How One Candidate Succeeded In Their Amazon Interview

published on 16 October 2021

I am an IT Technical Project Manager with over 10 yrs of experience, managing multiple projects and diverse cross-functional teams. Feeling unchallenged, I decided to try Amazon. Major driving factor: my colleagues and friends were moving to AWS. I created my Amazon jobs profile, uploaded a resume, and applied for Technical Program Manager & EngagementMgr positions. (PS: I do not have any AWS experience). Within the same week, I got emails to schedule a phone interview for two distinct positions: Technical Program Manager & Engagement Mgr. Both got scheduled within a week with a day apart. I had no sense of Amazon interviews back then. I briefly checked online, primarily YouTube, and found multiple materials from varied content creators. It was overwhelming, and I picked one who claimed to understand LPs well and had examples for each LP in the videos. It was a wrong choice. I should have researched more. The questions were obvious when I interviewed for the phone screening; however, my newly molded understanding of the LPs did not reflect what the interviewers wanted. Both received a rejection. 

I wanted to explore the mistakes I made. My exploratory task led me to compare other YouTube content creators, and I came across GG. I took her free CO course, and it was an eye-opener. As I was streaming the course, reviewing the facets and checklist on what interviewers were looking for, my mind poured in stories/examples from my experience. I took GG's Ultimate course the same day, including interview prep, and drafted 23 stories in a week. Each story was behavioral STARI [Improve, must have] with a technical blend, backed by data and customer obsession sprinkled.

I took GG's facets and checklist very seriously, yielding lengthier examples (10-15 mins) and capturing multiple LPs. I updated my resume to reflect the criteria backed by data. Once I was comfortable, I applied for Sr.Technical Program Manager and received a phone screen interview. 

The interview asked me two questions and had no follow-ups. She said my replies covered all her questions for the session. In about two days, I received an email to schedule the loop. It was spread over two days. The recruiter informed me 2-3 days before the loop that there would be a written assignment. The assignment had two questions, and I had to pick one. One question asked me about an innovative thing I came up with, and the other on a judgment call. I opted for innovating and primarily merged my LPs examples of Invent+ThinkBig. I submitted it a day before the loop. During the submission, I noticed that the character limit for the answer was 8000, and my writeup was roughly 7500 chars in length.

The recruiter informed me that two of the five interviews will be technical [problem-solving] and that I should be ready with a physical whiteboard or use a digital alternative on my computer and share the screen. [It never happened, maybe as my examples had what interviewers sought]

My very first interview was with the Bar Raiser. There were two individuals, one leading the discussion and the other shadowing the lead. It was just like the phone screen session, nothing exceptional. The Bar Raiser asked me questions/clarifications while I was talking. I was in high gear. I knew what he was looking for in my reply. For example, he asked me why I took a so-n-so decision, and my response was that I'd know promptly if my approach succeeded or failed and that I'd be able to revert fast if it failed [two way-door decisions]. After the very first interview, I was confident that I could excel in this marathon. The following two  interviews for the day went exceptionally well.

By the way, I had all my questions (2 - 3) for the interviewers lined up too. One question (last one) was common for all, which they liked a lot - How has Amazon changed you since you joined?

The next day, I had two interviews lined up, first with Hiring Manager and another with a Sr.Technical Program Manager. The HM asked me word-to-word the same questions that I already had faced the previous day, "Invent" and "Above & Beyond". So I had to repeat my examples. Worse, the HM had a dog in the room and kept barking for good 30-40 mins. It was very distracting. I had to pause multiple times, and HM kept asking me to ignore and proceed. This is when I felt I could not give my best. 

Over the two days, I was interviewed with five Amazonians and used 14 of my 23 examples. I used two stories twice as the exact same question was asked. 

Five days into the interview, I got a call from the recruiter. The Hiring Manager is not going to proceed with me. However, I raised the bar, and that Amazon wants me. So she said there's another Hiring Manager who looked at my resume and is interested. I need to have a 30mins 'Informational Session' with him. It was scheduled for the very next day.

It went very well. The new Hiring Manager explained his project, talked about the team, and asked me how I felt. I described him my current responsibilities and that it aligns with what they are looking for. 

The next day, I got a call from the recruiter with an offer. I cannot thank GG enough! Without her help, this would not be possible. 

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