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Answering "Hire and develop the best" Amazon interview question

Amazon’s leadership principles are one of its most valuable assets. Not only does it drive their company success, but it also gives them a competitive edge over other companies in the industry.

If you want to be a successful leader at Amazon or just get hired by them, then this leadership principle is one you must follow.

The principle, in Amazon’s words

“Leaders raise the performance bar with every hire and promotion. They recognize exceptional talent and willingly move them throughout the organization. Leaders develop leaders and take their role in coaching others seriously. We work on behalf of our people to invent mechanisms for development like Career Choice.”

What does this principle mean?

According to this principle, leaders should hire and promote the best people. Leaders should recognize exceptional talent. Leaders must help their employees develop themselves. That’s why they must be willing to move high-performing individuals throughout the organization. Since leaders are responsible for the success of their employees, they need to take coaching seriously, and they should consider developing leaders as one of their primary responsibilities.

If you want to be a successful leader at Amazon or just get hired by them, you must follow this principle while working on your application process. Keep in mind that Amazon employs only the best people, so you should always try to compete with them or exceed their expectations.

According to Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, this principle was the first one that his company embraced when he started building it in 1994. And since then, they’ve been following it every day. They chose this principle to guide them because they wanted to build a company that would last for decades and centuries, and it would be able to show clearly what good leadership means.

Even though the first idea of Amazon was just creating an online bookstore, Bezos has always focused on finding the best people he could hire. He knew that to create a world-class company, they needed exceptional people. He believed that if he found these people and hired them, the rest would be just a matter of time until they became successful.

Why is this leadership principle beneficial for Amazon?

The main advantage of following this principle is that Amazon gets to have a competitive advantage due to having highly talented employees who are ready to do everything that it takes to ensure customers are satisfied with their experience. It also encourages high-performing employees to stay with the company since they get a lot of support and opportunities to grow further.

What are they looking for?

By hiring and developing the best, Amazon can win against companies that just hire anyone without thinking about whether that person will be beneficial for them in the future.

  • What is your management style?
  • What can you tell me that demonstrates your ability to inspire and lead others?
  • What is the most important quality for a good manager at Amazon?
  • Can you please describe an example of when you successfully developed someone?
  • What qualities do you look for in training programs when considering new hires at Amazon?
  • How do you ensure you hire the best people?
  • How do you develop the skills of your team?
  • How can managers communicate with their employees to get the best out of them?
  • How would you rate yourself as a manager, and why?
  • Tell me how you help your team members develop their careers?
  • What was the last situation where you developed your team members?
  • How do you make sure that your employees are achieving their goals?
  • Why should people choose to work at Amazon rather than other companies?
  • Tell me about a time when you had to deal with a conflict between two team members?
  • How do you motivate your team members to perform at their highest level?
  • What qualities make a good manager, in your opinion?
  • When have you been most satisfied in your leadership role?

Tips on how to answer these Amazon interview questions and the STAR strategy

For some of the Amazon interview questions, you can use specific examples from your previous work experience. Try to show the interviewer that you can get “the best” out of your employees by giving them challenging assignments that will help them grow and develop their skills.

Be prepared with answers that demonstrate your ability to promote people by letting them take on additional responsibilities or giving them essential projects. Think of a time when you delegated an important task to someone who wasn’t feeling confident about it, but after working on it, they became incredibly proud of the results and were motivated by the challenge.

Don’t forget that Amazon always wants to hire people who are not afraid of challenges and who are willing to learn and grow. Showing you are ready to take on new responsibilities will show them that you really care about your future with the company.

When talking about the qualities of a good manager, make sure to name more than just leadership and people skills (that’s what most people say). For example, you can mention that a good manager is also a good teacher who knows how to communicate with their team in a way everyone can understand.

If you have no previous experience, think of a time when you had to lead a project at school or university and follow the steps mentioned above. We personally like to use the STAR strategy when giving an answer:

  • Situation (tell them what the situation was and how it made you feel)
  • Task (what tasks were involved and what was your role)
  • Action (show them that you took immediate measures to solve the problem)
  • Results (after your actions, explain what the result was - good or bad- and how it felt like to be the leader of that project).

Sample answers using the STAR framework

Question 1: Tell me about a time when you had to deal with a conflict between two of your team members?

Your Response:

Situation: “My team member, James, was angry at Sarah because she didn’t get his work done on time, and he felt that it was her responsibility to do so.

Task: “The goal was to find a solution for this conflict between the two team members.

Action: “I sat them down together and explained that we have a shared goal as a team, which is to deliver the work on time, so it’s important for them to help each other. They both agreed that this was a good idea, and they ended up helping each other finish their work on time.”

Result: “Later, I noticed that they were talking to each other more, and I could see that they were supporting each other better, so it was nice to see them working together.”

Question 2: Can you please describe an example of when you successfully developed someone?

Your Response:

Situation: “My colleague, Stacy, was very quiet and shy when we first started working together. She didn’t enjoy speaking in front of a big audience, and she felt like she wouldn’t be able to present her own ideas when we worked on projects.

Task: “The task was to help her improve her public speaking skills and show her that she is ready to present her own ideas if necessary.

Action: “I started by giving all of my attention to Stacy when we were working on a new presentation together. I made sure to ask for her opinion first, which really boosted up her confidence as she felt more involved in the project.”

Result: “The second time we presented the project to our team, she spoke with confidence, and I could see everyone was listening carefully to what she had to say. She felt more confident about her work overall.”

Question 3: What can you tell me that demonstrates your ability to inspire and lead others?

Your Response:

Situation: “Once, I had to lead a project which involved the whole department.

Task: “My goal was to be able to successfully implement a new event for our clients and motivate my team members throughout the process. People were afraid of changes, so it wasn’t easy at first, but most of them followed my example.”

Action: “I took the lead at the start of the project and showed everyone that I was committed to it. Then, when someone started to doubt about what we were doing, I’d ask them if they had any ideas for improvements. That way, everyone felt involved in making it a success.”

Result: “The second time I proposed this idea, nobody opposed, so I knew I was on the right track.”

This method to answer an interview question is well known because it’s simple yet effective. The STAR framework works very well for any question, especially the behavioural ones.

Give real examples

It’s essential to keep in mind that you should always give a real example so your interviewer can easily picture what you are talking about and learn more about your leadership skills at the same time. An example that happened in the past is always better than a story you created yourself because it’s much more convincing and further proves your leadership skills!

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