Prepare for your interview
We use our Leadership Principles every day. They are crucial to discussing ideas for new projects and to deciding the best ways to solve problems. They're just one of the things that makes us peculiar. All candidates are evaluated based on these principles. The best way to prepare for your interview is to consider how you’ve applied them in your past.
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.
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."
Invent and 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.
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.
Learn and Be Curious
Leaders are never done learning and always seek to improve themselves. They are curious about new possibilities and act to explore them.
Hire and 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.
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 driving 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.
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.
Bias for Action
Speed matters in business. Many decisions and actions are reversible and do not need extensive study. We value calculated risk taking.
Accomplish more with less. Constraints breed resourcefulness, self-sufficiency and invention. There are no extra points for growing headcount, budget size or fixed expense.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Success and Scale Bring Broad Responsibility
We started in a garage, but we're not there anymore. We are big, we impact the world, and we 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 interviews are rooted in behavioral-based questions. We'll ask about past situations or challenges you’ve faced, using our principles to guide our discussion. We avoid brain teasers (for example, “How many windows are in Manhattan?”). We've found this approach is unreliable when it comes to predicting success.
Here are examples of questions:
- Tell me about a time when you were faced with a problem that had a number of possible solutions. What was the problem and how did you decide what to do? What was the outcome?
- When did you take a risk, make a mistake, or fail? How did you respond? How did you grow from it?
- Describe a time you took the lead on a project.
- What did you do when you needed to motivate a group or promote collaboration on a project?
- How have you used data to develop a strategy?
Keep in mind that we are data-driven. Ensure your answers are well-structured. Provide examples using metrics or data if applicable. Reference recent situations when possible.
STAR answer format
The STAR method is a structured manner of responding to a behavioral-based interview question. Here’s what it looks like:
Describe the situation you were in, or the task you needed to do. Give enough detail for the interviewer to understand the complexities of the situation. This example can be from a previous job, school project, volunteer activity, or other relevant event.
Describe your goal.
Describe the actions you took. Use an appropriate amount of detail. What steps did you take? What was your contribution? Let us know what you did, not what your team or group did. Use the word ‘I,’ not ‘we.’
Describe the outcome of your actions. Don’t be shy about taking credit for what you did. What happened? How did it end? What did you accomplish? What did you learn? Provide examples using metrics or data if applicable.
Consider your successes and failures in relation to the Leadership Principles. Use examples that showcase your expertise and how you’ve taken risks, succeeded, failed, and grown. Keep in mind that some of our most successful programs have risen from the ashes of failed projects. Failure is a necessary part of innovation. We believe in failing early and persevering until we get it right.
Tips for great answers
Practice using the STAR method. Frame your examples in relation to the Leadership Principles.
Ensure each answer has a beginning, middle, and end. Describe the situation or problem, the actions you took, and the outcome.
Prepare short descriptions of a handful of situations. Be ready to answer follow-up questions in greater detail. Select examples that highlight your unique skills.
Have examples that showcase your experience and how you’ve taken risks, succeeded, failed, and grown.
Specifics are key. Avoid generalizations. Give a detailed account of one situation for each question you answer. Use data or metrics to support your example.
Be forthcoming. Don't embellish or omit parts of the story.
Prep for technical interviews
- Interview prep for tech roles (for example, software development and machine learning) can be found here.
- Unsure if you're interviewing for a technical role? Ask your recruiting point of contact.
Tips before you head in
- Be prepared to explain what interests you about the role and the team (or teams) you’ll be meeting with.
- Be concise but detailed in your answers. We know it’s hard to gauge how much info is too much versus not enough. A good test is to pause after your answer to ask if you’ve given enough detail or if the interviewer would like you to go into more depth.
- If you’re asked a question but aren't given enough info to provide a solid answer, don’t be shy about asking for clarification. If additional context isn't available, focus on how you'd attempt to solve the problem based on limited information.
- For some roles, we may ask you to provide a writing sample. Why? We don’t make slide-oriented presentations. Instead, we write narrative memos. We silently read them at the beginning of some meetings. These papers range from one to six pages and explain a project goal, steps, and outcomes. Given this aspect of our culture, and the impact these papers have on our decisions, it’s important to be able to express your thoughts in writing.
- We aim to hire smart, thoughtful, customer-obsessed people. “Why Amazon?” is a common question. We want to understand what inspired you to explore an opportunity with us, so we can get a better sense of who you are.
- We try to leave a few minutes at the end of each interview to answer your questions. If we don’t get to all of them, don’t hesitate to ask your point of contact.
- Check in: Arrive 15 minutes early and check in for your interview. Have your government-issued photo ID ready (for example, your driver’s license or passport).
- Location: You'll receive instructions via email. Some of our offices are dog-friendly. Let us know if you need an accommodation or have allergies.
- Dress code: Comfortable and casual. While some roles in our fulfillment centers may require certain clothing for safety reasons (such as closed-toed shoes), in most of our offices people wear everyday clothes. We're interested in what you have to say, not what you’re wearing.
- What to expect: Interviews will be a mixture of questions and discussions about your experience. Be ready with detailed examples. Concise, structured answers are best.
- Interviewers: Depending on the role, you'll meet with two to seven people. They'll likely be managers, team members, stakeholders from related teams, and a Bar Raiser (usually a person from another team). All interviewers will assess your potential for growth beyond the position you’re interviewing for. They'll evaluate how well your background and skills meet core competencies, along with how they relate to our Leadership Principles. We recommend approaching each interviewer the same way, rather than tailoring answers to their role. Interviewers will often take notes on their laptops. It’s important that they have precise notes from their time with you to share with one another.
- Resume or CV: Interviewers will have a copy, but feel free to bring one as well.
- Duration: Each session usually lasts between 45 minutes and an hour.
- Lunch: We’ll provide lunch if your interview is scheduled during the lunch hour. Let your point of contact or your lunch buddy know if you have dietary preferences.
- Technical roles: If you're interviewing for a technical role, be prepared to white board.
- Remote interviews: If you've been asked to do a remote interview, you'll likely need to download Amazon Chime, our tool for video conferencing (step-by-step guide here). If you're presenting, you'll need to download Chime to your desktop. The meeting ID will be emailed to you by your recruiting point of contact. For the best sound quality, use a headset with a microphone.
Before and after your interview
- Some teams use role-specific exercises or online assessments as part of the interview. You’ll be told if the job you’re interviewing for requires one of these.
- Confirm or book arrangements if your interview requires travel. We’ll set up your travel or put you in touch with our travel agency to help you coordinate details.
- Submit your expense reports after your visit. We’ll provide details on where and how to do this. Fill in your form clearly and ensure scanned receipts are legible. This will help prevent reimbursement delays.
- If you need an accommodation, or have questions or concerns, please get in touch. We ensure reasonable accommodations for everyone.
- After your interview, you should expect a brief survey via email. It’s important for us to know how we did so we can improve.
- Expect to hear back from us within five business days of your interview. If you don't, feel free to give us a nudge.
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