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Questions for Amazon Interview - Tips to ace your interview

Updated: Nov 22, 2021

Introduction:

Amazon is one of the top five companies [Google, Microsoft, Meta (earlier known as Facebook) and Apple being the other four] and has been striving to be “Earth’s most customer-centric company”. It was started in the year 1995 by Jeff Bezos, former CEO of the company and now Executive chairman. It is one of the most innovative companies in the world which is evident from its diversification from a book seller to ecommerce site to development platform.

Amazon Interview principle
What Jeff Bezos says about hiring!

Jeff Bezos once stated, “I'd rather interview 50 people and not hire anyone than hire the wrong person”. In short, an Amazon interview will be challenging. This only means that Amazon sets the bar high when it comes to interview and hiring. However, it is not impossible to get through the interview, especially with preparation, dedication, and practice. Going through this article is your first step in clearing the Amazon interview.

This post is primarily intended for SDE1 and SDE2 roles which means you will understand more about the amazon interview questions for freshers. For the SDE1 and SD2 roles, you will get multiple rounds of coding interview. For senior roles, I have a separate post with a high focus on the 16 leadership principles (2 added in 2021 to the already existing 14 leadership principles) and the loop process including the bar raiser.


The below topics are covered in this post:

1. Interview Format

2. Resume and Application

3. Key topics to cover

4. Frequently asked questions for Amazon interview

5. Effective tips for the interview

6. Conclusion


By end of this post, you would have understood the hiring process at Amazon and a fair idea on how to get through the interview as well.


Interview Format:

For SDE1 and SDE2 roles, there will be a series of online coding exams and telephonic / in-person interviews. Typically, there would be 5 rounds of interviews. There could be 1-2 rounds of online coding test followed 3-4 rounds of telephonic or in-person interviews. If you are applying and appearing for an Amazon intern interview, then there is a high probability that you have only 3 rounds of interview and not 5 rounds.

The online coding exam will be LIVE CODE without compilation. You will be presented with the question and be asked to do the coding in the LIVE platform.

The in-person or telephonic interview would be around 45 minutes to 1 hour each. If it is a telephonic or video interview, it will be a chime interview. It is their software and it can be compared to something like a zoom interview.

Software for Amazon Online interview
Amazon software for Online interview

In these interviews, you will be asked questions about your project. Regardless of the level you are being interviewed for, the questions for Amazon interview will cover the leadership principles. So, you need to make sure that you are completely prepared both on your project as well as the Amazon leadership principles.

For SDE2 roles, there will be some high focus on the system design as well during the amazon interview. This will in addition to the points mentioned above on the projects and amazon leadership principles.


Resume and Application

When it comes to resume, it shouldn’t be more than 2 pages to keep the attention of the screener. You need to keep it clear and concise by giving more importance to readability than being fancy.


Quote from Hans Hoffman on keeping things simple
Keep your resume simple

Unless there are any hobbies that can be correlated to the Amazon leadership principles, you don’t have to mention about your hobbies in the resume. Instead, you can highlight the project details listing down your accomplishments and responsibilities.


Key topics to cover

For SDE1 and SDE2, below are some of the key topics that you should prepare thoroughly before attending the amazon interview.

  • Dynamic Programming – Common digit longest sequence

  • Strings – Anagram pairs, Decrypted string, Count frequency, search for integers

  • Arrays – Positive/Negative pair count

  • HashMap, LRU Cache

  • Logical & System design – Minimizing cash flow, Logic about designing a mobile app

  • Binary tree & Generic tree – Algorithms like dutch national flag,

  • Operating Systems – threads, processes, deadlock & prevention


In addition to above technical topics, there are public platforms available online where you can try coding and prepare yourselves well before you attend the amazon interview.


Frequently asked Questions for Amazon interview

How should I answer the questions for Amazon Interview?

You should respond to the amazon interview questions with a well-constructed story that is approximately 3-4 minutes. Make sure that your responses follow a structured manner. It should explain the situation, your responsibilities, and the benefits. You should use STAR technique.

Use STAR technique to answer the questions for amazon interview
STAR Technique - Effective response option for Amazon Interviews

As part of the results, you should try to get the focus moved to some other strong area of yours or leave the door open for a more drill down on the same question. Avoid monologue and entertain a conversation.


How will Amazon assess my answers?

There is no quantitative data for this question. It is a judgmental call and the very reason you have multiple rounds handled my different interviewers. In general, there will be certain expectations for each role. Your responses should demonstrate that you will be able to handle the role with ease. STAR responses to the interview questions will help in achieving this outcome.


What should I demonstrate in the interview?

You must demonstrate the 16 Amazon Leadership principles. Every question asked in Amazon interview will typically require you to exhibit one or more of the leadership principles. You must tie your responses with the leadership principles seamlessly. This is possible only if you have done the preparatory work of creating a cheat sheet mapping your scenarios with amazon leadership principles.

Information about the 16 Amazon Leadership Principles are available in abundance on their own career website. If you need assistance with Amazon leadership principles related questions, please reach out to us for Interview coaching.


Effective tips for the interview

Below are 5 most effective tips for answering the questions and clearing an Amazon interview

  1. Follow STAR technique, but still ensure to be crisp with your response

  2. For college students and freshers, ensure that you speak more about your project or extracurricular activities

  3. Have results for every challenge that can quantified

  4. Be ready to give an alternate approach for every scenario based on the lessons learnt

  5. Be ready to give a secondary scenario for every question

Conclusion

I have given the interview format, some of the key topics and how you can answer the amazon interview questions. I hope this gives you a head start with your preparation. As I have mentioned in above sections, you must prepare hard and practice harder. Make use of all the free platforms available to you to try coding and watch as many YouTube videos as you need to create the cheat sheet for the interviews.


You also need to go through the amazon website for their interview process and understand it completely. If you still need to be sure with your preparation, make use of our mock interview and interview coaching package that will help you clear the amazon interview.

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