Amazon – How to Ace Your Interview
Things to Keep in Mind
– Don’t bullshit to get into interview.
– They rarely find a 100% perfect candidate.
– Express a passion for disruption if interviewing for Amazon.
Preparing for your interview
– Do your homework on the company
– Ask yourself, does their corporate culture match my personality?
– Ask yourself, do I have common interests such as user groups or support similar charities?
– Clean up social media
Part I – The Phone Interview
1 – What kind of screen?
Find out the name of the interviewer, what role the callback is for, what the interviewer’s relation is to the role, the type of interview, and whether the interviewer will be a recruiter (head hunter, only looks at your basic qualifications) or hiring manager (behavioral based, skills, coding). Or maybe they’re in HR, they’re the hiring manager, the manager, a peer, or your actual boss.
2 – Be prepared
– Have the following on hand.
– Job description.
– Important documents.
3 – Ask clarifying questions before answering the question
– Are you asking for specific data?
– Do you need me to reference my current role?
– Let the interviewer control the interviewer.
– If you have things you wanted to say and didn’t get to, say,
“There is information that I want you to know about me – may I give it to you at the end of the call?”
(I personally heard of one person who got asked her first question and said, “I will be happy to answer that. But first, I’d like to share with you some information about myself.” She gave them her personal pitch and got the job.)
– Rescheduling is fine. It is more important to be prepared and they will be cool with this.
– Proprietary stuff – leave out and just say why.
4 – Stand up and smile during the call
Part II – The Onsite Interview
– For Amazon, the interview will last 5 hours.
Types of Questions
1 – Behavioral – tell me about a time when…
2 – Professional Only – Tell me how your qualifications match our needs in this position
3 – Skill Test – Set up to test your ability to reason or how you tackle a problem or situation
4 – Case study or hypothetical – How would you respond to [particular situation]
Purpose: To test your ability to work and play well with others.
– Start by telling them you need a couple of minutes and ask some qualifying questions.
– Check in that you are on the right track.
Examples of Questions:
– Why did you leave your job?
– What don’t you like about your job? What is your weakness?
– Showcase a positive situation with a positive outcome
– Can say I don’t like that example. Can I give you another?
Then we split the room into two halves: one for technical interviews and another for nontechnical interviews.
NONTECHNICAL IN-PERSON INTERVIEWS
Part I – Behavioral-Based Questions
Purpose: To dig into resume skills
Things to Keep in Mind
– If you’re awesome that will make them happy because you’ll be the last person they have to talk to
What They Are Looking For
STAR – Situation, Task, Action, Result
Situation – context. Why, where, when, why is it important?
Task – What were you supposed to accomplish?
Action – What did you do to get the awesome result on your resume? How did you accomplish the task?
Result – What did you accomplish? Don’t focus on others. Focus on you!
Part II – Case Study Questions
Purpose: To assess how you think about a problem creatively, handle ambiguity, and think on your feet.
Things to Keep in Mind
– There is no right answer
Example – Amazon wants to go to market in Shanghai – What is your strategy?
1 – What you heard – Repeat the question.
2 – Ask for a few minutes and take notes
3 – Ask questions – Tax, legal, marketing, product?
4 – Use the tools around you – whiteboard, pen and paper
Part III – Questions to Ask and Not Ask During the Interview
– Have 5-6 questions ready to go
– Check out their PR pages and website to find out what’s important to them.
– Don’t ask the same question to every interviewer
Example – What kind of projects do you typically work on?
Ask about compensation, benefits, etc. Ask the recruiter those questions.
IV – After the Interview
– Follow up
Q: I just interviewed. One of the last people I spoke with spent the entire time talking about themselves, their company, and everything but me. I didn’t get a word in. What do I do?
A: Sometimes at the end of the day, we love a candidate. So we tell the last interviewer that we love you and to sell the job to you. Do not interrupt them, look for windows, but never interrupt them.
Q: I want to transition. How do I do that?
A: Focus on achievements and results. If it’s a new area, make your new passion clear. Explain how your previous role helps the new role. Prepare by writing a FAQ for the job. “Interview questions for x role.”
Q: I was asked a question that I had no experience in. What should I have done?
A: Start with I haven’t been in that situation or I don’t have a specific example. Offer to answer hypothetically or can answer another question.
Q: Resume tips?
A: Need numbers above the top fold (top ½ of your resume). You get 10 seconds.
They don’t care what you were responsible for. What did you do? What actions? What are you better at?
When researching the company, look at what they are looking for or what is important to them. For example, Amazon is a data driven company. They will want lots of data points on your resume. They are really only looking for numbers. Every # on your resume should have an answer. Need step-by-step answer or story.
Q: What questions can we ask you that says we really want the job?
A: I have 2-3 more interviews. What can I do to improve?
Ask about the type of work that you do. What challenges will I run into and how do you handle them? Do not be unclear about the role.
DO NOT ASK What’s your favorite category at Amazon? Any generic questions.
Q: How do I approach a skill question?
A: Take the job description and skills. Go over all the skills there and review and refresh them.
If on the phone interview – ask questions and for feedback.
Examples – Does that answer your question? Is this what you’re looking for?
Q: When’s the earliest I can apply? For example, I want a job at Amazon 6 months from now.
A: Don’t apply more than 2 months beyond when you are available.
Q: Is there any difference between applying and interviewing for an internship vs. regular employment?
A: No difference. The internship interview may move faster, but it’s all the same parts.
Result of my 1-1 with an Amazon Recruiter
Background: I had identified product manager as the job I wanted. I haven’t learned SQL and don’t have an MBA (yet). Up until this point, I had applied for a dozen different positions at Amazon in an attempt to transition out of biotech.
Question: With a background in biotech and entrepreneurship (I started my own biotech company), what positions can I realistically get called back for at Amazon?
Answer: Business intelligence analyst, business intelligence. They take subsets of data and figure out how to deliver solutions to customers. It’s mostly tracking data. Or business engineering where you take raw data and make it useful to the customers. You would have to teach yourself SQL (pronounced sequel) before you’d qualify.
Question: What if I want to get away from heavy data analytics?
Answer: Marketing because of the entrepreneurship background. But it’s a stretch. They take the data and use it to ask the right questions. Actually, a program manager would be the most appropriate. You would work with development teams and relay the requirements to get to customers. You break down the data. It’s like you’re the liaison between the data, the developers, and the customers. You’d want to focus on non-technical. Since you have a background in excel, different teams or companies may be good for you. But for Amazon, you’d definitely need to know SQL.