Acing the Amazon behavioral interview

June 27, 2022

It can be exhilarating to learn you've landed a tech job at Amazon. The next step usually involves an interview. Even seasoned managers find it challenging to crack the code when answering questions posed during the Amazon interview.
Acing the Amazon behavioral interview

When you look at it critically, interviews have earned a reputation over the years as a way to separate the chaff from the grain and hire the best. There have even been books that guide candidates on acing the interviews. Feel free to get in touch with MentorCruise to receive help and ace Amazon’s behavioral interview.

Amazon’s interview format takes an entirely different approach where the organization emphasizes 16 principles that employees must abide by. Interviews here usually involve open-ended questions that help the interviewing panel find the best candidates to fill any open roles. This article will provide a few tips to help you specifically ace the behavioral interview at Amazon.

Amazon Interview Quick Statistics

Only 2% of all candidates who apply for open vacancies at Amazon make it to the interview round. If you make it to the in-person interview, you should expect to meet four to eight candidates who have applied for the same position.

What is a Behavioral Interview at Amazon?

As stated earlier on in the article, Amazon emphasizes 16 guiding principles. The hiring process involves asking open-ended questions such as tell us about a time you…

There's also a significant emphasis on practical skills such as teamwork and communication, which come in handy when executing the job.

Behavioral questions at Amazon are mandatory regardless of the role you’re interviewing for. The only distinguishing factor is the frequency and type of question based on the position you're interviewing for. Some examples of behavioral interview questions you're likely to encounter at Amazon are:

  • Tell me about a time when you helped a customer

  • Tell me about a time you faced a complex problem and how you solved it

  • Tell me about a time you went above and beyond your job description

You may also be interested in reading How to pick your next tech role.

What Qualities Does Amazon Look for in a Candidate?

The hiring managers will most likely gauge your ability to adhere to the 16 guiding principles at Amazon. Interviewers are assigned one or more codes to test the candidate per interviewing round. Some candidates have reported being asked to recite all the 16 principles, so it would be best to go prepared.

It's also possible to receive multiple questions related to one principle, so it's imperative to have different instances of how you were able to apply any of those principles. Here are the 16 principles that Amazon abides by:

  • Customer obsession

  • Ownership

  • Bias for action

  • Have Backbone; Disagree and Commit

  • Invent and simplify

  • Dive deep

  • Are you right, a lot

  • Deliver results

  • Think big

  • Hire and develop the best

  • Frugality

  • Learn and be curious

  • Insist on the highest standards

  • Earn trust

  • Strive to be earth’s best employer

  • Success and scale bring broad responsibility

The STAR Method

Amazon insists on using the Star method, which is a direct way of answering questions instead of beating around the bush. For example, Jeff Bezos explained that speed matters in business when he was told to explain the Bias for action business principle.

STAR stands for:

S: Describe the situation/issue that the business was facing

T: Mention your specific task you needed to do to solve the issue

A: Delineate the actions you’ve done when executing on the task

R: Mention the results achieved

Now that we’ve understood what Amazon star is, let’s delve into some of the most common behavioral interview questions at Amazon and how to answer them:

  1. Tell me about your most challenging customer and how you dealt with them

Amazon has a lot of customers and you'll most likely encounter a few who are stubborn. One of the guiding principles at Amazon is customer service, and it's therefore essential you demonstrate this skill if you want to get your foot in the door.

You've most likely encountered a stubborn customer in your past roles. Use these situations to explain how you dealt with the problem and how it all worked out in the end.

How to Answer

I had this one customer who believed I was telling a lie.

Unfortunately, there had been a delay in releasing his payment, and he thought he was being scammed. He had the right to be angry, so I knew I had to find a solution fast.

As we spoke, I had to give him my undivided attention, occasionally repeating what he was saying to make him understand I was following. I also asked questions when something was unclear.

I managed to get the customer paid while ensuring the company didn't suffer financially. I'm happy to report that he's still a loyal customer.

Describe a Situation When you had to Make a Decision Without Data to Back you up

This question is aimed at testing your problem-solving skills. It's most likely you'll encounter situations that will require you to make decisions quickly. Focus on what you did to deal with a situation that required you to make quick decisions instead of blaming others for the outcome.

Answer

I was still a new hire when I was assigned to meet with one of the suppliers. My manager explained that we needed to hire a new supplier soon, and I knew what to look for.

The challenge was that the manager hadn't communicated about the budget. The manager was on leave at that time, so I reviewed the budget for the previous year. I then prepared an estimate with the information

I had obtained, and alas, I solved the problem in no time, and we had a new supplier.

Which Amazon Principle Resonates With You and Why?

Amazon believes in abiding by the 16 principles which you've looked at above. Before walking into the interview room, you should go through them and understand what each of them stands for. Be prepared because the interviews may take it a step further, and request you to recite all of them. You should also provide a comprehensive explanation of the principle that resonates with you.

Answer

The principle that resonates with me most is customer obsession. Without customers, there would be no business. My past roles have sharpened me to understand how to deal with customers. I also understand that customers' interests should be at the center, especially here at Amazon. I understand fully that a customer can either make or break an organization.

Tell me About a Time you had Worked on a Project Almost to Completion and Realized you had to Make Changes. How did you Adapt, and did you Harbor Negative Feelings?

The question tests how adaptable you are and how well you deal with stressful situations. You can encounter the question when having an Amazon virtual interview

Answer

I was once tasked with the responsibility to get a competitor business that we had purchased recently up and going. I prioritized the tasks based on urgency and spent three days inputting all the required credentials when I realized discrepancies in the data I was using. The data had expired, and the items I inputted were no longer on sale. I got in touch with the manager immediately and explained the situation.

I then dedicated the remainder of the day to delete the system's data. As you can imagine, I felt frustrated, but I understood this was something that had to be done.

Feel free to read Tell me about a time you failed - sample answers

Can you Give me an Instance When you Went Above and Beyond Your Expectations?

The answer to this question is geared towards understanding what type of employee you are. Do you conform to the instructions or find ways to complete the tasks with better results? The best approach to the question is to give an instance you were given a task and instructions and how you exceeded expectations and achieved a more significant outcome.

Answer

In my last role, I was among the employees who proposed and implemented customer reviews to help identify areas for improvement. After each transaction, I was tasked with contacting the customers via email and getting feedback regarding what they loved about the entire process and what they'd love to improve. I understand that most customers don't open these types of emails from my personal experiences.

I asked them if it was okay to send them an email with a link to the site. I'm happy to report that the results were astounding.

Think About a Time you Received Negative Feedback. How did you Deal With It?

Negative feedback can come from within or outside the organization. In ideal situations, you'd only receive positive feedback, but that's not always the case when dealing with human beings who have shortcomings. It would help if you were careful about the example you provide because it will have a significant impact on whether you move on to the next interview round or not. Use the chance to demonstrate that you’re a good listener and implement feedback.

Answer

My manager complained about my ability to prioritize tasks in my previous role. I was used to receiving tasks from my manager, but this changed after joining my previous organization.

The tasks came from different quarters, making it difficult to track which tasks to complete. I took time to look at the situation critically rather than be defensive. I realized that the manager thought I was completing a few tasks because he didn't understand I was also receiving work from other colleagues.

I explained the whole situation to him, and we agreed on a solution of recording all the tasks I had completed electronically. I could mitigate the situation by listening and implementing the feedback from my manager.

Read also (2022) Top 16 Interview Coaching Services to Ace Your Job Search

Ready to Ace your Behavioral Interview?

If you’ve managed to land an interview at Amazon, congratulations. It’s important to understand that if you want to get your foot in the door, you need to be aware of Amazon’s behavioral interview and prepare accordingly.

If you’re still not sure how to go about it, get in touch with MentorCruise. We will provide practical skills on landing your next job in Amazon.

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