They say for a reason that getting a job with one of the three tech giants (Google, Facebook, and Amazon) is a tough task. In my opinion, however, Amazon is the easiest from the three. At Google they have hundreds of difficult puzzles ready for the job applicants, and unless your IQ attacks 140, and you have a fair share of creativity, and some luck on the big day, you simply won’t make it.
Interviews at Facebook are less tricky, but the company hires much less engineers and managers than Google or Amazon, which makes your chances super slim, considering that the company gets close to half million job applications a year.
On the contrary, Amazon is hiring 100,000 new employees globally in 2020/2021 alone. What’s more, they are obsessed with behavioral interviewing, and more or less the same 30 questions repeat in all of their interviews (at least from level 2 to level 5 jobs).
The question are difficult, I’d say even extremely difficult, especially if you do not have a lot of previous working experience. However, it’s still ten times easier than at Google, because here you at least know the questions, and can prepare for them in advance. And you do not have to be a genius to do so… Let’s have a look at them!
Behavioral questions you may face while interviewing for a job with Amazon
Describe a situation when you were under pressure in work
Interviewers want to hear how you reacted to the pressure, if you managed to prioritize your tasks, and how did the pressure you felt affected you in your daily work, or health-wise.
You will most likely face stressful situations and deadlines in your job with Amazon (for example when the phones won’t stop ringing in customer service, or when you have to meet a tight deadline with a project or a release working as a technician or as a manager).
Ensure them that you can remain calm under pressure, and won’t end up in an emergency room. You have passion for what you do, and you understand that the best face pressure—because others always try to outclass them, to win their position on the market…
If it is your first job application, you can talk about a situation from school, or you can tell them what you would do in a stressful situation. Let’s check one sample answer:
To be honest, I believe to perform better under pressure. I faced many deadlines in my last job in market research. They helped me to stay focused, to organize my day properly, and to learn to prioritize my work, ensuring that I’d meet the deadlines. The key is to not let the pressure get the better of you, and I believe to have this ability.
And also, you have to accept that sometimes you won’t meet the deadline, because you do not have everything under control. For example when you need a report from another employee and they do not send it to you in time, you cannot do much about it. You can send them a reminder or call them, but eventually you have to wait.
Describe a situation when you reached a goal and tell us how you achieved it.
Goals help us to feel motivated. It is easier to prepare a “to-do list”, and to understand the importance of each task on our list, if we have goals that we try to achieve in work—regardless of the job we do.
Interviewers try to understand if you set goals for yourself (each responsible employee has some goals). What is more, your answer to the second part of the question (how you achieved the goal) helps them to understand your methodology of work, and your attitude to work.
You should clearly define the goal you set, how it related to the goals of your employer, and the steps you took to achieve the goal. You can also say what it meant for you, and how did achieving the goal help your employer, and give credit to people who helped you on your way (if there were any). Such an answer will present you as someone who cares for their employer, and does not think only about their personal gain. See one sample answer below:
I set a goal to improve the conversion rate on the website of the client. I really liked their product, and believed in the value it brought to the customers. Doing a lot of split testing, changing landing pages, and optimizing advertising campaigns, we actually managed to increase their ROI by 100%.
Client was happy, my manager was happy—the client prolonged the contract with us, and I was also happy, with a good job I had done. Of course this was a result of a lot of testing, and also of being brave, and trying new things. Because the client considered their original conversion rate good enough when comparing it to industry average. But I wanted to give it a shot, I thought it could be improved significantly, and that’s exactly what I eventually achieved.
Describe a crisis of motivation you faced. How did you overcome it?
Interviewers try to understand your attitude. Do you mind if the work is repetitive? Because it will be in many jobs at Amazon, at least when we talk about level one to three.
Do you get bored easily? Do you look for something to do while in the office, or do you always wait for an order from your superior?
Everyone struggles with motivation at times. The key is to show them that you did your best to overcome the crisis.
You can say how your goals (in the job or outside of it) helped you to deal with the crisis, or how the sense of purpose you saw in the job helped you to get over the difficult period.
If this is your first job application, say what you would do to stay motivated, or narrate a situation from school. Remember that your attitude matters more than the particular situation you narrate.
I worked as a cashier during my studies, which is an extremely repetitive job. Though I sometimes found my day boring, I do not think that the customers noticed that. I knew what was expected from me, and I understood why I woke up every morning to work for a few hours before I went to school. I needed money to pay my college expenses.
Most jobs are repetitive, but I believe that people who have some goals don’t struggle with their motivation. At least that’s my experience.
Special Tip: If you like what you are reading, you may have a look at an eBook I published recently, called Amazon Interview Guide. It includes multiple (3 to 7) great answers to 50 questions you may realistically get while interviewing with Amazon (10 screening questions, 30 behavioral, and 10 odd questions).
Some great samples are included directly on the eBook page, so it makes sense to check it out even if you do not want to purchase anything. Thank you!
Give me an example of a time when you showed initiative.
In any job you may get with Amazon, they will always be looking for proactive approach. Ensure them that you won’t just blindly follow the orders of your superiors, or sit in your comfy office checking your Facebook feed, until someone demands your attention.
You can talk about a variety of situations—for example when you made a suggestion on improving some process, or when you stayed overtime for long hours, not because someone told you to do so, but because you saw how heavy the workload was, and decided to sacrifice something for your employer.
An ability to speak up and challenge your superior, or even the status quo, is also highly valued at Amazon. Do not hesitate to relate to such a situation. You can also always add to your answer that you like to take initiative, and try to keep your eyes open at work, looking for possible improvements.
I always try to have a proactive approach to work. For example in my last job in sales, I found it strange that we did not have an existing database of leads available. The fluctuation was very high in the sales department, but whoever left the company took their leads with them, and new sales reps lost a lot of time doing their research online, looking for leads.
I suggested that each sales representative should enter their leads to the internal database, together with any information they have about the prospects. As long as they stay with the company, this is their private asset and nobody else can see the database. But when they leave, their superior should get an access, and can offer it to new sales reps, to help them kickstart the sales.
My superiors didn’t like the idea—and I am not sure why. But I still took the initiative and challenged how they did things in the company, though I was a new member of the team…
* Do you want to practice your interview answers later? Download the full list of questions in a simple, one page long PDF, and practice later with a friend, or in front of a mirror:
Tell me about a time when you coached someone.
The most important thing is to demonstrate that you understand the difference between coaching people, managing them, and bossing them.
More than anything else, coaching is about asking the right questions, and letting your subordinates or students to find the answers on their own.
It’s much more effective learning process than telling them directly that they should do this or that in work, or bossing them for their mistakes.
When you induce creative thinking in your people, when they find the answers on their own, they will remember them, accept them easier, and they will also grow as future leaders.
Of course, you can talk also about more direct coaching, for example when you helped new hires with orientation in the workplace, or explained some processes to your colleagues. As long as the interviewers see that you can patiently coach your colleagues (or perhaps even the customers who experience some technical issue), they will be satisfied with your answer.
In my last job was responsible for orientation of new sales representatives. I always tried to be nice to them, and explain everything in detail. Not only how the job works, and the processes we have in place, but also where is the canteen, what is the rush hour, where they can seek help if they face this or that problem, and so on.
I always asked them follow up questions, to ensure that they understood my instructions correctly.
In my opinion, it’s never easy to start in a new job, when you do not know anyone in the company. It’s great to feel that a colleague is honestly interested in showing you around, perhaps also introducing you to some other colleagues, and explaining you the basics of the job, some common challenges and pitfalls. You can also encourage the person, and that’s what I always tried to do.
Other 25 behavioral questions you may face in your interview with Amazon
- Describe a conflict you had with your colleague.
- Describe a situation when you went above and beyond with your service (for the customer, for the colleague).
- Tell us about a time when you had to deal with an angry or upset client (customer).
- Describe a situation when you did not agree with an opinion (or decision) of your superior or supervisor, and knew that they were wrong.
- Describe a situation when you faced a particularly demanding problem or challenge in your personal life. How did that affect you in your job?
- Tell us about a situation when you were unable to solve the problem on your own.
- Describe a time when you struggled to communicate something to your boss, colleague, or customer. How did you manage to get your message over?
- Talk about a time when you experienced a conflict of your personal and professional interests.
- Describe the biggest failure of your professional career.
- Tell me about a time when you delegated a project effectively.
- Tell me about a time you had to work hard to please a client.
- 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?
- If a supervisor asked you to do something unsafe that went against policy, what would you do?
- Tell me about a time when you had to make a quick decision that was going to have a significant impact on the business.
- Tell us about a time when you missed a deadline or productivity target?
- Describe a situation when you had to comply with a policy or procedure that you did not agree with
- Tell me about the last time you had to apologize to someone.
- Tell us about as time when you faced a problem that had multiple possible solutions.
- Describe a situation when you had to deal with ambiguity.
- What’s the most innovative idea that you have implemented?
- Tell me about a time you stepped up into a leadership role.
- Describe a time when you sacrificed short term goals for long term success.
- Tell me about a time when you took a calculated risk.
Special tip: If you aren’t sure how to answer the questions, or experience anxiety before the start of your interview, have a look at our eBook, the Amazon Interview Guide. Multiple brilliant answers to each behavioral question that hiring managers may ask you at Amazon will make your life much easier on the big day. Thank you for checking it out, and I wish you best of luck!
May also interest you:
- How to overcome interview nerves – 4 strategies that will help you calm down before the important meeting with the employer.
- Salary negotiation tips – Learn how to get as much as you deserve in your interview with Amazon (or with anyone else).