Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos once said:
“I’d rather interview 50 people and not hire anyone than hire the wrong person.”
If you’re about to head into an Amazon interview, that might legitimately be the most intimidating statement ever.
Having said that, this scary quote from “scary Jeff” doesn’t mean Amazon wants you to fail. Instead, it simply means they only want to hire people who prove themselves worthy.
Want to make sure you make the cut?
Well, with a bit of preparation (hint: this article), it’s possible.
So, grab your broadsword, don your plate armor, and let’s get ready for battle! (NOTE: Don’t bring these items into your actual interview. ;-))
How to Answer Amazon Interview Questions
While you could just jump into the fray, memorize a few Amazon interview questions and be done with it (Another hint: That’s as far as most people get) that’s not the best way to go about things.
Sure, you might be ready to handle specific questions. But, if something unexpected comes up, you might be caught flatfooted. No one wants that.
Instead, you need to take a different path. Think of it this way; how does a brave knight ensure they come out ahead? By honing their skills and developing a winning strategy, that’s how.
With the right techniques and overall strategy, you can face off against unanticipated questions. You’ll be able to parry any potential blows and delivering some impressive strikes yourself.
Now, exactly how you need to prepare can and will be a bit nuanced. After all, there is a slew of positions at Amazon, and each one involves something different. If you want to get ready for your Amazon interview, then you need to take that into account.
How do you make sure you’re ready for YOUR Amazon interview? Start by reading the job description for the position. In that handful of paragraphs, you’ll find a ton of specific, actionable information about what the hiring manager is looking for in a perfect candidate.
For example, the list of must-have skills you find on most job descriptions reflects their priorities. Those keywords or qualities you see over and over? Yeah, those fall into that category, too.
Without a doubt, you can expect to have to speak about your capabilities in those areas, so reflect on your abilities and think about relevant examples from your work history that you can describe. That way, you can discuss your capabilities with ease.MIKE’S TIP: So, as you can see, highlighting the skills and qualities you find on the job description, is critical. But what about questions that don’t ask about those skills and/or qualities directly? Here’s the thing, even when a question doesn’t address those points specifically, finding ways to work them in can be beneficial. If you can take a generic response and make it meaningful by highlighting a must have skill or quality, do it. You’re increasing the relevancy of your answer, and that’s always a smart move.
Now, it’s important to understand that talking about your skills is only one part of the equation. You also need to be ready for Amazon behavioral interview questions. Some of these can be a little tricky, but, when handled properly, behavioral interview questions are also chances to shine.
In most cases, a two-step approach is best. Begin by embracing the STAR method. With that, you can take a boring old, rusty dagger or a response, carefully polishing and sharpening it into a penetrating answer that captures the attention of the hiring manager. It lets you craft your response into a compelling story, which is a lot more engaging.
But that’s just the tip of the spear. You also want to go further by using the Tailoring Method. That approach focuses on personalization, customizing your responses to the role and company.
By bringing both methodologies together, you can demonstrate your value clearly. Plus, you’ll have an easier time connecting with the hiring manager, and that could boost your odds of success.
Before we dive into the Amazon specific interview questions, we wanted to let you know that we created an amazing free cheat sheet that will not only help you answer your Amazon interview questions, but will also give you word-for-word answers for some of the toughest interview questions you are going to face in your upcoming interview.
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FREE BONUS PDF CHEAT SHEET: Get our “Job Interview Questions & Answers PDF Cheat Sheet” that gives you “word-word sample answers to the most common job interview questions you’ll face at your next interview.
Top 3 Amazon Interview Questions
Alright, let’s take stock. Right now, you have a winning strategy for answering Amazon interview questions. That’s a great foundation.
But, having clear examples can also help. It lets you review questions you may face and see how to put the tips above to work. We aren’t going to leave you hanging.
Here are the top 3 Amazon interview questions you could encounter when meeting with the hiring manager, along with tips for answering them.
1. Can you describe your most difficult customer and how you were able to handle their needs?
Amazon rose to greatness partially because of its commitment to customer service. It made the shopping experience better, even when something didn’t go right.
If the job is even remotely customer-facing, you should be ready for this question. Dealing with a disgruntled customer isn’t easy, and Amazon wants to know that you’re up to the challenge.
“In my previous role, a customer was upset that a product they ordered was put on backorder unexpectedly after they made their purchase. They needed a functional version of the item as quickly as possible, and the possibility that that wouldn’t happen increased their stress levels, leaving them just shy of hostile.
To resolve their issue, I began by listening to their concern, rephrasing what was being shared, and asking clarifying questions to ensure my full understanding. I then reassured them that I’d work with them to find a solution. Together, we discussed alternative products that were in stock that could meet their needs. As soon as a substitute was identified, we canceled the old order and initiated the new one.
I applied a free shipping upgrade to expedite delivery, ensuring it would arrive before the customer’s deadline. In the end, they were fully satisfied with the solution.”
2. Can you tell me about a time when you were more than halfway through a project and had to pivot quickly due to an unexpected change? How did you handle it?
This is a question that could be applicable to nearly any role, though it may be more common in technical positions. Its focus is on ascertaining your level of agility and ability to make course corrections under pressure when priorities change.
“While developing a new system for an employer, a requirement came in late. Since the project was rapidly nearing completion, integrating the feature became a challenge. The point in development where it would have been addressed typically had already passed. To address the new requirement, I first took a step back and reexamined all of the existing work.
The goal was to minimize disruption to segments that were complete, and a bit of planning ensured I didn’t use a less-than-ideal approach simply because I was under pressure. After identifying a course of action, I implemented the changes methodically. I relied heavily on testing to ensure there were no unexpected ramifications or that issues could be addressed quickly.
By using a strategic approach, I was able to limit the negative implications of a last-minute change, expediting the remainder of the process while ensuring the final result met every need.”
3. If one of your close work colleagues stole a $1 item, what would you do?
Shrinkage is a major concern for Amazon. As a result, many prospective employees – especially those working in Amazon warehouses – are going to face behavioral interview questions that discuss how they’d react to theft.
It’s important to note that the small value of the item in the question is meant to throw candidates off. A dollar may seem meaningless to a retail giant’s bottom line. But, if every person took a $1 item and turned a blind eye to others doing the same, it would add up quickly. As a result, there’s only on “correct” answer. Luckily, it’s fairly short and sweet, so it’s easier to nail.
“Theft, in any amount, is against policy and is illegal, so it needs to be addressed. If I witnessed a colleague stealing, I would report the activity per Amazon corporate procedures.”
32 More Amazon Interview Questions
Here are 32 more Amazon interview questions you may encounter:
- Why Amazon?
- Which leadership principle of Amazon’s do you connect with most?
- Do you know who the Amazon CEO is? How do you pronounce his name?
- Tell me about a time you faced a crisis at work. How did you handle it?
- Describe [Amazon product or service relevant to the role] as you would to a prospective customer.
- Can you tell me about a time you had to make a fast customer service decision without any guidance? How did you decide what to do?
- Tell me about a time that you dealt with a hostile customer.
- When given an unfamiliar task, how do you ensure you handle it properly?
- If you are given two conflicting priorities from two separate managers, how do you figure out how to proceed?
- Give me an example of when you received criticism. How did you respond to the information?
- What metrics do you use to drive positive change?
- If a supervisor asked you to do something unsafe that went against policy, what would you do?
- Tell me about a time when you were handling a project that went outside of your scope of work. How did you handle it?
- Describe a situation where you had to deal with ambiguity when making a decision.
- Can you tell me about a time when you had to make a decision when all of the data you needed was unavailable?
- Tell me about a time when you made a poor customer service decision. What steps did you take to remedy the situation?
- How do you keep yourself / your team / your colleagues motivated?
- What steps do you take to form positive and functional relationships with your colleagues?
- If a team member wasn’t pulling their weight, what would you do?
- What do you do to ensure that the customer experience is always a priority?
- How would you handle it if you discovered that your inventory levels were actually too high?
- Tell me about a time you disagreed with feedback you received. How did you address it?
- How do you handle a missed deadline / productivity target?
- What do you like most about Amazon? What do you like least?
- Describe an instance where you were overwhelmed while on the job. How did you handle it?
- Tell me about a time when you failed to meet expectations. What did you do to recover?
- How do you ensure that workplace safety is always a priority for you when you work?
- What steps do you take to make sure every customer you speak with is wowed?
- How do you make sure that you fully understand a customer’s needs?
- Tell me about the last time you had to apologize to someone.
- Are you able to handle the physical demands of a warehousing job?
- What qualities do you possess that will help you succeed with Amazon?
5 Good Questions to Ask at the End of an Amazon Interview
As your Amazon interview starts to wrap up, you’ll get a chance to ask the hiring manager some questions. Being ready for this moment is critical, as it allows you to assert your interest and learn valuable tidbits that can help you decide if the job is right for you. If you don’t know what to ask, here are a few questions that can work in nearly any situation:
- What qualities do your most successful employees have in common?
- Can you describe a typical day in this role?
- What defines success in this position?
- What is the biggest challenge Amazon is facing today? How does this role help solve it?
- What do you enjoy most about working for Amazon?
If you want some more examples, check out our article: questions you can ask during your interview.
Putting It All Together
Ultimately, an Amazon interview can be challenging. But, by using the tips above, you can be ready. Remember, you’re a great candidate. All you need to do is show it. So take a deep breath and make it happen.