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Acing “Learn and Be Curious” Amazon Interview Questions

Amazon is known for its grueling interview process. In fact, according to the Wall Street Journal, it’s consistently ranked on the Top 25 Most Difficult Companies to Interview list.

At MentorCruise, we know how nerve-wracking the Amazon interview process can be, which is why we’ve put together this guide. The trickiest aspect of Amazon interviews is perhaps the range of questions that might be thrown at you. Luckily, you can get a grip on the interview process by understanding the Amazon Leadership Principles.

To kick off our knowledge sharing, we’ll be starting with the “Learn and Be Curious” principle, which is focused on innovative mindsets. Here you’ll learn about this principle, typical interview questions and tips for acing this type of questions.

About the Amazon Leadership Principles

These 14 principles define the ideal conduct for Amazon, including employees. Amazon uses these values to guide decision-making and get full vision into hiring candidates.

For this reason, the Amazon Leadership Principles are often tested during the interview process. These principles can be useful starting points for preparing how to talk about your professional and personal background.

How Amazon explains “Learn and Be Curious”

“Leaders are never done learning and always seek to improve themselves. They are curious about new possibilities and act to explore them.” - Amazon Leadership Principle #5

The meaning of “Learn and Be Curious”

Curiosity has always been at the core of Amazon’s success and the engine for its new offerings. In fact, one of Jeff Bezos’ famous sayings is “let curiosity be your compass.”

“Learn and Be Curious” is all about how you continue to learn, innovate and challenge the status quo. It’s about whether you have the habits of a lifelong learner and how you develop new ways of thinking.

Why “Learn and Be Curious” is important

By nature, Amazon needs employees who aren’t afraid of challenging current ways of doing things. This innovative mindset is key to building services that meet the unique needs of users today.

In fact, the Amazon workplace is built around learning. According to a McKinsey report, 90% of learning at Amazon “comes from being challenged and having new experiences.” This means that employees will be most successful if they already have this thirst for learning.

In addition, the IT industry requires this type of mindset. In the tech world, everything changes rapidly, including technologies, programming languages, best practices, etc. Without the habit of learning new things, it’s hard to keep up.

Typical interview questions for “Learn and Be Curious”

Interview questions for “Learn and Be Curious” are usually focused on your learning mindset, experiences and habits. Here are some typical ones to prepare:

  • Tell me something interesting you’ve learned recently.
  • Tell me about a key lesson you’ve learned this past year.
  • Tell me about an experience that changed your way of thinking.
  • Tell me about a time you influenced change at your organization.
  • Tell me about a time you made a smarter decision at work.
  • Tell me about a time when you learned something from a peer at work.
  • Tell me about a time when you took a big risk and it paid off.
  • Tell me about a time when you took on work outside of your comfort area.
  • Tell me about a time when you challenged the status quo at work.
  • How do you stay motivated at your job?
  • How do you keep up with industry trends or technologies?
  • How do you take the pulse on industry competitors?
  • How do you create innovative habits?
  • How do you keep a fresh perspective on industry problems?
  • What’s the coolest thing you’ve learned on your own that has helped in your job?
  • How do you judge yourself? By what standards?

Tips on how to answer “Learn and Be Curious” questions

When you respond to “Learn and Be Curious” questions, it’s important to give depth to your answers with specific details. However, your answers should always be highly relevant and showcase your expertise whenever possible.

Here are some tips to avoid stumbling through “Learn and Be Curious” questions and create powerful responses.

  • Use the CAR/STAR method to frame your answers (see below).
  • Come up with 2-4 key work experiences to reference.
  • Don’t back away from failures.
  • Know exactly why you want to work at Amazon.

Ultimately, your answers to “Learn and Be Curious” should be highly personalized with details from your own experiences.

Using CAR and STAR methods to frame your answers

Both the CAR and STAR methods are excellent for answering questions with a high level of depth and detail.

CAR: “Context - Action - Result”

The CAR method divides your answer into three parts, so that you can highlight how your actions made a difference:

  • Context: Overview of the problem
  • Action: What you did to solve this problem
  • Result: How this solution made an impact

STAR: “Situation - Task - Action - Results”

The STAR method separates your response into four sections, which ensures that the full scenario is well-understand:

  • Situation: Context about the problem
  • Task: Your role in resolving the problem
  • Action: The specific actions you took to solve this problem
  • Results: The outcome of this solution, including success metrics

Sample answers using the CAR and STAR methods

“Tell me about a time when you challenged the status quo at work.” (CAR method)

Context: Recently, my company entered our busiest season for back-to-school laptop orders. This meant that my team was strapped for time and working extra hours to get everything done. During this period, I noticed that we were spending about 8 hours a week in virtual meetings and thought we could save time by reducing meetings.

Action: I knew we could manage our meeting time better, so I wrote a short proposal to cut half the meetings and use our project management tool Asana to handle issues we might normally discuss during these meetings.

Result: I presented my proposal to my lead with a clear outline of how those meetings would be covered in other ways. Ultimately, the company adopted the plan and ended up saving 20+ hours of meeting time per month.

Prepare for your Amazon interview on MentorCruise

These “Learn and Be Curious” questions are just the start of preparing for your Amazon interview. You can get more info about other Amazon Leadership Principles and more interview prep resources on MentorCruise.

Don’t forget to check out our top Amazon mentors and Amazon Web Services (AWS) mentors to get expert help with your interview prep, too.

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