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9 Proven Do-s and Don’t-s for the Amazon Interview

Copyright © 2018 by Koalanda LLC. All rights reserved. For information or questions, contact hello@amazonbound.today.



To Kerry.

The best rock-climbing partner I could wish for.



table of contents



about the author



Hi! I’m Nick.

In 2013, I joined Amazon and co-founded Amazon Game Studios in a series of direct pitches to Amazon’s CEO, Jeff Bezos. Amazon has since invested hundreds of millions of dollars in the gaming space, by acquiring the game-streaming platform Twitch, developing its own 3D game engine (Lumberyard,) and building top-budget games in its internal studios.

In the following five years, I developed deep knowledge of the Amazon culture, as an Amazon Technical Principal.

I also became an Amazon Bar Raiser. If you haven’t heard the term, Bar Raisers are highly-esteemed Amazonians who decide whether the company should hire a job candidate or not. In my three-year tenure as a Bar Raiser, I interviewed more than 350 job applicants and was the person who determined whether they raised the Amazon hiring bar.

Lastly, I was an Amazon New Hire Orientation (NHO) Host. NHO Host is the Amazonian with whom new hires spend their first day on the job. During that day, the NHO Host inculcates the new hires in Amazon’s culture.

In 2018, I left Amazon and $1M+ in deferred stock compensation to start a new company: Amazon Bound. With Amazon Bound, I have created a three-part program that helps prepare job applicants to interview with Amazon.

Building anything worthwhile from scratch is scary but is also exciting and formative.

The future is now. This is the time to be a dragon.





what is your most valuable asset?



If I asked you, right now, what was your most valuable asset… How would you respond?

Would you tell me it’s your home? Or your 401k? Your real-estate investments? If you worked for a publicly-traded company, would you tell me it’s your employee stock grants?

Full disclaimer: I would disqualify any of your answers that listed intangible concepts like freedom, and family; like happiness, and health. These are, undeniably, the most valuable things we have, but that’s not what I am asking. I am asking you to choose your Number One quantifiable asset, in terms of its future cash-flow potential.

The answer is simple. If you are younger than, say, 60 – your most valuable asset is your Human Capital. What I refer to as Human Capital is the present value of your future professional earnings from the current point in time to the end of your career. Once you start looking at your net worth in this light, your professional outlook will change. It’s not about what you’ve accumulated to date, but about what you’ll accumulate in the future.

Human Capital quantifies your opportunity cost and gives you an unbiased (yet somewhat harsh) framework to make future tradeoff decisions. Should you start a business? Should you invest in the stock market? Should you pursue a tenured academic career?

How about a wholly different option? How about joining a FAANG company (Facebook, Apple, Amazon, Netflix, or Google?)

Becoming a FAANG full-time employee is a no-brainer when it comes to investing in your Human Capital. And that is where I can be of service to you: I know Amazon’s culture cold and can share actionable advice to help you get employed there, if you really wanted to make that leap.

Another full disclaimer: becoming an Amazonian, first; and being successful as an Amazonian, second; is not going to be easy. But it will definitely help your Human Capital soar. You will forever benefit from learning Amazon’s business and Amazon’s culture. And no one can take that away from you... Ever.

So, if you want to let Amazon invest in your Human Capital (by hiring you,) you should read this guide. It is a part of a broader program called Amazon Bound that I have developed to help job candidates get employed by Amazon.

This guide is most effective as part of Amazon Bound. However, even on its own, the guide could help you invest in your future self.

Good luck.



what is amazon bound and how this guide fits in?



9 Proven Do-s and Don’t-s for the Amazon Interview” is a smaller portion of the broader Amazon Bound program.

what is amazon bound?

Amazon Bound is a three-part program that helps prepare job applicants to interview with Amazon.

The program is designed by me, a five-year Amazon veteran, and a former Bar Raiser. Amazon Bound has three independent, yet related, parts that build on each other, like sequential steps in a larger progression:

Part 1: The Essential Course to Prepare for the Amazon Interview – In Part 1, candidates take the online course, “The Essential Course to Prepare for the Amazon Interview.” What makes this course different from other such products in the market segment, is my deep knowledge of the Amazon culture, developed during my tenure as an Amazon Principal and an Amazon Bar Raiser.

By the end of Part 1, candidates will be able to effectively present their professional experience in Amazon’s behavioral format. They will also be able to confidently apply Amazon’s Leadership Principles when interviewing there. Most importantly, candidates will have accumulated a portfolio with written responses, all based on how Amazon interviews applicants today. The course focuses exclusively on Amazon’s practices but is likely to also help candidates interview well at other companies.

Part 2: The Complete Workshop to Prepare for the Amazon Interview – In Part 2, candidates attend the in-person workshop, “The Complete Workshop to Prepare for the Amazon Interview.” The day-long workshop takes place in Seattle and helps candidates craft their professional experience via Amazon’s behavioral SOAR (situation-obstacle-action-results) format. Candidates participate in Leadership-Principle case studies and write their top professional accomplishments and failures in the SOAR output. Candidates also present their accomplishments to each other and learn by doing, with instant feedback of what works and what to improve.

One candidate per workshop participates in a live Amazon interview that ends with a “hire” or a “no-hire” recommendation, as practiced by Amazon. Lastly, candidates participate in a hands-on exercise of how to effectively write the interview written samples Amazon requires from senior-level job applicants.

Part 3: The Live Simulation of the Amazon Interview Loop – In Part 3, candidates participate in “The Live Simulation of the Amazon Interview Loop.” During the simulation, candidates interview with current Amazon employees, individually matched to the candidate’s job level and function.

After the interview loop, candidates attend their own debrief as “a fly on the wall.” During the debrief, candidates witness the interview team deliberate and decide whether to “hire” the candidate based on Amazon’s Leadership Principles and functional competencies.

Lastly, if needed, candidates find out how to evolve from a “no-hire” to a “hire” outcome. This type of coaching is valuable because of the following three considerations: 1) Amazon does not provide official interview feedback to rejected candidates; 2) Amazon keeps a confidential record of each interviewee; and 3) Amazon prefers that rejected candidates wait for 6 to 12 months before applying for another open job requisition (to ameliorate any prior interview deficiencies.) In contrast, during our simulation, candidates receive constructive feedback, without the outcome counting against them.

You can find out more about the Amazon Bound program at https://amazonbound.today or by emailing us at hello@amazonbound.today.

how does this guide fit in?

The guide, “9 Proven Do-s and Don’t-s for the Amazon Interview,” is one of several sections included in “The Essential Course to Prepare for the Amazon Interview.” The guide is most useful when consumed as part of the full online course, but it could also help when used on its own.



introduction to 9 proven do-s and don’t-s for the amazon interview



This guide will cover 9 tactical recommendations of what to do and what not to do when you interview with Amazon. These tactical recommendations aren’t meant to provide an exhaustive list of how to interview well. Far from it. But they do represent proven best practices that you should be mindful of when interviewing with Amazon.

Each of the 9 recommendations will present two contrasting role-playing scenarios: 1) how a well-prepared candidate behaves; vs. 2) what a poorly-prepared candidate does.

Let’s go!



9 Proven Do-s and Don’t-s for the Amazon Interview

  1. Prepare Before the Interview.

  2. Simplify your Written Sample.

  3. Be Specific/Use data.

  4. Don’t Repeat the same Answers with Different Interviewers.

  5. Ask for help/Clarifying Questions.

  6. It’s OK to be Wrong (as long as you use data.)

  7. Be Authentic and Humble.

  8. Show Passion for Amazon.

  9. Ask bold Questions (a mix of Prepared ones and Deduced ones.)



1. prepare before the interview



The well-prepared candidate would assemble a list with 20 professional accomplishments and 5 professional failures. You should study Amazon’s 14 Leadership Principles and then match each of your accomplishments (and failures) with the Leadership Principle(s) that they illustrate best.

If you’ve done a good job at selecting 20 substantial accomplishments, each is likely to illustrate multiple Leadership Principles. Next, you should review the resulting matrix between Leadership Principles, on the one hand, and professional accomplishments, on the other. You should do that to ensure that each Leadership Principle is paired with, at least, two to three accomplishments.

Then, you should describe each of your accomplishments (and failures) in one page using Amazon’s SOAR methodology.

Your ultimate goal is to enter the Amazon interview having prepared written one-page descriptions of your top 20 accomplishments. As a result, each time you are asked a question, you would mentally scan through your list of accomplishments and provide the response that answers the question best. In a way, you would have written your professional autobiography before the interview. Not only would you have written your biography, but annotated it and indexed it, such that at any point, you could fire away your most relevant accomplishment (or failure) for the specific question during the interview.

Therefore, you would be ready to effectively “product-manage your interview” and match each question you hear with the best written response you have prepared ahead of time.

In contrast, the poorly-prepared candidate would improvise with an answer, on the fly. I’m not saying it’s impossible to perform well in that scenario. Quite the opposite. You could be a gifted interviewee who doesn’t need to prepare. Good for you. The majority of the rest of us, though, would need to prepare, ahead of time.



summary of 1. prepare before the interview

DO: Prepare a list of 20+ professional accomplishments and 5+ professional failures in the SOAR methodology and pair each with Amazon’s Leadership Principles. When you are asked a question, scan through the list and give the answer that fits best.

DON’T: Improvise a “good” answer on the fly.



2. simplify your written sample



Amazon ensures that candidates for senior-level positions (Level 6+) can write clearly and succinctly. If you are applying for a senior-level role, Amazon Recruiting will ask you to respond in writing to one of two behavioral questions.

Amazon does not expect you to be a perfect writer. They don’t expect you to be trained in the ways of the Amazon written delivery. However, they are looking for competent writers who can clearly describe issues and recommend solutions. It’s important that the written response you share is your own. It’s also important that you do not share any confidential information by your current or past employers.

At this point, you should choose one of the two behavioral questions you received and respond to it with one of the 20 SOAR professional accomplishments you prepared earlier. When writing the sample, you should focus on simplicity and substance. Don’t embellish. Write, edit, proofread a couple of times, and then turn in your work. You want to give your interview loop as many days (or hours) as possible to read your response. Be factual and follow the SOAR methodology. That’s what a well-prepared person would do.

In contrast, the poorly-prepared candidate would write a long and flowery response. He takes his time turning in the sample. And tries to embellish and impress the interviewers with his writing. He also uses lots of adjectives and little data. Please, do not make this mistake.

You might ask how you’d know if you are applying for a Level 6+ role (a summary of Amazon’s corporate levels is available at the end of this chapter,) which requires a written sample, versus a lower-level role, which doesn’t.

The honest answer is that there is no sure way to know. Amazon does not publicize the levels for their open roles, externally. They use the same jobs database internally and externally, but hide certain fields from the external view (job level, Hiring Manager, etc.) You could maybe deduce what the job level is, based on the role’s title and description. But you’re not going to know for sure, until the recruiter asks you (or not) for a written sample.

Nonetheless, even if you are applying for a lower-level role (L4 or L5,) and therefore are not required to provide a written sample, you should still submit one. You should reach out to the recruiter and say something like: “Hey, you have not asked for a written sample, but I prepared one anyway. Look at this professional accomplishment that I’m incredibly proud of, and please, share it with my hiring loop, if possible.”

Your recruiter and interview loop are going to be impressed. So, no matter what, you should prepare a written sample. And you’re going to find out if you need it or not, when your onsite interview comes due. Then, send the sample in regardless.





summary of amazon’s corporate levels

L3 and L4 – Entry level employee, fulfillment center associate, admin, etc.

L5 – Individual contributor (IC) or a manager who manages entry and mid-level employees.

L6 – Sr. IC or a manager who manages other managers.

L7 – Principal or a sr. manager who manages other managers.

L8 – Director, manages managers, sr. managers, or sr. principals.

L10 – VP, runs large orgs or business units, manages directors, principals, or sr. principals.

L11 – Sr. VP or CEO, runs large business units and organizations.

L12 – Jeff Bezos.



summary of 2. simplify your written sample

DO: Choose one of your 20+ professional accomplishments and describe it in two pages. Focus on simplicity and substance. Turn it in quickly.

DON’T: Write a long response. Take your time turning it in. Use flowery language that tries to impress the interviewers.



3. be specific/use data



Next, we’re going to jump into the functional aspects of the Amazon interview. Let’s say you are applying for an open product-marketing position. And, let’s say your interviewer asks you the following scenario question to test your functional skills: “You have a budget of one million US dollars to launch a new version of the Amazon Fire tablet in France. How would you spend the money?”

How would you respond?

You’ve got to be specific. And, you’ve got to use data.

Being specific reveals courage: that’s something that Amazon values highly. A well-prepared candidate would respond with something along the following lines: “Great! I would select an external vendor on Fiverr or Upwork and spend $1,000 to $1,500 to design the campaign visual ID for the new tablet. Then, I would spend $400,000 to $445,000 to recruit the top four Millennial social influencers in France to help us market the tablet. Prior to launch, I would fly them to a fancy hotel in Paris (Shangri-La Paris, for instance) and I’d give them a demo of the new device before anybody else has seen it. Then I would spend $155,000 to… So on and so forth.”

You’ve got to be specific. You’ve got to use data to sound credible. You also have to justify where your data came from. The more specific you are and the more data you use, the better off you’re going to be.

In contrast, the poorly-prepared candidate would use generalities and wave hands. He says “it depends” a lot. He responds to the above question with something like: “Well, what I do will depend on the product-market fit. It will also depend on our customer strategy. And it will also depend on what Jeff Bezos says. So on and so forth.” Answering any Amazon question in this fashion will result in a “no-hire” decision. Don’t use such language.

By all means, do say “it depends,” but also be specific. Provide a factual response, after the “it-depends” clause. Going back to our marketing scenario question, I would say: “Well, it depends on who the top four French Millennial influencers are. I am not going to spend $445,000, based on secondary research. Instead, I will collect primary data by spending $10,000 on a Survey Monkey survey to poll 5,000 Millennials from Paris, Marseille, and Lyon. And I will select the top four social influencers based on the responses from that survey. Once I know who the top four are, I will recruit them, pay them the $445,000, and fly them to the fancy Shangri-La hotel. So on and so forth.”

Be specific. Be courageous. Commit. That’s going to do you wonders during the Amazon interview.



summary of 3. be specific/use data

SAMPLE QUESTION: “You have $1M to launch a new version of Fire Tablet in France. How would you spend the money?”

DO: “I would spend $1.5K to design the campaign visual ID on Fiverr. Then I would spend $445K on the top four Millennial social influencers in France and would fly them to the Shangri-La Paris to give them a demo of the new device. Then I would spend…”

DON’T: “Well, it depends on the product-market fit, and on what Bezos says, and on what our strategy is, and on...”



4. don’t repeat the same answers with different interviewers



The well-prepared person would describe her professional career using numerous diverse examples. You should have multiple answers ready to go, as unpacked SOAR one-pagers (that you prepared during Step 1 in our guide.)

Given that the average Amazon loop consists of four to six people, you should monitor which answer you’ve given to which interviewer. Avoid repeating the answers you’ve already used and make sure that the loop, in total, hears a diverse set of your prepared responses.

If you absolutely must repeat an answer, let your interviewer know and provide a second response, as an alternative. It would be great if your loop gets 20+ answers, in total.

Using 20+ answers in the interview will be beneficial, because when the interviewers compare notes during the debrief they will be more likely to conclude that you have well-balanced professional experience.

In contrast, the poorly-prepared person would use the same couple of answers over and over. He provides an insignificant number of total responses: ten or fewer. As a Bar Raiser, I have seen cases where individual interviewers had initially voted to hire a candidate (at Amazon, you have to vote first before you can see how others voted.) However, the interviewers changed their votes to “not-inclined,” after seeing that the candidate had recycled the same handful of responses throughout the loop. Don’t make that mistake.



summary of 4. don’t repeat the same answers with different interviewers

DO: Prepare ahead of time and list the multiple answers you will be using. With the average Amazon loop consisting of four to six people, keep track of which answers you’ve already given and make sure the loop gets 20+ different responses.

DON’T: Use the same 2-3 answers with each interviewer. Use fewer than 10 total responses.



5. ask for help/clarifying questions



When preparing to interview with Amazon, asking for help seems like counter-intuitive advice. Amazon is a highly-competent company. You will interview with highly professional people. Asking for help seems like the last thing you should do.

But you should definitely do it.

The well-prepared person would not be afraid to ask follow-up questions. Particularly if the interviewer’s original question is vague or broad. Sometimes, the interviewer will ask a broad question on purpose (without meaning to mislead you, of course.) They might ask such a question to see how you’d respond to ambiguity. They might test your Backbone (one of Amazon’s Leadership Principles) to make sure you are comfortable with pushing back and asking for clarification. Are you willing to Dive Deep (another Amazon Leadership Principle) and do the follow-up work required to provide a quality response?

When you respond to scenario questions (especially coding ones,) you should talk out-loud while you are solving the problem. If an interviewer asks you to write code on the whiteboard, you should walk her through your work. Don’t be afraid to reveal the building blocks of your thinking, even if you aren’t sure of the correct answer initially.

People at Amazon genuinely want to hire you. They’re not trying to trip you while interviewing you. They do want to hire you. And they will help you along, if you show your work and help them see the inklings of a good response.

So, do ask for help, show your work, and walk interviewers through your thought process.

In contrast, the poorly-prepared candidate would suffer in silence. Or even worse, answer the question rashly. When he doesn’t like a question, he would jump in with the first response that comes to mind, wishing for the question to go away. He’s hoping (against hope) that the interviewer will move on.

That’s not a good strategy. Don’t try to answer any Amazon question rashly. Don’t try to impress the interviewer for the sheer sake of doing so. Breathe. Wait for them to finish asking you a question. Then count to five. Ask for clarification. And, again, show your work.



summary of 5. ask for help/clarifying questions

DO: Ask clarifying follow-up questions if the interviewer’s initial question is unclear or too broad. Sometimes the interviewer will intentionally inject ambiguity to test your Backbone and Dive Deep.

DO: For coding/scenario questions, walk the interviewer through your thought process and the steps you are taking to resolve the problem.

DON’T: Jump in, answering the question rashly. Try to impress the interviewer. Suffer in silence.



6. it’s ok to be wrong (as long as you use data)



Let’s say the interviewer wants to test the functional chops of a Technical Product Manager (TPM) candidate in the Amazon Echo team. The interviewer, then, asks the following scenario question: “You’re the TPM in charge of launching Amazon Echo in Brazil. You have 12 months until launch. How do you make launch happen?”

Let’s also assume that: 1) this candidate has done strong TPM work for other projects but has zero subject-matter expertise in Amazon Echo; and 2) this candidate is you.

How would you answer? What do you do?

You should answer the question anyway.

Interviewers might ask you scenario questions in a field you know little about, because they want to test your functional muscles and your adaptability to new information.

Don’t be afraid to be wrong. Provide specific, data-based answers. Show your work. Ask clarifying questions. We’ve covered some of this already. It’s OK to be wrong.

Make specific assertions and back them with data. The interviewer might disagree with you. He might even correct you, if your data is wrong. But he will always respect your answer because it is specific and supported by the best available data you have.

Let’s go back to our French-Millennials example from Step 3, to further illustrate the point. In our hypothetical response, we had said we’d recruit the top four influencers in France for $445,000 total. What if this estimate is wildly incorrect and the right cost is closer to $4M?

What if your interviewer calls you on it? How would you respond?

You should remain calm and explain the logic you used to arrive at your data estimate. Don’t worry that you were wrong, initially. You could respond with something like: “$4M? I was not aware that the tablet segment is so different. My experience comes from the board-games space, where paying $445,000 would have been enough to recruit the top four. I see that won’t be enough here. In this case, let’s just book one influencer for $445,000.”

And, then, you carry on.

Amazon doesn’t care if you didn’t guess the exact data point in a field you don’t know. They care that you are courageous and specific. They care that you are comfortable with using data to make logical, high-quality decisions under pressure.

If anything, the interviewer will be even more impressed that you remained calm in an unfamiliar territory. One of Amazon’s Leadership Principles is Right a Lot, not “right all the time.” Don’t forget that.

Do not be afraid to make big assumptions and support them with your best data estimates. As long as you are Right a Lot, you’re going to do fine.

In contrast, the poorly-prepared candidate would be timid. He’s unwilling to commit. He waves his hands and answers safely. He answers with generalities. Don’t do that.



summary of 6. it’s ok to be wrong (as long as you use data)

SAMPLE QUESTION: “You are the TPM in charge of launching Amazon Echo in Brazil. You have 12 months until launch. How will you make launch happen?”

DO: Ask clarifying questions. Be specific and show your work. Commit. It’s OK to be wrong, as long your data is directionally accurate. One of Amazon’s Leadership Principles is Right a Lot, not right-all-the-time.

DON’T: Be timid. Be afraid to commit. Answer safely and in generalities.



7. be authentic and humble



During the Amazon interview, a typical interviewer is tasked to examine (with behavioral questions) two to three Leadership Principles. The Bar Raiser, however, will evaluate the candidate’s broader professional countenance to determine whether she raises the bar.

Therefore, you should be prepared to answer questions that cover multiple Leadership Principles, at once. A good such question is: “Tell me about your biggest professional failure.”

The well-prepared candidate would be very candid with her response. You should be too.

You should be authentic and vocally self-critical. While vocally self-critical is not a standalone Leadership Principle, it is a key subset of the Leadership Principle Earn Trust. You could respond to the above question in roughly the following way: “Where do I start? We all make mistakes. A big one I made recently was such and such. That’s what I did wrong; fully on me. However, I took the learnings from the experience and applied them in a different XYZ occasion later, and resolved the issue. And I delivered the following specific results, which I would not have been able to accomplish without my significant prior failure.”

That’s a fantastic response. Notice, how you shouldn’t beat yourself up on your failure. Everyone makes mistakes. You should just state it as a matter of fact. Be candid about it. Admit to it and then focus on how the failure helped augment your future skills.

In contrast, the poorly-prepared candidate would respond with: “I don’t have a big professional failure.” And the Bar Raiser would flag two concerns with this response: 1) you are not genuine about your prior failures, which is un-Amazonian and raises a flag on Earn Trust; or 2) you really are a person without a big professional failure, which raises a different flag on Leadership Principles like Bias for Action, Deliver Results, Learn and be Curious, Invent and Simplify, etc.

A different mistake you could make is to describe a trivial miss as your biggest professional failure. You could say something like: “You see, my biggest professional failure was failing to print enough paper copies for a presentation my VP gave to the board last year.”

That’s an OK failure, but Amazon is looking for something much bigger. They are looking for how you made a “cringe-worthy” error that negatively impacted the business. And then, how you learned and impacted the business even more, in the positive direction. Most importantly, they want to see that you own your mistakes and that you have reinvented yourself for the better, in the process.



summary of 7. be authentic and humble

SAMPLE QUESTION: “Tell me about your biggest professional failure.”

DO: “Where do I start? We all make mistakes. A big one I made recently was such and such. That’s what I did wrong; fully on me. However, I took the learnings from the experience and applied them in a different XYZ occasion later, and resolved the issue.”

DON’T: “I don’t have a big professional failure.”

DON’T: My biggest professional failure is something trivial.



8. show passion for amazon



Showing passion for Amazon during the interview should be common sense. But it’s not. And it trips a surprising number of interviewees. If you get the question: “Why do you want to be an Amazonian,” the best response is to describe why you, personally, would be excited to work for Amazon.

With such a question, it’s OK to be vulnerable. It’s OK to show passion for Amazon. You can talk about being a Prime customer and loving your free two-day shipping. Or you can rave about how Amazon accepts your returns without charging you a fee. Or you can admit how you binge-watched “Jack Ryan” by Amazon Studios. Or you could say how you took a stroll down 6th Avenue in Seattle and saw the Amazon Spheres and were impressed by their architectural beauty.

Whatever the answer, let it be personal.

But also, don’t limit your response to that of a fanboy. Do share data you have learned about the products and services of the Amazon team where interview. If you know your facts, and show that you have done your homework, and, to boot, are genuinely excited about the company, you would earn major dividends.

In contrast, the poorly-prepared candidate would answer in generalities that are applicable to other companies. He responds with something like: “I want to work for Amazon because it’s a fast-paced company, where I’m going to be surrounded by smart young people, and will work on problems that matter to humankind.”

This is all fine and good, but is also applicable to other companies. If you choose one of those responses, describe why Amazon is a special place when compared to a Google, or a Facebook, or an Airbnb. Say something like: “I want to work on things that impact humankind. And I do believe that Alexa provides such a path forward. I cannot express how passionate I am for Alexa. I can imagine a future where my house converses with me and Alexa’s general AI understands and automates the daily tasks around me. So on and so forth.”

Again, make it relevant to Amazon.

A different mistake that the poorly-prepared candidate would make is answer this question as if he’s a consultant. He states how he is a perfect fit for Amazon and how Amazon would be foolish if they didn’t hire him. And, then, adds that he’s worked on identical projects earlier in his career. And that he has a killer set of industry contacts. So on and so forth.

This is great. But you should share this information in other portions of the interview. Nothing in the above response describes how passionate you are to join Amazon.



summary of 8. show passion for amazon

SAMPLE QUESTION: “Why do you want to work for Amazon?”

DO: Describe why YOU want to be an Amazonian. It’s OK to be vulnerable. Talk about things that you personally love about Amazon.

DON’T: Answer in generalities that could also apply to other tech companies.

DON’T: Describe how you are a perfect fit for the role and how Amazon would be foolish not to hire you.



9. ask bold questions (a mix of prepared ones and deduced ones)



You will have to respond to tough questions during your Amazon interview. Therefore, you should also prepare as good a set of questions to ask of your interviewers.

The well-prepared candidate would assemble a mix of: 1) prepared questions; and 2) questions that she gleans throughout the interview.

Don’t ask softball questions. Don’t go out of your way to agree with your interviewers. Be genuine and seek the truth, without being antagonistic. Ask questions that reveal your experience with Amazon or your interest in Amazon. Even if your question describes a negative customer experience, Amazon will listen and will appreciate it.

For example, you could ask the following: “I’m not sure how effective the ‘recommended items’ feature is on Amazon. I don’t like how I get recurrent recommendations to buy a new fridge, after I’ve already bought one on Amazon. Buying a fridge is usually a one-time purchase in which I am no longer interested. Are you working to refine how your algorithms distinguish one-time-purchase items from repeat-purchase items?”

That’s hardly a flattering question but the Amazonian in the loop will appreciate it. Your interviewer could even escalate your question to the Amazon team that runs the recommendations algorithm and inquire if the feature could improve. Talk about true Customer Obsession.

You should prepare two to three questions per interviewer, meaning that you should have a list with 10+ questions, in total. And, then, you should add to this list the questions that you’ll deduce from what people tell you during the loop.

Shifting gears to deduced questions, let’s use the following example. Let’s say you’re interviewing for an opening with Alexa. The first interviewer in your loop tells you that Alexa is building a dedicated Amazon Echo edition for children (now public knowledge.) You can use this information to ask the following question later during the day: “Earlier, one of your colleagues told me that you guys are getting into the kids’ space. Have you thought of how COPPA compliance will impact your product features?”

In case you don’t know, The Children's Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) is a US law created to protect the privacy of children under 13. Which means that all companies doing business in the US need to abide by COPPA, if their products are targeting children. You would have found out about COPPA by doing your homework before the interview. And, then, you can formulate a deduced question as soon as your interviewers share relevant information during the loop.

Asking deduced questions is also important because it shows that you can learn quickly, can connect the dots in an unknown environment, and are paying attention.

In contrast, the poorly-prepared candidate wouldn’t think of thoughtful questions in advance and wouldn’t pay attention during the interview. He panders to Amazon. He agrees with everything the interviewers say and nods along like a metronome. Not a good sign.



summary of 9. ask bold questions (a mix of prepared ones and deduced ones)

DO: Come with a mix of prepared questions and questions you glean from prior interviewers. Ask genuine questions that promote Truth Seeking over Social Cohesion.

DON’T: Fail to prepare enough questions. Pander to Amazon.



this is not the end



Congratulations! We have reached the end of this short guide.

You now have had some exposure to what it’s like to interview with Amazon and, hopefully, are feeling more confident that you can perform well in the Amazon interview.

I know you can. It’s just a matter of preparation.

It’s a matter of believing in yourself and of having done the appropriate amount of work to prepare for the interview. It’s about practicing, so that when it matters, in battle, during your Amazon interview, you are going to “product-manage” the encounter and ace the experience. This guide has hopefully helped some, to put you on a trajectory to do so.

The advice here represents a small portion of our broader services. You can find out more about our Amazon Bound program by visiting https://amazonbound.today.

Alternatively, you can choose among the individual program links below:

  • Part 1: The Essential Course to Prepare for the Amazon Interview, on Udemy,

  • Part 2: The Complete Workshop to Prepare for the Amazon Interview, on Airbnb,

  • Part 3: The Live Simulation of the Amazon Interview Loop, on Airbnb.

Lastly, please email us at hello@amazonbound.today. Let us know which parts of this guide we can improve. And, let us know if you’ve applied any of these learnings in your interview.

Best of luck. I know you can invest in your Human Capital. I believe in you. And I do look forward to staying in touch.



Nick Dimitrov

Seattle, WA



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