Amazon STAR Method: Sample Answers

Aug. 17, 2022

With over 1.1 million people employed, Amazon is one of the largest companies in the world, which means it also receives a massive amount of applications each year from hopeful candidates. In 2021 on a single career day alone, Amazon received over 500,000 applications to fill its ranks.
Amazon STAR Method: Sample Answers

Only the people with the best fit for these positions are wanted, which is why recruiters recommend using the Amazon STAR Method to candidates to help them put their best foot forward when answering the Amazon tier 3 interview questions. The Amazon STAR Method is an acronym for:

  • Situation: What was the situation at your previous job that you faced?

  • Task: What did you need to do when the situation arose?

  • Action: How did you take action to resolve the situation?

  • Results: What happened as a result of your actions?

The Amazon STAR Method for answering questions is important because it’s an easy way to communicate an example from your professional experience including the relevant information in a structured way.

At MentorCruise, we can help you prepare for the interview process so that you can ace the Amazon tier 3 interview questions to give you a better chance at being hired. Not only that, but we can also help with the whole interview process by guiding you through:

  • Amazon’s hiring process

  • Amazon’s leadership principles (very important)

  • How to ace interview questions from different categories

  • Examples of using the Amazon STAR Method to answer questions


What is the Amazon STAR Method?

We’ve covered why Amazon encourages people to use the STAR Method to answer their behavioral interview questions. Now let’s run through an example to break down what using this strategy looks like.

Question: Tell me about a project which started small, but eventually became big.

Situation

We had high turnover in the production department which was costing the company a lot of money in labor for Human Resources and opportunity cost of losing experienced employees and lower product quality due to new inexperienced employees being hired and trained.

Breakdown

In this response the situation is clearly presented, along with the impact on the company.

Task

Continuously rehiring to backfill positions was a patch fix. As the Director of Operations responsible for that department, I needed to figure out why we were having such high turnover and address the systemic issue.

Breakdown

The problem is elucidated (high turnover) and the task is clearly identified (find the reason why people are leaving) and ready for a plan of action.

Action

Working with the HR manager, I started an initiative to interview current employees and listen to how they feel working at the company. The questions were designed in a way so that they didn’t lead the employees towards an answer, but could be used as an actionable evaluation of their respective department managers.

The more we planned out this initiative, the more questions kept coming up until it evolved from an investigation into a single department into an investigation into all four of the departments that I oversaw. When I pitched the idea to the VP of Operations, he liked it so much that he pushed the initiative company wide.

Breakdown

The key players are identified in the action (HR Manager, VP of Operations, and the interviewee) and there is a clear example of how the project of figuring out turnover in one department became a company-wide initiative to check in on employee morale and evaluate department managers based on employee answers.

Result

As a result of this initiative, I found out that my Production Manager was treating employees poorly which was the root cause of the high turnover. I let her go and filled her position with someone who has turned out to be a better fit leading the production department and for the company as a whole and turnover has dropped by over 80%. Similar occurrences were identified and actions taken by Directors in other areas as well.

Breakdown

The result of the employee morale initiative in the interviewee’s department is clearly stated, along with what has improved since the action was taken.

Heading (H2): How to prepare for answering questions in the Amazon STAR Method

Before any interview, it’s always best to prepare by researching the company, its values and culture, and the position you’re applying for. As mentioned before, the sheer number of applications received is why Amazon goes through such an extensive hiring process. Here are a few helpful tips to start, but you can dive even deeper with MentorCruise resources to set yourself up for success.

Practice confidence

For those who have a public speaking background, use the experience to your advantage. For those who don’t, it’s time to start practicing in front of a mirror, friends, and family. The more you’re able to practice your responses and body language, the more comfortable you’ll be. A little bit of practice every day is better than cramming long sessions right before the interview!

Record yourself and review the recordings

Whether practicing alone or with other people, record yourself to see how you look while answering questions. Are you slouching? Do you fidget with your hands? Are you making eye contact while answering the Amazon tier 3 interview questions? Note your body language, tone, and energy, and change what you feel needs improvement.

Learn all things Amazon

In the weeks (or months) before your interview, prepare like you’re back in college before the finals. They want you to be successful, which is why Amazon provides tons of material to read up with detailed information about their expectations. Amazon’s leadership principles will play a big part in assessing how you answer interview questions, but also read up on Amazon’s products and services, and featured Amazonians.

Familiarize yourself with Amazon tier 3 interview questions

Review the questions that recruiters will most likely ask you thoroughly and you’ll start to see recurring themes (leadership, change management, conflict resolution, etc.). By grouping questions with common themes together, you can start formulating an answer for each theme instead of each question. Using the previous Amazon STAR Method example about high employee turnover, all of these popular Amazon tier 3 interview questions can be grouped under the theme of decision making or leadership. Here are a few brief examples on how you can highlight certain parts to be relevant to the question:

Tell me about a project which started small, but eventually became big.

I started a small employee morale initiative that spread to the whole company and caused a change in middle management personnel which improved employee morale and production.

Tell me about a time you had to make a decision to make short-term sacrifices for long-term gains.

I had to let go of the Production Manager based on an employee morale investigation I initiated. I urgently brought in and interviewed a few applicants for the position, selecting one who seemed like a good fit.

I covered both the Production Manager duties and my own while training the new manager. It was a stressful time and I worked 12-14 hour days, but overall it was worth it for the company’s employee retention and morale. With this change to a better fit in that role, I was also able to have more of a work-life balance.

Tell me about a time you had to handle a crisis.

The department I was responsible for was seeing a high rate of turnover. I had to figure out why that was happening so I launched an investigation. Turns out the Production Manager was treating her employees poorly. I let her go and hired someone who was a better fit and now we have low turnover with happy employees.

Pitfalls to watch out for with the Amazon STAR Method

Don’t forget, the leadership principle “Hire and develop the best” is why Amazon has such a successful program. If you want to put your best foot forward, MentorCruise can help you be one of the best candidates if you put in the work. With that being said, the best know how to avoid common pitfalls that a majority of people fail at.

1. Answering without enough details

Candidates will usually rush through the answer to a question due to nerves or lack of preparedness. Regardless of if they’ve used the Amazon STAR Method, they leave out key details that tie the story together and fail to make the impact that the recruiters are looking for.

2. Details provided aren’t relevant to the question

Even though an interviewee is confident and uses the STAR method to answer a question, some candidates include details that don’t answer the core part of the question and what the recruiter wants to use to evaluate them.

3. Not demonstrating the impact made in the answer

Sometimes candidates can include all the relevant information, but without tying it all together with the impact of the details provided the story will seem scattered with no resolution. Needless to say, this will not impress the recruiter.

MentorCruise has helped many people achieve their dreams of working at Amazon through mentoring from current and former Amazon employees. If it’s the Amazon interview STAR method, prepping for Amazon tier 3 interview questions, or other ways, MentorCruise can help you realize your dreams. Contact us today to get in touch with one of our mentors!

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