You can expect to face behavioral questions when interviewing for a position at Amazon. These questions are designed to get a sense of how you have behaved in certain situations in the past and conclude if your responses are raising the bar or not. The bar, in this case, is behaviors that your interviewers can expect to see from current Amazonians doing similar jobs at the same job level.
Your Amazon interviewers want to know how you reacted in a particular situation, what behaviors you demonstrated and what you learned from the experience. The behaviors they need to see should align with Amazon’s 16 Leadership Principles.
This article will discuss some of the most common questions about behavioral interviews at Amazon that we get from candidates and provide answers that will help you prepare for your interview.
Evgeny Bik and Gayle Gallagher (GG), co-founders of Day One Careers, wrote this article. GG spent five years at Amazon as a senior leader in Prime Video and Amazon Fresh in the UK. Evgeny spent over three years at Amazon as a senior leader in Amazon Launchpad and Amazon Devices in Europe. In addition, GG and Evgeny were Hiring Managers and interviewers for their teams and partner organizations. Both GG and Evgeny are Amazon job interview experts.
In addition, GG was a qualified Amazon Bar Raiser – an independent decision-maker with veto power over the hiring manager in the Amazon interview process. Before joining Amazon, GG and Evgeny had careers in multi-national Tech, FMCG, and Retail companies.
Finally, after leaving Amazon, Evgeny spent one year at Apple as an eCommerce lead in IMMEA (Apple’s developing markets organization).
We created Day One Careers to provide everyone with expert Amazon interview preparation resources. We’re incredibly proud of our free and paid resources, and we encourage you to explore our blog and YouTube channel for more expert guidance.
What is a behavioral interview?
A behavioral interview is an opportunity for the interviewer to learn about your past behavior to understand how you might behave in the future. This type of interview is based on the premise that your past behavior indicates your future behavior.
During the interview, you are expected to focus on the essential details of your professional situations and accomplishments. You’ll need to use the STAR Method to package these details into a coherent story.
What are the Amazon behavioral interview questions?
Amazon interview questions assess candidates’ core competencies or LPs in Amazon parlance. The questions are generally based on real-life scenarios that Amazon candidates may encounter while on the job. Some common Amazon behavioral interview questions include:
- Tell me about a time when you dealt with a demanding customer.
- Tell me about a time when you made a wrong decision.
Amazon interview questions such as these help the business establish if the candidate “raises the bar” and could be hired by the company. It’s hard to predict exactly what questions you will be asked during the interview as it heavily depends on the role you’re interviewing for.
Why does Amazon use behavioral interviews?
Amazon uses behavioral interviews to dig for evidence that the candidate has previously demonstrated the required competencies (Amazon Leadership Principles). This is the essence of the behavioral interview process.
Behavioral interviewing has proven to be successful at predicting candidates’ future performance. Amazon takes a very structured approach to this process, and all Amazon interviewers are trained in using behavioral interview techniques.
What is Amazon’s interview process?
Amazon’s interview process usually begins with an Online Assessment. It then progresses through a series of interviews crescendoing with a panel of, typically, five back-to-back interviews called a Loop.
Amazon typically asks three to four questions during each behavioral round. Amazon Bar Raisers are always present at Amazon interviews to serve as independent and unbiased third parties and supervise the Amazon hiring process.
What are Amazon behavioral interview questions?
Amazon hiring process is quite rigid, and in most cases, the questions will come from what’s called Amazon Interview Question Bank. These are official interview questions that all interviewers are encouraged to use. That said, interviewers can and often do deviate from the question bank, so treat these questions cautiously. All Amazon behavioral interview questions ask for examples of situations from your professional past.
How can you make the most of your behavioral interview with Amazon?
Take the time to ask questions at the end of the interview. This will help you better understand Amazon’s culture, your future team’s situation, work-life balance, and whether the actual job matches or exceeds what was written in the job description. Remember, taking a job is one of the most important decisions of your life. So, by asking questions, you can be sure that you are making the best choice for your future.
What do you need to do to ensure a successful outcome in your interview with Amazon?
Needless to say, you need to answer behavioral interview questions exceptionally well to “raise the bar”. This required in-depth preparation and practice.
But learning how to manage stress and relax under pressure is equally important. If you’re “in the zone” you will find it easier to recall professional situations from your short-term memory and use the STAR Method to frame them into coherent responses.
How can you demonstrate your skills and experience when answering behavioral interview questions with Amazon?
During your Amazon behavioral interview, your skills and experience must shine through your accomplishments. This is because skills and experience that don’t carry results do not matter to Amazon and won’t be taken as evidence. Ensure that every story you share has an impactful results section at the end.
What are some key things you need to remember when interviewing with Amazon?
Some candidates believe that it’s ok to share personal and professional interests during interviews. We beg to differ. Based on our experience as former Senior Leaders (and one Bar Raiser), we recommend you rely on your professional experience as much as possible. Having interesting personal interests is a cherry on the cake that will help you bond with your team once you join Amazon. But it won’t be a deciding factor during your interviews.
What challenges can you expect during your Amazon interview?
Interview challenges are always in the eye of the beholder. This is because different candidates will respond to different situations in their way. That said, here are some of the most common challenges you can expect:
- Amazon interview Loop scheduled over one day could be too intense, so consider splitting it over two days.
- Your equipment can fail and complicate an online interview, so ensure you test your cameras and headsets well in advance.
How do you deal with stress during your interview with Amazon?
Most candidates feel somewhat anxious during interviews. Many are concerned about Amazon Bar Raisers and believe they are very rigorous with their questions. Fortunately, there are many things you can do to relieve stress during Amazon behavioral interviews. Here are some techniques from our community:
- Thorough preparation will alleviate 90% of anxiety. Prepare for the interview by thoroughly studying Amazon’s LPs, preparing stories, and practicing with others.
- Visualize yourself succeeding in the Amazon interview by imagining how you will answer each question.
- Take deep breaths and focus on your breathing to help you stay calm.
- Remind yourself that Amazon invites candidates to interview for a reason; Amazon believes in your ability to succeed.
What should you do if you don’t know how to answer some Amazon behavioral interview questions?
While this is not an ideal situation, there are a few things you can do to mitigate the fallout from not knowing how to answer.
Your first recourse is to clarify the question. Some questions are worded in a way that’s not straightforward, so clarifying them with the interviewer will help kick your mind into recalling a story.
The second option is to admit that you cannot recall “this particular context” and propose to respond about a related experience.
What are Amazon’s 16 Leadership Principles?
Amazon’s Leadership Principles are core competencies that are at the heart of Amazon’s DNA. Amazon expects all Amazonians to embody these principles in their day-to-day work. Amazon’s 16 Leadership Principles are:
Leaders start with the customer and work backwards. They work vigorously to earn and keep customer trust. Although leaders pay attention to competitors, they obsess over customers.
Our take: Many Amazonians believe this is the most fundamental of all Amazon Leadership Principles. Most behavioral questions at Amazon will kick off with Customer Obsession, and this LP tends to be critical for most roles. Questions related to customer satisfaction, dealing with a difficult customer, and helping a customer immediately will be found under this LP.
Bias for Action
Speed matters in business. Many decisions and actios are reversible and do not need extensive study. We value calculated risk taking.
Our take: A candidate will most likely be asked behavioral questions about when they took a calculated risk or needed to make a business decision without consulting a manager.
Leaders are owners. They think long term and don’t sacrifice long-term value for short-term results. They act on behalf of the entire company, beyond just their own team. They never say “that’s not my job.”
Our take: Behavioral questions under this Leadership Principle call for situations where you own your dependencies and outcomes.
Invent & Simplify
Leaders expect and require innovation and invention from their teams and always find ways to simplify. They are externally aware, look for new ideas from everywhere, and are not limited by “not invented here.” As we do new things, we accept that we may be misunderstood for long periods of time.
Our take: Another LP at the heart of Amazon’s innovation DNA. This is where a candidate can be asked to share the most innovative idea or method they have ever come up with.
Are Right, a Lot
Leaders are right a lot. They have strong judgment and good instincts. They seek diverse perspectives and work to disconfirm their beliefs.
Our take: Behavioral questions under this Leadership Principle will likely call for situations where you exercised great judgment while leveraging your expertise.
Learn & Be Curious
Leaders are never done learning and always seek to improve themselves. They are curious about new possibilities and act to explore them.
Our take: Here, you’re likely to encounter questions that call for situations where you can demonstrate a never-ending and insatiable appetite for learning and constantly bettering yourself.
Hire & Develop the Best
Leaders raise the performance bar with every hire and promotion. They recognize exceptional talent, and willingly move them throughout the organization.
Leaders develop leaders and take seriously their role in coaching others. We work on behalf of our people to invent mechanisms for development like Career Choice.
Our take: This LP is related to “Strive to be Earth’s Best Employer” because it elevates talent management to a critical competency at Amazon.
Insist on the Highest Standards
Leaders have relentlessly high standards — many people may think these standards are unreasonably high. Leaders are continually raising the bar and drive their teams to deliver high quality products, services, and processes. Leaders ensure that defects do not get sent down the line and that problems are fixed so they stay fixed.
Our take: This is where you must demonstrate constant dissatisfaction with the present moment and the urge to improve things around you.
Thinking small is a self-fulfilling prophecy. Leaders create and communicate a bold direction that inspires results. They think differently and look around corners for ways to serve customers.
Our take: Prepare to answer behavioral questions about having a bold vision and driving it through the organisation.
Accomplish more with less. Constraints breed resourcefulness, self-sufficiency, and invention. There are no extra points for growing headcount, budget size, or fixed expense.
Our take: Behavioral questions under this LP are unlikely to appear in your interviews unless you aim for a role in Finance, Procurement, and similar functions.
Leaders operate at all levels, stay connected to the details, audit frequently, and are skeptical when metrics and anecdote differ. No task is beneath them.
Our take: Critical Leadership Principle at Amazon given that it is a Big Data organization that relies on fact-based decision-making.
Leaders listen attentively, speak candidly, and treat others respectfully. They are vocally self-critical, even when doing so is awkward or embarrassing. Leaders do not believe their or their team’s body odor smells of perfume. They benchmark themselves and their teams against the best.
Our take: Prepare to answer behavioral questions about addressing negative feedback from colleagues.
Have Backbone; Disagree and Commit
Leaders are obligated to respectfully challenge decisions when they disagree, even when doing so is uncomfortable or exhausting. Leaders have conviction and are tenacious. They do not compromise for the sake of social cohesion. Once a decision is determined, they commit wholly.
Our take: behavioral questions under this LP will likely ask for situations where you stood up for your beliefs in uncomfortable situations.
Leaders focus on the key inputs for their business and deliver them with the right quality and in a timely fashion. Despite setbacks, they rise to the occasion and never settle.
Our take: Behavioral questions under this LP often ask for stories where a candidate had to deliver on an essential objective or manage a project effectively despite conflicting priorities.
Success & Scale Bring Broad Responsibility
We started in a garage, but we’re not there anymore. We are big, impact the world, and are far from perfect. We must be humble and thoughtful about even the secondary effects of our actions.
Our local communities, planet, and future generations need us to be better every day. We must begin each day with a determination to make better, do better, and be better for our customers, our employees, our partners, and the world at large. And we must end every day knowing we can do even more tomorrow. Leaders create more than they consume and always leave things better than how they found them.
Our Take: Success and Scale Bring Broad Responsibility is one of the two newest LPs recently added to the core 14. This LP reflects Amazon’s maturity as a global organization that influences communities beyond those who directly transact with the business (as customers or suppliers).
Strive to be Earth’s Best Employer
Leaders work every day to create a safer, more productive, higher performing, more diverse, and more just work environment. They lead with empathy, have fun at work, and make it easy for others to have fun.
Leaders ask themselves: Are my fellow employees growing? Are they empowered? Are they ready for what’s next? Leaders have a vision for and commitment to their employees’ personal success, whether that be at Amazon or elsewhere.
Our take: Strive to be Earth’s Best Employer is the second LP from the newest additions to the original 14. This Leadership Principle recognizes that employer success today means managing talent sustainably and inclusively.
Out of all Amazon leadership principles, are there a set of core ones?
If you ask Amazonians, most will probably call out Customer Obsession as the fundamental Leadership Principle at Amazon. However, for the purposes of the interview, we have to advise that there isn’t a universal set of core Leadership Principles.
If you study your job description in detail, you will be able to recognize clues to the LPs that are most relevant to the position. This is because every hiring manager at Amazon must outline give critical Leadership Principles for each role in their team before interviews begin. This set of five core LPs differs from role to role.
What are some common questions asked in an Amazon interview?
Some common behavioral interview questions you might hear at Amazon include:
- Tell us about a time when you had to deal with a demanding customer or client
- Tell us about a time when you had to go above and beyond for a customer
- Tell us about a time when you made a mistake at work and how you handled it
Check out our extensive Amazon interview questions, compiled and vetted by GG and Evgeny.
What are some tips for answering interview questions?
Some tips for answering Amazon interview questions include:
- Be prepared to discuss specific examples from your past work experience.
- Be honest about your behavior and avoid making excuses.
- Take responsibility and ownership for your actions and describe what you learned from the experience.
- Focus on demonstrating positive behaviors such as teamwork, problem-solving, or resilience.
How long do I wait until I can interview with Amazon again?
Being rejected in an Amazon interview does not mean that you will never be able to get a job there again. On the contrary, at Day One Careers, we have helped many candidates who joined Amazon after a few rejections. So how quickly can you reapply after a rejection?
There is no set time limit. Sometimes your Amazon recruiter will advise you of a “cooling off period,” which can be anything between six months to two years. If this is the case, we recommend honoring the cooling-off period and improving your resume with high-impact projects.
If your recruiter did not advise you of a cooling-off period, there is no harm in applying to relevant roles straight away. However, give yourself the time to improve upon any areas you may have struggled with during the last interview.
Can I have notes up during my amazon interview?
You can have notes up during your interview while answering behavioral questions. But there is a caveat. You should avoid reading from a script but have built points instead. Why? While behavioral interviews at Amazon are not a test of your memory, your interviewers want to converse with you.
This means that you need to be flexible and be prepared to adopt a conversational interview style where you won’t be able to deliver the entire story upfront. In addition, reading from a script comes across as robotic and unnatural.
What should I wear for my Amazon behavioral interview?
There is no dress code for Amazon interviews. In addition, neither GG nor Evgeny are equipped to offer fashion advice. Therefore, we recommend you wear something comfortable and err on smart casual.
When should I expect to hear back from Amazon after my interview?
The answer to this question depends on the stage of your interview process. You can typically expect to hear back within two business days for phone interviews. For on-site interviews (also known as “panel” or “loop”), the timeframe is usually within five business days as your interviewers will need to coordinate schedules to have a debrief. Generally, we advise candidates to follow up with their recruiters five business days after their panel (loop) interviews.
How can I prepare for my Amazon behavioral interview?
Preparing to answer Amazon behavioral interview questions usually involves the following:
- Understand Amazon’s peculiar culture and ways of working
- Understand Amazon’s Leadership Principles and review the most common behavioral questions
- Learn STAR Method to frame situations into coherent stories
Ultimately, time is your biggest ally in preparing for Amazon interviews. If you’re pressed for time, we recommend pushing your interviews back.
How long do I need to prepare for an Amazon behavioral interview?
It would be best if you started preparing for behavioral interviews at Amazon as soon as you received the interview notification. If your next step is the phone interview, a few days is usually enough.
However, if your next stage is the panel (loop), we recommend one and a half weeks of preparation. This will give you ample time to study Amazon’s Leadership Principles in detail, reflect on your work experiences and identify relevant examples to discuss during the interview.
Can you share a sample answer for questions X, Y or Z?
Whenever we have a candidate who asks us to share a sample answer to an LP question, we advise against looking for canned responses. Amazon interviewers are looking for genuine responses that reflect your skills and experiences and can quickly tell if you’re regurgitating a sample answer you found on the Internet.
What are some of the questions that will never appear in an Amazon interview?
We’ve researched the Internet to find many websites falsely advising candidates about some of the questions that will never appear in a behavioral interview at Amazon.
Generally, you should not expect any hypotheticals during your behavioral interview. Amazon is looking for evidence on how you solved problems and drove accomplishments in the past, not how you might approach a problem in the future.
Furthermore, Amazon interviewers never ask trick questions such as “how many golf balls can fit in an airplane?”.
Specifically, here are some questions that are highly unlikely to appear in an interview with Amazon:
- How do you proceed if you are given two conflicting priorities from two separate managers?
- Give me an example of a time when you needed to deal with an angry or upset client? (Our take: this seems like an improv on a Customer Obsession theme, but it’s worded in a way that misses the essence of Customer obsession – so likely a fake.)
- Give me an example of when you had to give direction to the engineering team. (Our take: this is a functional competency question related to Product Manager job families at Amazon. It won’t be asked in a behavioral round.)
- If a supervisor asked you to do something unsafe that went against policy, what would you do? (Our take: this is a hypothetical question that won’t feature in a behavioral interview).
What equipment should I have for my Amazon interviews?
These days, most on-site interviews take place over Amazon Chime (Amazon’s version of Zoom). Hence, we recommend ensuring your internet connection is up to scratch.
Another tip we cannot emphasize is getting a headset, preferably with a noise-canceling microphone. This will ensure that your interview responses are clear and that there is no echo or outside noise.
Lastly, we recommend investing in a reliable webcam. There is no need to purchase anything too expensive – an entry-level webcam from Logitech will be more than enough.
Where can I ask more questions?
To ace your Amazon job interview, we recommend joining our vibrant community of candidates preparing for their behavioral interviews at Amazon. We strongly recommend you join this community and ask any questions you may still have. Get our free Amazon interview course on Customer Obsession to join this community.