I’ve been at Amazon for just under a year, at the time of writing, and as I approach my first anniversary, I reflect on how I got on this crazy, exciting merry-go-ride, they call Prime Video. I wanted to put down my thoughts on screen as to how I prepared for the interviews, what the interview process was like, and provide some tips for you, if you do get the privilege of going through the interview loop. Mind you, I am giving you just my mere perspective, as a Senior Technical Program Manager, and other roles would certainly have their caveats and domains of expertise.
Assuming you’ve gone through the online application and have been sought after by a recruiter, phone screening is your entry into the interview loop, your first (and possibly only) opportunity to impress.
At Amazon, our interviews are rooted in behavioral-based questions which ask about past situations or challenges you’ve faced and how you handled them, using Leadership Principles to guide the discussion. We avoid brain teasers (e.g., “How many windows are in Manhattan?”) as part of the interview process. We’ve researched this approach and have found that those types of questions are unreliable when it comes to predicting a candidate’s success at Amazon.
As a TPM, I had to produce a kind of essay, demonstrating my work style in my previous companies, and of course aligning those with Amazon’s Leadership Principles(LPs), something you should certainly read back to front. Check out some of my other blog posts that dive into some of the leadership principles.
Your phone interview will consist of behavioral-based questions where you will demonstrate how you resolved past situations, whilst highlighting leadership principle qualities, along the way.
Questions you may face include(source: Amazon):
- Tell me about a time when you were faced with a problem that had a number of possible solutions. What was the problem and how did you determine the course of action? What was the outcome of that choice?
- When did you take a risk, make a mistake, or fail? How did you respond, and how did you grow from that experience?
- Describe a time you took the lead on a project. What did you do when you needed to motivate a group of individuals or promote collaboration on a particular project?
- How have you leveraged data to develop a strategy?
The first thing you will need to do is build your own experience artifact, by creating an outline using the S.T.A.R method, and use the LPs as your guide for the questions. Then come up with about two or three examples tor each type of LP, variants.
It is critical your set of examples are diverse, don’t use the same example more than once.
Amazon is a data-driven company, so have your answers in S.T.A.R, making sure you are concise and answering the question at hand, along with metrics or data to back up your decision, it will surely help validate your train of thought.
A technique I like to use is to always repeat the question back, to help you ensure you are answering the question correctly, and give you time to provide a balanced structured response.
Finally, be relaxed, let your answers come naturally and not overly manufactured, and be prepared to dive deeper into your responses.
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If you have any questions, please comment below, and I will do my best to answer them!
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