Biggest Amazon Interview Strategy Mistake

published on 22 September 2021

What you'll face in an Amazon interview is both predictable and unpredictable at the same time.

You can research the structure and the potential questions, but you'll never predict exactly what Amazon interview questions you'll be asked.

There are some strategic decisions you can make up front such as:

  1. Am I going to prioritise stories that align to the role or those that seem most impressive
  2. Am I going to give lots of detail or struct the interviewers to ask me the right questions?

You'll get different advice from different people on some of these strategies but there's one strategy that every coach you talk to would agree that is always a mistake.

What Is the Biggest Amazon Interview Strategy Mistake?

A significant proportion of unsuccessful candidates I’ve spoke to had something in common.

They didn’t use their very strongest examples in early rounds.

They never made it to the final round and so never got to show Amazon what they’re really capable of.

Why Do People Make This Amazon Interview Mistake?

It's completely understandable.

The final round of an Amazon interview is where the rubber really hits the road. That’s your last chance to impress and convince the interviewers that you’re bar raising.

You’d want to share your best examples and have them new and impressive…right?

But let me share some data with you that might help re-frame it for you.

What does the Amazon interview funnel look like?

In the past I could have told you exactly what steps you’d go through in an Amazon interview. It was more or less the same for all roles. In recent years there's been a huge deviation in processes across teams, with lots of experimentation happening to optimise outcomes versus resource investment.

But one truth remains universal, the top of the funnel for any Amazon role is very very wide, the bottom of the funnel is very very narrow. This means there is a large drop off of candidates between rounds.

I’ve never seen actual data on the average success rate round by round across the whole of Amazon. It of course varies a lot between Business Units and roles, but I have interviewed extensively and of course discussed it with my peers and the below is a general estimate.

Round 1 success 1-2 out of 10 candidates

Round 2 – 2-4 out of 10 candidates

That means the odds are stacked against you.

You must bring your best examples to the early rounds or you may never get to the final round.

If I use my best example in the early Amazon interviews, can I use them again?


I do coach a strategy of avoiding repeating examples across Amazon interviews if possible.

However when it comes to extremely strong examples there is a way to repeat them but still provide new data.

That’s to completely re-shape them for a different Leadership Principle.

Most strong examples have 2-3 different Leadership Principles in them.

With the right process you should be able to create multiple versions of your examples focusing on different Leadership Principles.

It’s ok to repeat a story if it highlights completely different Leadership Principles. It's not ok to never get a chance to share your best stories.

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