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How to Handle “Disagree and Commit” Amazon Interview Questions

The Amazon interview is one of the most challenging out there. As you prepare to ace your Amazon interview, it’s important to understand the breadth of questions you may be asked.

The Amazon Leadership Principles are a good way to help structure your interview prep. These 14 principles outline the ideal qualities for an Amazon employee – which hopefully you will become someday!

To get your interview prep on track, our experts at MentorCruise will go through all 14 Amazon Leadership Principles. Here, we’ll take a deep dive into the “Disagree and Commit” principle, which is aimed at having backbone during workplace conflict.

Below, you’ll find out about this principle, typical interview questions and tips for handling this type of questions.

About the Amazon Leadership Principles

The Amazon Leadership Principles outline the values that all Amazon employees should uphold. Amazon uses these 14 principles 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. To better prepare for your Amazon interview, you can use these principles as jumping-off points to talk about your professional and personal experiences.

How Amazon explains “Disagree and Commit”

“Leaders are obligated to respectfully challenge decisions when they disagree, even when doing so is uncomfortable or exhausting. Leaders have conviction and are tenacious. They do not compromise for the sake of social cohesion. Once a decision is determined, they commit wholly.” - Amazon Leadership Principle #13

The meaning of “Disagree and Commit”

“Disagree and Commit” reframes the way we disagree with our peers, teams and bosses. At Amazon, when you disagree with something it’s your responsibility to argue and convince others. It’s about applying your expertise or unique perspective in order to respectfully and successfully argue your case.

If you state your case and don’t convince others, it’s important to commit anyway. There’s no tolerance at Amazon for saying “I told you so” or sabotaging somebody else’s project. Disagree if you must, but afterward sincerely commit to success.

Why “Disagree and Commit” is important

Amazon is built on looking beyond one’s comfort zone. It’s essential to look conflict in the eye and find ways to disagree, especially with more senior employees. Amazon wants to make sure experts won’t give in to others just to avoid conflict.

Amazon relies on making key decisions in a fast-paced environment. “Disagree and Commit” is about finding the best possible path. In fact, in a shareholder letter, Jeff Bezos mentioned that decisions at Amazon are made with about “70% of the information you wish you had.”

Great decision-making at Amazon is all about looping in all potential options and viewpoints, and finding the one that sticks. “Disagree and Commit” is a key part of that process.

Typical interview questions for “Disagree and Commit”

During an Amazon interview, you should be ready to talk about how you handle conflict and differences in opinion. Here are some typical “Disagree and Commit” interview questions to prepare:

  • Tell me about a time other team members didn’t agree with your ideas. What did you do? How was the project impacted?
  • Tell me about a time you had a conflict with somebody on your team. What was your approach? What was the outcome?
  • Tell me about a time you didn’t accept the status quo.
  • Tell me about an unpopular decision that you made.
  • Tell me about an unpopular opinion that you voiced at a meeting. Would you do it again?
  • Have you ever given in to a popular opinion even when you disagreed? Why? Would you do the same now?
  • Let’s say your manager instructed you to do something you disagreed with. How would you handle this situation?
  • Let’s say you had a new idea that could be important to the business, but your manager wasn’t interested in it. How would you react?
  • Let’s say your team makes a decision that you don’t agree with, but it’s final. How would you act moving forward?

Tips on how to answer “Disagree and Commit” questions

Answering “Disagree and Commit” questions can be tricky. To impress your interviewer, you should respond with depth and details. Whenever possible, you should also highlight your expertise or experiences that show your leadership qualities.

You can build strong responses to “Disagree and Commit” questions by:

  • Using the STAR method to frame your answers (see below).
  • Identifying 2-4 key work experiences to reference.
  • Not shying away from stories that show failure.
  • Knowing exactly why you want to work at Amazon.

Remember to personalize your answers with real work experiences, too.

Using the STAR method to frame your answers

The STAR method is an excellent way for handling questions with personalized details and your depth of experience.

STAR: “Situation - Task - Action - Results”

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

  • 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 answer using the STAR method

“Let’s say your manager instructed you to do something you disagreed with. How would you handle this situation?”

Situation: It’s not easy to disagree with a manager, but I recently faced this situation during the discovery phase for a new software product.

Task: My role was to research a few options for the product architecture, so I came up with two potential solutions – the first short-term and the second long-term. I believed the client should choose the second solution, as it had many more advantages and didn’t rely on so many integrations.

Action: I presented my findings to my manager and he agreed that the long-term solution was better, but that the client would likely choose the first solution because it was quicker and cheaper. He instructed me to let the client decide at our next meeting. However, I didn’t want the client to choose a solution that was inferior, so I created a mini-presentation to show the client in order to convince him that the second solution was truly the best one moving forward.

Results: As a result, the client became interested in the long-term solution and wanted to learn more about it. My boss was pleased with the results, but it wouldn’t have happened if I hadn’t stood up and advocated for my expert opinion.

Get ready for your Amazon interview on MentorCruise

“Disagree and Commit” questions are just a fraction of the ones you’ll be asked during your Amazon interview. To fully prepare all Amazon Leadership Principles, check out more interview prep resources on MentorCruise.

You might also consider getting a top Amazon mentor or Amazon Web Services (AWS) mentor to guide you through your interview prep.

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