Former Amazon and Apple hiring manager, interviewer, senior Marketing and Sales leader. Co-founder of Day One Careers, mentor, interview and leadership coach.
All candidates seeking a corporate job at Amazon must pass behavioral interviews – a unique interview format that helps companies predict the candidate’s future performance from their experience. Cracking Amazon’s behavioral interview is impossible without mastering and using the STAR Method well in an Amazon context. This article will provide our in-house top tips on adapting the STAR Method to your Amazon behavioral interview.
Evgeny Bik and Gayle Gallagher (GG), co-founders of Day One Careers, wrote this article. GG spent five years at Amazon as a Prime Video and Amazon Fresh senior leader 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.
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. GG and Evgeny had careers in multi-national Tech, FMCG and Retail companies before joining Amazon.
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.
You can check out our LinkedIn profiles if you’d like to learn more about our career paths: GG’s profile and Evgeny’s profile.
Intro to STAR Method
The STAR Method is an approach to answering questions about your past experiences during behavioral interviews. It allows you to provide concrete evidence of your skills and experience in line with the requirements that the hitting team has provided in a job description.
To answer Amazon behavioral interview questions successfully, you must construct a narrative. The STAR framework helps you tell a story with a beginning, a middle part, and an end.
Here’s how the STAR Method works:
- SITUATION: Describe the situation in which you were required to use the skill or experience being asked about.
- TASK: What task did you need to complete?
- ACTIONS: What action did you take to complete the task?
- RESULTS: What was the result of your actions?
For example, if you’re asked about a time when you had to deal with a demanding customer, you would describe the situation, explain what task you needed to complete, detail the actions you took, and finally share the result of your efforts.
Amazon STAR Method – Key Differences
While the STAR Method is a great way to structure your answers, there are some key differences you need to be aware of when using it in an Amazon context. These differences will strengthen your interview responses and help you impress your Amazon interviewers over and above other candidates.
Show impact through data
When interviewers ask behavioral questions, they want to understand how you operate and make decisions. However, Amazon is keen for you to showcase your impact on the business. The best way to do this is by using data. Amazon loves data, so do it whenever you can, and include numbers in your answers.
For example, if you’re asked about a time when you had to reduce costs in your department, instead of saying, “I looked at where we were spending money, and I found some areas where we could cut back,” say something like “I identified $X in potential cost savings by looking at our department’s spending patterns.”
Do the same when speaking about your results. For example, rather than saying “my actions led to an increase in sales,” say something like, “my actions resulted in an X% increase in sales.”
Framing your experiences this way will demonstrate your positive impact on the business – exactly what Amazon is looking for.
Speak about what you would improve
In every Amazon STAR response, your interviewers will look for what you did well and what you could have done better. So, in addition to sharing what you did well, always take the opportunity to share one or two things you would improve if you found yourself in a similar situation again. This shows that you can reflect on your experiences and learn from them – another fundamental Amazon leadership principle (Insist on the Highest Standards).
For example, if asked about a time when you had to make an important decision without all the information you needed, rather than saying, “I made the best decision I could with the information I had at the time,” say something like “I made the best decision I could with the information I had at the time. But, in hindsight, I would have liked to have X and Y information before making the decision.”
When should you share what you would improve? Do it at the end of your STAR narrative. By sharing what you would do differently, you end your story on an upbeat, positive note and show that you’re always learning and striving to improve.
Be ready to speak about your failures
While Amazon is interested in your successes, it’s also keen to understand how you deal with failure. So, be prepared to talk about a time when things didn’t go as planned.
When interviewers ask about your failures, they’re not looking for you to share every mistake you’ve ever made. Instead, focus on sharing a time when you faced significant adversity and what you did to overcome it.
For example, if you’re asked about a time when you failed to meet a target, don’t just say, “I didn’t reach my target.” Instead, share the story of what happened. Describe the situation, explain what went wrong, detail your actions to rectify the problem, and share the impact and critical learnings from the case.
Another fundamental Amazon leadership principle is showing that you can learn from your failures and come out stronger on the other side (Learn and Be Curious).
Take your time to tell the story
When responding to Amazon STAR questions, giving short, concise answers can be tempting. Some YouTube videos even recommend cramming your answers into a two-minute summary. However, this is a mistake. Remember, Amazon interviewers are on a mission to look for evidence that your behaviours raise the bar and place your profile squarely above 50% of Amazonians a the same job level.
The best way to maximize your chances of raising the bar is by taking your time and sharing your steps in detail. This will help them understand how you operate and make decisions.
Go deeper on Amazon STAR Method
As people who used to hire at Amazon and collectively interviewed hundreds of candidates, we know Amazon STAR MEthod inside out. Therefore, we strongly recommend you check out our Amazon Interview Whizz course, which gives you everything you need to prepare for your behavioural interviews at Amazon. Alternatively, get our free course on Customer Obsession to kick-start your Amazon interview preparation process.