversation. Most of the other interviews followed more or less the same pattern. Mostly the team wanted to hear how stories from my past professional work would apply to core Amazon values, and I had prepared to speak to that. There was one interviewer who seemed particularly tough and I think deliberately twisted one or two of my stories to confront me slightly and see how I might react in a meeting in which I had a fairly hostile questioner, but I stood my ground and professionally answered his questions and ensured that my message came across. The last two interviews both walked me through PM scenario type questions of the style of "If you were designing Twitter, never having used it, what how would you approach it?" and follow up questions like "What would you say are the key features?" and "How would you make decisions if the product ran behind?"

Though it was exhausting to talk and tell stories for five hours, the interview process was in no way painful. I made sure that my narratives addressed the core Amazon values and received obvious feedback (smiles or excited typing) that they really enjoyed that. I liked the people I spoke with and thought they would be good colleagues.

By far the most important advice I'd give any applicant is to be sure to read up on Amazon values. They are clearly very important in the company -- in my questions I probed those topics and every person I spoke to mentioned them. In my case they liked that I had stories about a strong customer focus, a strong bias for action, and a backbone when facing adversity. I had one or two stories in which I failed as an employee and rather than have that count against me, I think that worked in my favor as it showed that I'm interested in growing and learning from past mistakes.

Within 90 minutes of my leaving the interview, I received a generous offer from Amazon.

Interview Questions

  • How would you design or create twitter now, if you had never used it? How would you determine the key features and how would you design the back end of it? How would you determine what to cut if your team was running behind, and how would you message that delay to your stakeholders?   Answer Question

Negotiation

No need to negotiate. I was happy with the offer.

Other Interview Reviews for Amazon.com

  1. Helpful (27)  

    Technical Program Manager Interview

    Anonymous Employee in Seattle, WA
    No Offer
    Negative Experience
    Difficult Interview

    Application

    I applied online. The process took 4 weeksinterviewed at Amazon.com (Seattle, WA) in September 2014.

    Interview

    Very professional and organized process. Recruiting people are great. First a phone call from the recruiter. Second a 30 min interview with a director, pretty high level, and then another interview with a TPM which is more detailed.
    I was then invited to travel to the HQ in Seattle for a marathon of 5 interviews, with TPMs and Directors, four of them 1:1 and one 2:1.
    You can tell they interview a lot of people, some interviewers tried to show some interest others were in auto-pilot mode, asking the same questions and getting the same answers for the hundredth time can sure be boring.
    In the end, all folks very professional, doing their job, but I did miss some small talk, non-scripted talk, maybe 5 minutes after each interview, where you get to know the people better. I left with the impression that I talked to 6 machines that were programmed to ask questions and drilling them down to the core.
    From the Glassdoor reviews I learned that only one in four candidates who come to this stage get an offer letter, so I already knew my chances were slim. Anyways I flew over to gain experience and improve my interview game. Also I got to know the company and it's people, on which I don't think I would fit in.

    Interview Questions

    • Can not specify a question due to NDA, but there are many questions about past projects and request to solution some problem. Nothing too exotic, however on interview #4 or #5 I confess I got sick and tired of talking the same things over and over. Incidentally the more important interviews are the last ones, maybe on purpose :) But at that point I already knew I did not want to be an Amazonian.   Answer Question
  2.  

    Technical Program Manager Interview

    Anonymous Employee
    No Offer
    Negative Experience

    Application

    I applied through an employee referral. The process took a weekinterviewed at Amazon.com.

    Interview

    I got into Amazon's loop because my friend who works there recommended me for a position. There was a quick round of communication to set up a phone interview with the team, and they gave me a description of the position and a packet about preparing for the interview, although the packet didn't really address the question they asked.

    Interview Questions

    • The interviewer essentially spent the entire hour asking questions about the first project I mentioned from my latest job, getting into an almost uncomfortable level of detail and definitely beyond what I remembered well.   Answer Question
  3. Helpful (13)  

    Technical Program Manager Interview

    Anonymous Employee in Seattle, WA
    No Offer
    Negative Experience
    Average Interview

    Application

    I applied online – interviewed at Amazon.com (Seattle, WA).

    Interview

    Amazon is a big name and work wise you may have great exposure. You may think you have all good reasons to work for this company which is doing great financially and leading way technologically. Those were the reason I went after Amazon. Just to end up in sadness and frustration.

    The recruiter part is very standard , it followed by hiring manager interviewing for 1 hr. Apparently I cleared that and was excited. I got called in for on site interview and 4-7 persons were to interview.

    The hiring manager took the first one. His boss second , peer Dev manager, Product manager , and again two Dev managers- one was just shadowing.

    I believe they were testing me on the amazon leadership values that recruiter had emailed . I had plenty of example on those to offer. The level of questions went up , up and up. I was also asked to write code, draw architecture, , situational questions. etc.

    Over all expect a lot of questions on Amz's values and architecture.

    The interview went well in my opinion. My self I am a manager of one department and didn't sense any discomfort or wrong track. Of course until I received the call of "Thank you "

    Amazon is a great company if you want exposure. But the interview process is too much to deal with.
    Amazon does have a high employee churn,

    Sadly, when I asked for some feedback I was told that they don't share any. If there is an HR person on this blog -- dude look into this. People are successful out side Amazon too. You are hurting and spending a lot of energy on finding people.

    Amz seems to look one person to substitute 5 different roles.

    Atleast provide feedback

    Interview Questions

    • What is that you don't want to do ? It was an interesting question because all we think a lot about what we want to do.   Answer Question
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  5. Helpful (9)  

    Technical Program Manager Interview

    Anonymous Employee
    No Offer
    Positive Experience
    Easy Interview

    Application

    I applied through a recruiter. The process took 2+ monthsinterviewed at Amazon.com in September 2014.

    Interview

    They found me via Linked In.
    Sent me a glaring email about how exciting it would be to part of the Amazon Prime Team.
    And asked me would you be able to attend the recruiting event in Raleigh , NC ? I said YES, few days later they send me the online test ( via hackerrank). The online test was scenario specific about Prime Shipping . Very easy to answer. There was a 2 hour time limit too.
    After few days recruiter sent me official invitation. I was also told that regardless of PASS/FAIL of the hackerrank test result feedback would be given. They never sent me such response.
    After few weeks , they sent me the timeslots to choose for Raleigh, NC and accordingly they booked the hotel and sent me the travel details. I drove to Interivew location.

    The interview was in a Marriott hotel. There was a reception area ( basically a Marriott room ) where there and liquid refreshment ( soda, water )was provided and a brochure about Amazon.com and living in Seattle. Recruiter showed us the interview room ( each candidate was assigned the room ) and told that basically you go at 9 AM in this room and wait for your interviewer to arrive. And interview conclude in 50 minutes then you can return to the reception area for refreshment, it was three hour long interview process.

    All three hours, they keep asking scenario based questions, I kept asking follow up questions and continued to ask clarifying question , my clarifying question was sometime razor sharp that they themselves are fumbling to find the answer. Question were like if you have Amazon Prime Team and Amazon Music Team, and you are supposed to launch the Amazon Music product and there was no work done so far to do it , how would you go about launching the product ?

    Another one about extending the Amazon product page and adding the auction capability how would you design entities ? I used whiteboard to explain the scenario.

    Tell me something you do outside of your normal work ?
    What would you do if two teams are not talking with each other but their integration is required in certain project ?

    Interview Questions

    • The most difficult thing was that interviewer were very positive their body language etc was like that you are doing a really GOOD JOB ! But sometime you are not !   1 Answer
  6. Helpful (4)  

    Technical Program Manager Interview

    Anonymous Employee
    No Offer
    Positive Experience
    Average Interview

    Application

    I applied online. The process took 2 weeksinterviewed at Amazon.com.

    Interview

    The experience was positive. Had 2 over the phone interviews. The first call was from the person who used to have this position and had moved on to a new team. She was very nice and we had a good conversation for an hour. Second call was with a development manager that works with the team. The second interviewer was more authoritative and kept me on my heals the entire interview. I knew I wasn't on my a game during that interview.

    The HR recruiter was pleasant and responsive

    Interview Questions

    • How are your ensuring security on s mobile device?   1 Answer
    • What does success look like for a technical program manager?   Answer Question
    • Situational question and your response   Answer Question
  7. Helpful (5)  

    Technical Program Manager Interview

    Anonymous Employee in Seattle, WA
    No Offer
    Neutral Experience
    Average Interview

    Application

    I applied through a recruiter. The process took 5 weeksinterviewed at Amazon.com (Seattle, WA).

    Interview

    ProveRbs interview loop was as expected however being constantly bombarded with trying to think of past failures was way too emphasized versus challenges faced and overcome. I believe that instead of letting the interviwers control the process, taking control and exploring valid areas such as challenges, successes. Or pertinent data geared toward the job. Rather than the "script" on their laptop.

    Interview Questions

    • Can you talk about a time that you made an extremely bad career decision?

      Think about a time that you made a bad career choice?
       
      Answer Question
  8. Helpful (2)  

    Technical Program Manager Interview

    Anonymous Employee
    No Offer
    Positive Experience
    Average Interview

    Application

    interviewed at Amazon.com in June 2014.

    Interview

    Applied through an Amazon employee. Recruiter was very communicative. Case based interview. From scheduling the interview to reaching to a decision, everything was done in a timely manner with minimal wait. Questions were centered around leadership, decision making and problem solving. Interviewer was professional and friendly. I like Amazon, so will keep looking for future opportunities.

    Interview Questions

    • Questions were not unexpected, but I could have taken more time to think them through.   Answer Question
  9. Helpful (5)  

    Technical Program Manager Interview

    Anonymous Employee
    No Offer
    Negative Experience
    Difficult Interview

    Application

    I applied online. The process took 3 daysinterviewed at Amazon.com in May 2014.

    Interview

    17 years of industry experience. Multiple letters of commendation from executives. But the interviewer spent nearly the time grilling me on my answer to "explain a time at work when you failed to accomplish you goal". He did not ask anything about the content on the resume. Did not establish his expectations on what he is looking for in a candidate. Didn't express any interest in getting to know the whole me. Perhaps that is the Amazon way.

    Out of the gate they want to know why you choose to apply at amazon.

    Interview Questions

    • explain a time at work when you failed to accomplish you goal   Answer Question
  10. Helpful (1)  

    Technical Program Manager Interview

    Anonymous Employee
    No Offer
    Positive Experience
    Average Interview

    Application

    I applied through a recruiter. The process took 4+ weeksinterviewed at Amazon.com in May 2014.

    Interview

    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; He asked me behavioral and technical questions. Questions were quite general and scenario based mainly related to managing difficult situations during production outage, etc.; 3) then another interview with another TPM; he asked me more in depth technical questions.

    Interview Questions

    • They are all different but I can suggest you: 1) prepare compelling stories on how you effectively managed people and solved technical / business problems; 2) Be ready for algorithm complexity questions, so check at least wiki to refresh your knowledge on data structures and algorithms; 3) Prepare your own questions before interview.   Answer Question

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