How Amazon uses behavioural questions in the Amazon Interview Process
Chances are, if you've been doing your preparation and your research for your Amazon interview, you'll come across various websites that show you questions they suggest are Amazon interview questions.
Amazon uses behavioural questions like "tell me a time when" to gather information on your previous career experience where you have demonstrated its 16 Amazon Leadership Principles.
To help the interviewer gather the right information Amazon has created a bank of questions that align to each of the 16 Amazon Leadership Principles that an interview can use.
The AIQB is actually a confidential Amazon document. It is covered by the confidentiality clause that is written into every single Amazonian's contract. I no longer have access to that document.
However, some Amazonians are happy to take that risk and have shared contents from the AIQB.
Lucky for you I found a number of those websites and have compiled a list of what they share and aligned them to the appropriate Leadership Principles.
They can be helpful to you in your preparation but not in the way you think.
How Interviewers Use the Amazon Interview Question Bank
The AIQB aligns between 9 to 15 different questions to each of the Amazon Leadership Principles.
Ahead of an interview the interviewer will look at the Amazon interview questions aligned to the Leadership Principle that they've been assigned and pick the questions that they want to ask.
The reality is per human nature the likelihood is, that they'll pick their favourite questions from that particular Leadership Principle.
I know it sounds weird to have a favourite question, but I promise you almost every experienced interviewer at Amazon will have that own preferred go-to one or two questions from each of the Leadership Principle.
Another thing that they might use to help guide them towards the right question to ask you is to then look at your resume and see if there's anything in your resume that suggests that a particular specific question or area of exploration is going to be useful.
The Exception To The Rule For Interviewers Picking Questions from the Amazon Interview Question Bank
Amazon interviewers can make up their own questions. Amazon doesn't require people to use the AIQB. Many do because the questions are very, very well thought through but there are plenty of people that come up with their own versions of questions.
So that 148 becomes an infinite number of questions that you can in no way predict. That's why being able to adapt on the fly and reshape your, already created narrative to a particular question becomes so important, because even if you were able to remember 148 examples, you may well find someone makes up a question and then you are completely stuck.
How You Should Use These Amazon Interview Questions
As I mentioned, there are between 9 and 15 different questions within the AIQB for all 16 of the Amazon leadership principles quickly, you can start to do the mental math, and you realise you're getting to big numbers of questions.
There are 148 possible questions that you could be asked.
Realistically most people can't come up with 148 strong examples from the career history. Either their career isn't long enough or they would have to find examples from so far back in their career they wouldn't be of equivalent scope and complexity to the role they're applying for (that is important).
The other reason you're not going to want to come up with 148 different examples is you're never going to remember them. Even if you could, probably not to the level of depth and detail for the behaviours that they are looking for.
Step By Step How To Use These Amazon Interview Questions
Step 1- Know the Leadership Principles
Step 2- Find examples from your career history
Step 3- Match examples from your career history to the Leadership Principles
Step 4- Create your STAR (I) answer
Step 5- Practice re-crafting a core STAR answer to each different questions
I think this is the most critical core skill when it comes to interviewing, finding a way to take your core answer and adapt it. If you can nail that skill, the truth is you only need that core set of responses that will then serve you for all of the different questions.
It's certainly something that you can practice yourself. You've got the question written down, you know, the core answer you've structured in your head, your star then try articulating how you might reshape your core to reflect that question.
Even better get someone to practice with you. Get them to fire at you combinations of the questions in the Amazon interview question bank, and you can, on the fly, make your effort to adapt.
The strongest interviewees have nailed this skill.
Compiled List Of Amazon Interview Questions
Where Have These Amazon Interview Questions Come From?
Strictly from public websites from around the web. Some of the questions they have shared I have filtered out based on my understanding of the Leadership Principles.
But remember your interview can just as freely make up the questions themselves.
Are Right A Lot
-Tell me about a time you made a mistake.
-Tell me about an error in judgment you made in the last year or two. What was it and what was the impact of it?
-Tell me about a time when you made a bad decision and the learning from the experience enabled you to make a good decision later. What did you learn that you were able to apply?
-Give me an example of a significant professional failure. What did you learn from this situation?
-Give me an example of when you had to make an important decision in the absence of good data because there just wasn’t any. What was the situation and how did you arrive at your decision? Did the decision turn out to be the correct one? Why or why not?
-Tell me about a business model decision or key technology decision or other important strategic decision you had to make for which there was not enough data or benchmarks. In the absence of all the data, what guided your choice and how did you make the call? What was the outcome?
Bias For Action
-Tell me about a time when you felt your team was not moving to action quickly enough. What was the situation? What did you do? What was the outcome? Would you have done anything differently?
-Give me an example of a calculated risk that you have taken where speed was critical. What was the situation and how did you handle it? What steps did you take to mitigate the risk? What was the outcome?
-Tell me about a time you had to make a decision with incomplete information. How did you make it and what was the outcome?
-Tell me about a time you had to make a quick judgement call without time for deep analysis. Describe a situation where you made an important business decision without consulting your manager. What was the situation and how did it turn out?
-Tell me about a time when you had to analyze facts quickly, define key issues, and respond immediately to a situation. What was the outcome?
-Tell me about a time when you have worked against tight deadlines and didn't have the time to consider all options before making a decision. How much time did you have? What approach did you take?
-Give an example of when you had to make an important decision and had to decide between moving forward or gathering more information. What did you do? What information is necessary for you to have before acting?
-Tell me about a time when you were faced with a challenge where the best way forward or strategy to adopt was not “clear cut” (i.e., there were a number of possible solutions or the situation was ambiguous). How did you decide the best way forward?
-Tell me about a time you used customer feedback to drive improvement or innovation. What was the situation and what action did you take?
-Give me an example of when you did not meet a client’s expectations. What happened, and how did you attempt to rectify the situation? Describe a difficult interaction you had with a client. What was the situation and what action did you take? What was the outcome?
-Tell me about a time you handled a difficult customer. What did you do? How did you manage the customer? What was her/his reaction? What was the outcome?
-Tell me about a time you put the customer first, regardless of what peers or higher management directed. What was the outcome? How did this impact day-to-day interaction with your peers and/or management?
-Walk me through a time when you helped a customer through a difficult process and what that looked like.
-Most of us at one time have felt frustrated or impatient when dealing with customers. Can you tell me about a time when you felt this way and how you dealt with it? When do you think it’s ok to push back or say no to an unreasonable customer request?
-Tell me about a time you had to compromise in order to satisfy a customer.
- Tell me about a time a customer wanted one thing, but you felt they needed something else.
-When was a time when you had to balance the needs of the customer with the needs of the business?
-To try to meet the high expectations of our customers, we sometimes promise more than we can deliver. Tell me about a time when you overcommitted yourself or your company. How did you resolve the issue?
-In your opinion, what is the most effective way to evaluate the quality of your product or service to your internal/external customer? Give an example when you used these measures to make a decision. (Manager)
-Give me an example of a change you implemented in your current team or organization to meet the needs of your customers. What has been the result? (Manager)
-Give me a situation in which it took you asking why five times to get to the root cause.
-Tell me about a time you were trying to understand a problem on your team and you had to go down several layers to figure it out. Who did you talk with and what info proved most valuable? How did you use that info to help solve the problem?
-Tell me about a problem you had to solve that required in-depth thought and analysis. How did you know you were focusing on the right things?
-Walk me through a big problem in your organization that you helped to solve. How did you become aware of it? What info did you gather, what was missing, and how did you fill the gaps? Did you do a postmortem analysis and what did you learn?
-Can you tell me about a specific metric you’ve used to identify a need for change in your department? Did you create the metric or was it readily available? How did this and other info influence the change?
-It can be difficult to set goals for a team that are challenging yet achievable. Tell me about a time when you hit the right balance. How did you approach setting the goals? What was the outcome?
-Tell me about a time when you were able to remove a serious roadblock preventing your team from making progress.
-Tell me about a time when you went way beyond the scope of the project and delivered.
-Describe a time when you had to face a particularly challenging situation while working on a project and what you did to overcome it. (Note: The challenge could be with respect to timeline, scope, people, etc. or a combination thereof.)
-Tell me about a time where you not only met your goals but exceeded them.
-Tell me about a time when you uncovered a significant problem in your team. What was it and how did you communicate it to your manager and other stakeholders?
-Describe a time when you significantly contributed to improving morale and productivity on your team. What were the underlying problems and their causes? How did you prevent them from negatively impacting the team in the future?
-Give an example of a time where you were not able to meet a commitment to a team member. What was the commitment and what prevented you from meeting it? What was the outcome and what did you learn from it?
-Tell me about a piece of direct feedback you recently gave to a colleague. How did he or she respond?
-Tell me about a time you had to communicate a big change in direction for which you anticipated people would have a lot of concerns. How did you handle questions and/or resistance? Were you able to get people comfortable with the change?
-Tell me about a time when you needed the cooperation of a peer who didn’t want to give it. How and did you convince them to support you?
-Tell me about a time when you and a peer had competing goals but you needed their support to deliver your goals?
-Describe a time when you had to decide whether or not to award or ask for additional resources. What criteria did you use for making the call?
-Give an example of a time when you challenged your team to come up with a more efficient solution or process. What drove the request? How did you help? What were some of your biggest challenges? What were the results?
-Tell me about a time where you thought of a new way to save money or eliminate waste within your operation.
-Tell me about a time when you had to work with limited time or resources. Describe a time when you improved a process with a limited budget. How did you weigh the options? What was the result?
-Tell me about a time you have created organizational or customer value through either increased revenue stream or lowering the cost structure.
-Give me a time you requested additional funding/budget to complete a project. Why was it needed? Did you try to figure out another approach? Did you get the additional resources? Why or why not?
Have Backbone; Disagree & Commit
-Describe a situation where you thought you were right, but your peers or supervisor did not agree with you. How did you convince them that you were right?
-Tell me about a time that you strongly disagreed with your manager on something you deemed to be very important to the business. What was it about and how did you handle it?
-Give me an example of when you took an unpopular stance in a meeting with peers and your leader and you were the outlier. What was it, why did you feel strongly about it, and what did you do?
-When do you decide to go along with the group decision even if you disagree? Give me an example of a time you chose to acquiesce to the group even when you disagreed. Would you make the same decision now?
-Give me an example of a time the business gained something because you persisted for a length of time. Why were you so determined? How did it turn out?
Hire & Develop The Best
-Tell me about one of the best hires of your career.
-Tell me about a time when you actively coached or mentored somebody. What were your key takeaways? What was the outcome?
-Tell me about a time when you helped a remote team member develop their career. How did you help them develop across the distance?
-Tell me about a time when you provided feedback to a member of your team to leverage or develop their strengths. What was the outcome? What methods of feedback/coaching did you find effective?
-Tell me about a time when you hire someone precisely because they had a skills you didn’t. How were you still able to support their development.
-Tell me about someone who got promoted in your organisation because of the coaching and development efforts you invested in them.
Insist On The Highest Standards
-Tell me about a time when you’ve been unsatisfied with the status quo. What did you do to change it? Were you successful?
-Tell me about a time you wouldn’t compromise on achieving a great outcome when others felt something was already good enough. What was the situation?
-What measures have you personally put in place to ensure performance improvement targets and standards are achieved?
-Describe the most significant, continuous improvement project that you’ve led. What was the catalyst for this change and how did you go about it? Give me an example of a goal you’ve had where you wish you had done better. What was the goal and how could you have improved on it?
-Tell me about a time when you worked to improve the quality of a product / service / solution that was already getting good customer feedback? Why did you think it needed more improvement?
-Tell me about a time you looked at a key process that was working well and questioned whether it was still the right one. What assumptions were you questioning and why? Did you end up making a change to the process?
-Give an example where you refused to compromise your standards around quality/customer service, etc. Why did you feel so strongly about the situation? What were the consequences? The result?
-Tell me about a time you had to make tradeoffs between quality and cost.
Invent & Simplify
-Tell me about a time you were able to make something simpler for customers. What drove you to implement this change?
-Tell me about a time when you gave a simple solution to a complex problem.
-Tell me about a creative idea you had that was difficult to implement. What was the idea and why was it so hard to implement?
-Tell me about an out-of-the box idea you had or decision you made that had a big impact on your business.
-Tell me about the most innovative project you’ve done. Why did you think it was innovative?
- Describe a challenging problem or situation in which the usual approach was not going to work. Why were you unable to take the usual approach? What alternative approach did you take? Was it successful? How did you change the direction or view of a specific function or department, helping them embrace a new way of thinking? Why was a change needed?
-Tell me about a time when you enabled your team/a team member to implement a significant change or improvement. What problem were you trying to solve? How did you measure success? What was the end result/impact?
-Tell me about a time when you enabled your team/a team member to implement a significant change or improvement. What problem were you trying to solve? How did you measure success? What was the end result/impact? (Manager)
Learn & Be Curious
-How do you keep up with industry trends, what your competitors are doing, and best practices?
-What is the coolest thing you’ve learned on your own that has helped you better perform your job?
-What is a recent book you’ve read and what did you learn from it?
-Tell me about a project that required you to learn something new.
-Tell me about a time you took on work outside of your comfort area and found it rewarding.
-Give me an example of a time when you didn't think you were going to meet the commitments you promised. How did you identify the risk and communicate it to stakeholders? What was the outcome?
-Tell me about a time you had to make a short-term sacrifice in order to achieve a long term goal. What was the outcome?
-Tell me about a time you missed a deadline. What happened and what did you learn?
-Give an example of when you saw a peer struggling and decided to step in and help. What was the situation and what actions did you take? What was the outcome?
-What steps do you take to ensure projects you complete get transitioned effectively to new owners?
- How do you ensure your team stays connected to the company vision and the bigger picture?
-Give an example of when you felt a team or individual goal was in conflict with the company vision. What did you do? (Manager)
-Describe a time when you saw some problem and took the initiative to correct it rather than waiting for someone else to do it.
-Tell me about a time when you encouraged a team member or organization to take a big risk. How did you balance the risk against existing business goals? What was the outcome? What did you learn from this situation?
-Tell me about a time when you established a vision for a team when there wasn't one. How did you gain buy-in and drive execution? What was the outcome?
-Tell me about a time when you took a calculated risk in order to achieve a big professional goal. What were the tradeoffs? What was the outcome?
-Tell me about a time you took a big risk – what was the risk, how did you decide to do it and what was the outcome? Tell me about a time you took a big risk and it failed. What did you learn? What would you do differently?
-Give me an example of a radical approach to a big problem you proposed. What was the problem and why did you feel it required a completely different way of thinking about it? Was your approach successful? What would you do differently?
-How do you drive adoption for your vision/ideas? How do you know how well your idea or vision has been adopted by other teams or partners? Give a specific example highlighting one of your ideas.
Tell me about time you were working on an initiative or goal and saw an opportunity to do something much bigger than the initial focus.