Amazon Interview Questions and Answers (Updated: 2021)

After spending three years at Amazon as a senior business leader, Hiring Manager and Interviewer, I founded Day One Careers to help candidates answer Amazon Interview questions. Since then, I have trained over 200 candidates via a combination of Amazon interview coaching and online courses and helped secure over 50 Amazon job offers (stats as of June 2021) at L4-L7. Throughout this experience, I started compiling the list of the most frequently asked questions about the Amazon interview process. I will use this post to keep an active tab of these Amazon interview questions and hopefully provide useful answers.

Disclaimer: I hope it's clear that I do not represent Amazon in any shape or form. All opinions I express here and elsewhere on my website are my own and are offered for informational purposes. Use at your own risk.

How long should an answer to an Amazon interview question last?

I've coached way too many candidates who came to my sessions with a (false) assumption that your initial STAR response to an Amazon interview question should only last for 2 minutes. Unfortunately, most of them got this idea from various YouTube videos advocating this length of a STAR response. So allow me to be crystal clear: the length of your initial STAR answer to an Amazon interview question should be anywhere between five and eight minutes. Anything more than eight minutes turns your response into a monologue and cuts into the interviewer's time to drill down and follow up. On the other hand, anything less than five minutes will not give you enough time to land the story's basic facts and will lead to a wasted interview.

Can I bring a "cheat sheet" to my interview?

I am guilty of introducing this term in my YouTube videos, but I will correct myself in this article. What I refer to as a "cheat sheet" should be called a "work journal" or "interview notes". It is the very Excel spreadsheet where you map situations from your career to Amazon's 16 Leadership Principles and use it to bullet out key objectives and results. The answer to this question is: YES. I rocked up to all my Amazon interviews, external and internal, with my interview notes and used them to help me with answers to Amazon interview questions. The interview is not a memory test, and you are not expected to recall the results of all your projects to a decimal point of a percentage. As long as the situations are real (that is, you did not make stuff up), feel free to commit them to paper and bring them to the interview. If in doubt, please check with your recruiter.

How far back into my career should my situations go?

Unless you have a career gap, please aim for the situations to not be older than five years. The one exception could be an answer to the Are Right A Lot interview question about an error of judgment. There, you could potentially go to 6-7 years as an exception. I'm not aware of any official guidelines, but I'd use these as guardrails.

Can you share answers to all Amazon interview questions?

No, and I would highly advise you NOT to use any resources that offer you canned answers to Amazon interview questions. Even if you are not concerned about fairness and ethics (I am!), experienced Amazon interviewers will call you out. In my Amazon interview preparation courses, I offer a minimal set of example responses to demonstrate what great looks like and how you should structure your own answers to Amazon interview questions. Never invent interview responses. Instead, use the training to help your hard-earned accomplishments shine their brightest.

How should I demonstrate that I am analytical while answering Amazon interview questions?

I get this question a lot from candidates interviewing for technical roles, most often in Data Science or Business Intelligence Engineering. While it is true that, according to my experience, Amazon does have a recruiting slate for left-brain candidates, the only Leadership Principle that calls specifically for analytics is Dive Deep. Maybe Invent & Simplify (the Simplify part). Hence, there is no expectation that every answer to an Amazon interview question will result in a STAR story about you cracking a complex problem with your analytical prowess. In addition, some Leadership Principles - like Ownership - have nothing to do with numbers and everything to do with attitude, and you were able to put it to action and impact.

Can I re-use a situation from a screening round during the Loop?

Yes, you can. It would be most unusual for the screening round performance to be discussed during the interview debrief. Some recruiters did advise candidates against using Phone Screen stories during loops, but these are fringe cases.

Can I share multiple situations from the same project?

Yes, you can. You can chunk long projects up in distinct situations where you demonstrated different Leadership Principles. Do not ever assume that just because one of your projects took years to come to an important milestone, you have to use it to answer just one question. Instead, consider long projects or programs as sources of multiple situations.

Do I need to prepare a specific set of examples if I'm interviewing for {Role 1, 2, 3...}?

No. You may hear from your recruiter or the Hiring Manager that the role that you are interviewing for requires a certain set of functional skills. If the role is non-technical (e.g. not an SDE or a DE/BIE), your skills will come through naturally during an otherwise LP-focused interview. In addition, you may want to identify Leadership Principles that are particularly relevant to your functional profile and ensure that the examples that you prepare double-down on those skills.

Eugene B

Eugene B