Preparing for an interview at Amazon can seem daunting, but it can become an exciting opportunity to showcase your skills with the right approach. Amazon, known for its rigorous selection process, seeks candidates who excel in their technical abilities and embody the company's core competencies - the 16 Leadership Principles (formerly 14 Leadership Principles). To navigate through the Amazon interview process successfully, one must understand the intricacies of its stages, from the initial phone screen to the challenging onsite interviews, where Bar Raisers play a critical role in the decision-making process.

Key areas of Amazon’s interview process, such as coding challenges, system design interviews, and behavioral questions, require focused preparation. How do we know this? Both GG and Evgeny interviewed and coached hundreds of candidates on Amazon's behavioral interview questions and have hired and interviewed extensively while at Amazon. GG has also served as an Amazon Bar Raiser.

Candidates repeatedly tell us that 'Amazon is not like the other companies' in terms of its hiring approach, particularly regarding Amazon interview questions. They are correct. To raise the technical bar, you must have honed your skills in computer science relevant to your role - for example, data structures and dynamic programming. You must pick relevant stories from your career to raise the non-technical bar and maximize your performance in the behavioral Amazon interview questions. Understanding Amazon's peculiar culture and values - such as Amazon's 'Peculiar Ways Of Working' - will enable you to align your approach and mindset accordingly.

Furthermore, leveraging our preparation resources like the Amazon Interview Success System, 1:1 interview coaching, and the AI Coach can give you a competitive advantage over candidates coming to their interviews unprepared. By combining a thorough understanding of Amazon's values with diligent preparation and practice, candidates can position themselves for success in the competitive landscape of Amazon's hiring process.

Introduction: Navigating Amazon's Hiring Landscape

Amazon's interview process, deeply influenced by its peculiar culture, begins with a phone screen and unfolds through a series of meticulously designed stages. Each step, carefully structured to assess a candidate's compatibility with Amazon's culture and technical prowess, demands thorough preparation and an understanding of what lies ahead. From the initial online assessments to the final in-person interview, navigating Amazon's hiring landscape requires a strategic approach and an awareness of the company's unique expectations.

Understanding Amazon's Culture and Values

Amazon may not differ significantly from other companies in technical assessments and interview techniques, but its peculiar culture does set it apart. Their passion for company culture and meticulous assessment of candidates' fit with this culture make its hiring process unique in the industry. This approach can be challenging for candidates unfamiliar with Amazon's methods, as many Fortune 500 companies display cultural statements but lack a clear process to evaluate candidates' compatibility with these values. 

Amazon has a distinct method for assessing the cultural fit of candidates against their 16 Leadership Principles, which form the company's peculiar cultural code. The importance placed on cultural and technical fit during interviews is roughly equal, underscoring the significance of Amazon's peculiar culture. This emphasis on culture is evident in the final stage of Amazon's hiring process, the debrief before a job offer is made. Interviewers consider the candidate's ability to perform the role suitability for the position's seniority and whether they embody Amazon's values.

Understanding Amazon's cultural values is essential when preparing for an interview, regardless of the role being applied for.

The Importance of Amazon's Leadership Principles in Your Preparation

As previously mentioned, Amazon's corporate ethos is built upon 16 Leadership Principles, which form the foundation of its decision-making process. Candidates are assessed against these principles during interviews for any role at the company. Amazon evaluates a candidate's fit by employing two methods.

Firstly, Amazon utilizes a behavioral interviewing technique. Unlike traditional interviews, where candidates may be asked hypothetical questions, behavioral interviews require candidates to recount past experiences in which they handled a specific situation or solved a problem. The focus is on demonstrating behaviors that align with Amazon's leadership principles.

Secondly, Amazon recognizes that it is impossible and impractical for a candidate to demonstrate all 16 Leadership Principles in a single interview. Therefore, each interviewer is assigned specific leadership principles to assess throughout the interview process – from initial phone screens to the final panel interview stage. To excel in your Amazon interview preparation, it is essential to create a story bank of experiences that map to individual leadership principles, understanding that the STAR method is a structured approach to help in this process, rather than attempting to incorporate all of them into one story.

The following section will briefly outline Amazon's 16 Leadership Principles and provide examples of situations that could impress your interviewer under each principle.

Customer Obsession

Making customer obsession the cornerstone of your answers when preparing for Amazon interviews can set you apart. This principle is about prioritizing the customer's needs and working backward to find innovative solutions. Candidates should focus on examples where they've gone above and beyond to satisfy customer demands, reflecting a genuine commitment to enhancing the customer experience.

Insist on the Highest Standards

Amazon believes that standards are unreasonably high, and its leaders have relentlessly high standards. To impress in your interview, illustrate how you've consistently pushed for excellence in your work. Highlight instances where your commitment to quality made a tangible difference, showcasing your alignment with Amazon's ethos of never settling for the status quo.

Dive Deep

Demonstrating analytical skills in Amazon interviews is crucial, especially when discussing how you 'dive deep' into and solve problems. Candidates should prepare to talk about times they've dissected complex issues, used data to guide their decisions, and developed comprehensive solutions. This approach showcases your ability to navigate challenges effectively, a quality highly valued at Amazon.


Amazon values doing more with less, encouraging Amazon employees to demonstrate creativity and resourcefulness. Candidates should discuss how they've achieved great results without needing vast resources, demonstrating creativity and resourcefulness.

Earn Trust

Earning trust is about being sincerely open, listening attentively, and treating others respectfully. Share examples of how you've built strong relationships by being honest and humble.

Learn and Be Curious

Amazon looks for individuals who are externally aware, never satisfied with their knowledge, and always explore new possibilities. Illustrate your passion for learning and how it has driven innovation in your work.

Hire and Develop the Best

Amazon's hiring managers prioritize hiring top talent and investing in their development. Discuss experiences where you've nurtured the growth of your team or made strategic hires that led to success.

Think Big

Thinking small is a self-fulfilling prophecy, but thinking big opens up the possibility for significant impact. Share instances where you've set ambitious goals and achieved them, showcasing your visionary thinking.

Bias for Action

Speed matters in business. Highlight times when you've taken decisive action without having all the information, leading to positive outcomes.

Invent and Simplify

Amazon encourages innovation and finding simpler solutions. Talk about situations where you've invented new approaches or streamlined processes, demonstrating your ability to innovate.

Are Right, A Lot

Leaders are expected to have strong judgment and good instincts. Provide examples of decisions you've made that were initially controversial but ultimately proved correct.

Deliver Results

Focus on outcomes rather than process. Share stories of how you've overcome obstacles to deliver results that made a significant difference.

Have Backbone; Disagree and Commit

Amazon values constructive debate. Describe a time when you disagreed with a decision but committed to its execution, and the outcome was successful.


Leaders act on behalf of the entire company. Explain how you've taken responsibility beyond your projects, showing your commitment to the company's success.

Strive to be Earth's Best Employer

This principle is about being passionate about your employees' success and well-being. Share examples of how you've created a supportive and inclusive environment.

Success and Scale Bring Broad Responsibility

Amazon believes that growth should be beneficial to all stakeholders. Discuss how you've balanced ambitious goals with ethical considerations and societal impact.

Decoding Amazon's Interview Process: Step by Step

Decoding Amazon's Interview Process: Step by Step

Understanding Amazon's interview process is vital for candidates joining the tech giant. The journey begins with a phone screen and a series of technical and behavioral assessments designed to test various skills. Each stage is an opportunity to demonstrate compatibility with Amazon's culture and the 16 Leadership Principles that guide its operations.

Initial Screening: Online Assessment and Recruiter Call

Amazon assesses technical, functional, and general leadership skills during initial screenings and online assessments for various positions, including technical roles. The assessment process varies depending on the position you are applying for but generally includes a combination of online assessments and interviews designed to evaluate technical and non-technical competencies.

Amazon's online assessments are designed to evaluate candidates' technical skills and knowledge relevant to the role they are applying for. These assessments can include:

  • General Technical Knowledge section: This assesses candidates' technical skills in system design, computing, cloud migration, and cloud design. The questions are multiple-choice and objective/situational questions, focusing on assessing technical proficiency without including coding questions.
  • Position-based online assessments: These are tailored to evaluate specific skill sets relevant to the role. For example, the Solutions Architect Online Assessment includes a proficiency interest survey and technical modules designed to assess knowledge against the rated proficiency provided by the candidate.
  • Work Sample Simulation: These assessments ask candidates to complete virtual tasks related to the specific position, demonstrating problem-solving, prioritization, and interpersonal abilities. They may include interpreting data from a chart, answering customer questions, or choosing how to resolve an issue.

The initial screening interviews at Amazon assess both technical and non-technical skills. 

During an initial phone screen at Amazon, candidates can expect to be asked various questions that assess their technical skills and alignment with Amazon's Leadership Principles. The phone screen typically lasts about 45 minutes to 1 hour. Here's what is typically covered:

  1. Technical Skills: Depending on the role, the interviewer may ask technical questions to evaluate your expertise in a particular area. For technical roles, you should be prepared to explain your technical knowledge and provide specific examples of how you have used your skills.
  2. Behavioral Questions: Amazon uses behavioral interview questions to assess how your past behavior aligns with its Leadership Principles. You should be prepared to provide specific examples demonstrating these principles in your previous roles.
  3. Problem-Solving Ability: For technical positions, the interviewer asks questions about your ability to think through problems and communicate your thoughts. Depending on the role, this may include coding questions or system design problems.
  4. Leadership Principles: Amazon's Leadership Principles are a core part of the company's culture. Candidates are evaluated based on how well they demonstrate these principles, so it's important to be familiar with them and ready to discuss how you've applied them in your work.
  5. Motivation and Fit: The interviewer will likely assess your motivation for applying to Amazon and your interest in the role. They will also evaluate your understanding of Amazon's culture and whether you would fit the company well.
  6. Resume Review: There may be a discussion of your resume, work history, career goals, and questions about your strengths, weaknesses, and problem-solving skills.
  7. Amazon's Products and Services: You may be asked questions to demonstrate your knowledge of Amazon's products, services, and values. This is especially important if the role you're interviewing for requires such expertise - e.g., Cloud Solutions Architects.

Phone Screens (Interviews)

During Amazon phone interviews, candidates are typically evaluated on various aspects that align with the company's expectations and culture. Phone screens don't have a script and tend to be "catch-all" interviews, so it's impossible to predict how exactly each phone screen will go. Here's what is generally covered:

Behavioral Questions

Amazon's phone screen interviews might feature behavior-based questions, focusing on answering questions that assess how your past behavior aligns with Amazon's Leadership Principles. You may be asked to describe situations where you faced a problem with multiple solutions, took a risk, or had to motivate a group of individuals, among other topics. The best way to prepare for those is with Amazon Interview Success System - a full ecosystem of theory and AI-assisted pratical preparation for Amazon's behavioral interviews.

Technical Skills

For technical roles, be prepared to discuss your technical and functional skills, knowledge, and experience in response to Amazon interview questions. Questions may evaluate your expertise in data structures, algorithms, or system design, and you might be asked to solve a coding problem during the interview. While we don't specialize in technical interview prep, our tech candidates recommend Leetcode as a platform to prepare for coding and system design interview questions.

Motivation and Fit

The interviewer will assess your motivation for applying to Amazon, your interest in the specific role, and your understanding of Amazon's culture and fit for the company. While there aren't any right answers to "Why Amazon" interview questions, most candidates who get these questions wrong try to manipulate an interviewer with a "stock" or "canned" response.

Resume Review or Tell Me About Yourself

Expect a discussion of your resume, work history, career goals, and questions about your strengths, weaknesses, and problem-solving skills. Amazon is keen to know your thoughts on how your experience to date has prepared you to add value in the role you're applying for.


After an Amazon phone interview, hiring managers typically inform you if you've succeeded within two business days.

We advise candidates to start preparing for phone interviews the minute they confirmed their availability to Amazon. Candidates are advised to prepare thoroughly for the phone interview, a critical step in the Amazon hiring process. Being well-prepared can increase your chances of advancing to the next round of interviews.

Writing Sample

The Amazon writing exercise is a crucial component of the interview process for many positions within the company, particularly for mid to senior-level roles (Level 5 and above), including both technical and managerial positions. This exercise is designed to evaluate candidates' ability to communicate effectively in writing, a skill that is highly valued at Amazon due to the company's emphasis on written communication over slide-oriented presentations or slides.

Who Gets a Writing Sample?

Candidates applying for positions at Level 6 and above at Amazon must complete a writing exercise as part of the interview process. Some candidates applying to Level 5 roles (e.g. Legal, technical writing) must complete a technical writing sample. Entry-level positions, such as customer service ones, may not require this exercise.

What Amazon is Looking For in the Writing Sample

Amazon assesses writing samples based on several criteria to ensure candidates can effectively communicate complex ideas clearly and concisely. The key aspects Amazon looks for in a writing sample include:

  • Content: The response should address the question posed, aiming to resolve the issue or concern.
  • Structure: The writing should be organized, logical, and easy to follow. This includes using a coherent format that guides the reader through the argument or explanation.
  • Clarity: Amazon believes that people who think clearly write clearly as well. Hence, demonstrating clarity of writing is essential to pass the writing sample assessment.

What Amazon is NOT Looking For in the Writing Sample

While some of the prompts for the Amazon Writing Sample are verbatim behavioral interview questions taken from the same stack that tests for Amazon’s Leadership Principles, the writing sample assessment isn't an interview.

So, Amazon isn't looking for bar-raising examples in your writing sample and won't be evaluating the content of your writing during the debrief at the end of the interview process. The hiring manager who will review your writing sample might ask follow-up questions on it, but it won't be counted towards your overall interview evaluation.

How to Prepare and Excel at the Writing Sample Assessment

  1. Use the STAR Format Loosely: Use the STAR Format Loosely: Recognizing that the STAR method is a structured way to articulate your responses, unless you're a natural writer, structure your response using the Situation, Task, Action, Result (STAR) format to ensure clarity and conciseness. This format helps in logically presenting your example. Avoid using the STAR subheadings.
  2. Be Concise and Relevant: Keep your writing sample to no more than two or three pages. Focus on being direct and to the point, avoiding unnecessary details that could distract from the main message. Make sure you answer the question in the writing sample prompt.
  3. Review and Edit: Take the time to review your work for any grammatical or structural errors. A well-polished submission indicates attention to detail and professionalism.
  4. Avoid Visuals Unless Specifically Instructed: Amazon values the ability to communicate effectively through writing alone. Unless the instructions are explicitly instructed, avoid including graphs, images, or tables in your submission.

The Onsite Experience: What to Expect and How to Stand Out During Panel-Style Interviews (The Amazon Loop)

Amazon's panel interviews, known as the "Loop" interviews, are a critical and final stage in the company's hiring process for technical and non-technical roles. These interviews are designed to rigorously assess a candidate's fit with Amazon's culture, particularly how they embody Amazon's Leadership Principles and their technical or functional expertise, depending on the role. Here's a detailed overview of what is covered during these interviews:

Amazon Loop Interview Structure

  • Number of Interviewers: The Loop can involve anywhere from 2 to 9 interviewers who will "loop" through for interviews with the candidate. This panel typically includes the hiring manager and a "Bar Raiser," an experienced Amazonian trained to ensure a consistent hiring bar.
  • Duration and Format: Each interview within the Loop typically lasts about 45 to 60 minutes. The process tests whether candidates can raise the bar for Amazon's employees, embody the Amazon Leadership Principles, and succeed.

For Technical Roles - What Is Covered

  • Technical Expertise: Candidates for technical positions will be evaluated on their technical knowledge and problem-solving abilities. This includes system design, coding assessments for software development roles, and technical competencies relevant to the specific position.
  • Behavioral Questions: Most interviews will focus on questions that align with Amazon's Leadership Principles. Candidates should be prepared to provide specific examples from their past experiences.
  • Leadership Principles: Amazon places a strong emphasis on its Leadership Principles. Candidates must demonstrate how they have applied these principles in their previous roles.
  • Role-Specific Scenarios: Depending on the role, candidates may be asked to solve coding problems, design systems, or discuss their approach to technical project management.

For Non-Technical Roles - What Is Covered

  • Behavioral Assessment: Similar to technical roles, behavioral questions based on the Leadership Principles are a core component. Candidates should have stories prepared that showcase how they've embodied these principles.
  • Functional Expertise: While not common for non-technical roles, some "loops" might include questions or exercises assessing the candidate's expertise in their specific field, such as marketing, program management, or customer service. This includes discussing past work experiences, case studies, and how they've tackled previous challenges.

How to Prepare

  • Know the Leadership Principles: Familiarity with Amazon's Leadership Principles is crucial, but simply reading through the descriptions of the LPs isn't enough. Every Leadership Principle has multiple sub-themes that aren't apparent unless you read books, watch videos, or listen to podcasts where former Amazonians explain how they applied the LPs to solve real business problems. We've broken all LPs into component parts in our signature preparation suite - Amazon Interview Success System.
  • Compress Your Prep: Your Amazon loop won't test you on the entire set of 16 Leadership Principles. Instead, depending on the level of the position you applied for, Amazon will evaluate your responses against 8-12 Leadership Principles. Well-written job descriptions typically contain keywords of what LPs the Hiring Manager believes to be important for the role. If you can tease those Leadership Principles out of the job description, you can focus your preparation on those prominent LPs in the job description. We highly recommend our JD Review service, where we evaluate the job description of the role you applied for and identify the most frequently mentioned Leadership Principles.
  • Pick The Right Situations: You must pick situations from your professional history that showcase behaviors that map to the Leadership Principle you're being tested on. This must be done way in advance of your interviews.
  • Prepare Your Story Bank: Use the STAR (Situation, Task, Action, Result) method to structure responses to behavioral questions. Write them down as bullet points and store these outlines as memory aids (use Post-it notes, Google Sheets, or anything else to organise your content). You'll need two stories per Leadership Principle.
  • Technical Preparation: For technical roles, brushing up on relevant technical skills, coding practices, and system design principles is essential. Utilize resources provided by Amazon and practice coding problems if applicable. Our students who applied to technical roles recommend Leetcode in addition to resources provided by Amazon.

Before, During, and After: Maximizing Your Interview Performance

Before, During, and After: Maximizing Your Interview Performance

Tips Before Heading into Your Interview: Mental and Physical Preparation

Before diving into the heart of interviews at Amazon, candidates must engage in both mental and physical preparation. Mental readiness involves understanding Amazon's culture, particularly its Leadership Principles, and how your skills and experiences align. On the other hand, physical readiness means getting a good night's sleep, dressing comfortably yet professionally, and ensuring you have a quiet, well-lit space for video interviews. This dual approach helps alleviate stress and positions you to present your best self.

Making a Lasting Impression on Interview Day: Dos and Don'ts

On interview day, making a positive impression is key. Do arrive early, whether logging in to a virtual meeting or arriving at the Amazon office. Be polite and professional with everyone you meet, from the receptionist to the interviewer. Don't forget to smile and maintain eye contact, showing confidence and enthusiasm. Avoid speaking negatively about previous employers or colleagues, as this can reflect poorly on your character. Remember, every interaction is an opportunity to demonstrate your fit with Amazon's culture.

The Post-Interview Phase: Follow-Ups and What to Expect

After the interview, you must send a thank-you email to each person you spoke with, expressing gratitude for their time and reiterating your interest in the role. Be patient while awaiting a response; the Amazon hiring process can take several weeks. During this time, continue preparing for other opportunities, reflecting on what you learned from this experience. If you're not selected, don't be discouraged. Each interview is a chance to grow and improve for future opportunities.

Frequently Asked Questions About Amazon Interviews

Frequently Asked Questions About Amazon Interviews

Can I Bring a "Cheat Sheet" to My Interview?

Bringing a "cheat sheet" to an Amazon interview is fine. Interviews aren't memory tests. Amazon doesn't expect you to remember every single detail and matric about professional situations that happened years ago. That said, we recommend you practice interviewing with partners as much as possible before your interview so that most of your story bank ends up in your short-term memory.

How to Demonstrate Analytical Skills Without Overdoing it?

To effectively demonstrate analytical skills in technical roles, especially data science-related ones, it's essential to "dive deep" into problem-solving scenarios while maintaining clarity and simplicity. Discuss your thought process, how you approach complex problems, and the tools or methods you use. Use specific examples, such as how you analyzed an array of integers or optimized a binary tree, to showcase your analytical thought process. This balanced approach proves your capability without overwhelming your interviewer with unnecessary complexity.

Dealing with Expected Salary Questions Like a Pro

When the topic of expected salary comes up, usually during the phone screen, it's important to handle it confidently and prepare. Research the market rate for the position you're interviewing for and consider your experience level. Come up with an aspirational number and share it with the recruiter. Remember - you can always re-negotiate this number at the offer stage (use Amazon Salary Negotiation Whizz to help you negotiate your package).

Final Thoughts: Getting Amazon-ready with Confidence

Interviewing at Amazon is undoubtedly a challenging journey and an opportunity for personal and professional growth. Our students have told us repeatedly that going through the preparation journey benefitted them not only during their interviews with Amazon but also during interviews with other companies. Remember, each step of the prep process is a learning experience designed to help you improve your interviewing skills. Embrace the challenge, and you'll emerge stronger, regardless of the outcome.

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