Amazon Interview Questions (Leadership Principles) - Vetted (2021)

updated on 22 September 2021
Amazon Interview Questions
Amazon Interview Questions

After leaving Amazon, where I spent three years as a commercial lead, a hiring manager and an interviewer, I started helping candidates prepare for competency-based interviews with coaching and training (Amazon Interview Bootcamp,  STAR Method Bootcamp and Amazon Interview Deep Dives). All to help them understand how to answer Amazon interview questions based on the Leadership Principles.

Through this experience, I happened to get an insight into what prep resources candidates were using in addition to those that I have built. While I knew that there were some excellent and genuine resources out there, I have also discovered - to my horror - a lot of junk.

A particular category of junk interview prep has to do with Amazon interview questions that are, supposedly, asked during competency-based Amazon interviews. There are plenty of fake questions and question banks out there, which were assembled by folks who never worked in the business and never interviewed for Amazon.

These fake Amazon interview questions are straightforward to spot if you know what you are doing, but if you’ve never been through an Amazon on-site loop, you may not be able to.

So I will correct this issue here. Say hello to Amazon Interview Questions - Vetted by Day One Careers.

What is Amazon Interview Questions - Vetted by Day One Careers?

It’s a list of questions that you can expect to be asked in a competency-based interview at Amazon. These questions aim to evaluate candidate’s previously demonstrated behaviours against the bar set for every one of the 16 Amazon Leadership Principles.

Is this an exhaustive list of questions?

NO. There cannot be and will never be any such thing as an exhaustive list of Amazon interview questions. Yes, Amazon interviewers do have access to a question bank (in fact, all tech companies seem to have interview question banks of their own), but they can and often do improvise.

How can I tell a fake question from a real one?

If you know the main themes of Amazon's Leadership Principles, you can easily spot a question that would never be asked in an Amazon interview. The real questions are behavioural. These questions are looking for evidence from your past behaviours as a way to make a judgment on whether you are likely to raise the bar against a particular Leadership Principle. Therefore, a real onsite Amazon interview question will ALWAYS ask you to tell a story about you taking action in a particular situation in the past, and will NEVER ask you anything else (save and except follow-ups). You will never be asked hypothetical questions or brain teasers. All Amazon interview questions will start with something akin to “Tell me about a time when you {desired action}”

Are these the official Amazon interview questions?

NO. While there is an official Amazon interview question bank, I no longer have access to it.

Where are these questions coming from?

Strictly and exclusively from public sources. The first one is Glassdoor. Glassdoor is the default destination for most candidates looking for Amazon interview questions. It is also the one that, I believe, is most polluted with junk. This is understandable. Glassdoor does not have any curation or vetting for interview questions. Therefore, I had to manually scrub through ten pages of, supposedly, Amazon interview questions to pick out the ones that sounded close to what could be reasonably asked during the interview.

Another source of Amazon interview questions for this article is the Day One Careers community. Some candidates kindly contributed questions after the interviews. While these questions may deviate from what actually went on during the interview, they do capture the key themes of the leadership principles.

How can you tell that these questions are likely to appear in an actual Amazon interview?

Strictly speaking, nobody can guarantee if a particular question will or will not appear in an Amazon interview. Amazonians are free to improvise and are not obliged to pick questions from the internal interview bank. However, based on my experience being a Hiring Manager and an interviewer at Amazon, I believe that these questions reflect the key themes of the Leadership Principles and have a decent chance of being asked in an Amazon interview. If you'd like to super-charge your understanding of Amazon's Leadership Principles and be ready for all eventualities, including improvisations, then I recommend that you consider taking Amazon Interview Bootcamp training.

OK, just give me the interview questions already.

I thought you’d never ask! Here you go. This is a live list, which I will keep updated on as I get more input.

1. Customer Obsession Amazon Interview Questions

  • Tell me about a time you obsessed over giving very high-quality service to a customer.
  • Can you describe a difficult interaction you’ve had with a customer?
  • Can you provide an example of when you asked a customer for feedback? How did you use that feedback to drive innovation or improvement?
  • Have you ever refused to indulge an unreasonable request from a customer?
  • Give me an example of a time you used customer feedback to drive improvement or innovation. What was the situation and what action did you take?
  • Tell me about a time when you went above and beyond the call of duty for a customer. Why did you take the action you did? What was the outcome?

2. Invent & Simplify Questions

  • Tell me about a time when you gave a simple solution to a complex problem.
  • Tell me about a time when you invented something.
  • Please walk me through a different scenario of a process you invented or improved.
  • What’s the most innovative new idea that you have implemented?
  • Tell me about a time you were able to make something significantly simpler for customers. What drove you to implement this change?
  • Example of a time when you proposed a novel approach to a problem (this could also be framed as a Think Big question)

3. Dive Deep Amazon Interview Questions

  • Give me an example of when you used data to make a decision/solve a problem.
  • Tell me about the most complex problem you’ve ever worked on
  • Tell me about a problem you had to solve that required in-depth thought and analysis. How did you know you were focusing on the right things?
  • Tell me about a time you were trying to understand a problem on your team, and you had to go down several layers to figure it out. Who did you talk with and what info proved most valuable? How did you use that info to help solve the problem?

4. Frugality Questions

  • Tell me about a time when you had to work with limited time or resources (D1C: technically, the “limited time” element fits more under Deliver Results, which is why I don’t believe that this would have been the precise question that was asked)
  • Describe a time when you had to manage a budget (or manage time/money/resources/etc.). Were you able to get more out of less?
  • Tell me about a time where you thought of a new way to save money for the company.

5. Ownership Amazon Interview Questions

  • Give me two examples of when you did more than what was required in any job experience (D1C: I don’t know why the interviewer asked for two situations)
  • Tell me about a time when you took on something significant outside your area of responsibility, and why was that important?
  • Describe a time you didn’t think you were going to meet a commitment you promised?

6. Earn Trust Questions

  • Tell me about a critical piece of feedback you received
  • Tell me about a time when you saw your team member was struggling.
  • Building trust with teams can be difficult to achieve sometimes. Can you give me an example of how you effectively built trusting working relationships with others?
  • Can you describe a time you needed the cooperation of a resistant peer? What was the situation, and how did you handle that?
  • Your team goals were misaligned with another team. How were you able to match this up?

7. Have Backbone; Disagree and Commit Interview Questions

  • Tell me about a time when you took an unpopular stance in a meeting with peers and your leader, and you were the outlier.
  • Tell me about a time when do you decide to go along with the group decision even if you disagree.
  • Tell me about a time that you strongly disagreed with your manager on something you deemed to be very important to the business. What was it about, and how did you handle it?

8. Hire & Develop The Best Amazon Interview Questions

  • Tell me about a time when you dealt with an employee with poor performance.
  • Tell me about a time when you coached someone into outstanding performance.
  • Tell me about a time when you’ve built a team for a specific project.

9. Bias for Action Interview Questions

  • Can you give me an example of a calculated risk you have taken where speed was critical? What was the situation, and how did you handle it?
  • Describe a situation where you made an important business decision without consulting your manager
  • Tell me about a time when you had to analyse facts quickly, define key issues, and respond immediately to a situation. What was the outcome?

10. Deliver Results

  • Tell me about a time when you were leading a group, were assigned a goal, and did not reach it.
  • Tell me about a time where you not only met a goal but considerably exceeded expectations.
  • Tell me about a time when you were able to deliver an important project under a tight deadline.
  • Tell me about a time where you did not effectively manage your project, and something did not get completed on time?
  • Tell me about a time you had significant, unanticipated obstacles to overcome in achieving a key goal. Were you eventually successful?
  • Tell me about a time when you were able to remove a serious roadblock/barrier preventing your team from making progress? How were you able to remove the barrier? What was the outcome?
  • Tell me about a time when you were more than half-way and realized it was the wrong goal

11. Insist on the Highest Standards Interview Questions

  • Tell me about a time when you have been unsatisfied with the status quo. What did you do to change it? Were you successful?
  • Tell me about a time when you were dissatisfied with the quality of something at work and went out of your way to improve it.
  • When you refused to compromise around quality or customer service

12. Learn and be Curious

  • What’s the coolest thing that you’ve learned on your own that you’ve then been able to apply in your job and to perform your job further?
  • Tell me about a time where someone openly challenged you. How did you handle this feedback? (D1C: The way this question is phrased makes it sound like Have Backbone; Disagree and Commit. In reality, this is probably a Learn & Be Curious question)
  • Give an example of a tough or critical piece of feedback you received. What was it and what did you do about

13. Think Big Interview Questions

  • Tell me about a time you were working on an initiative or goal and saw an opportunity to do something much bigger than the initial focus.
  • Tell me about a time when very senior people adopted your vision across the organisation.

14. Are Right A Lot Amazon Interview Questions

  • Tell me about a time when you had to work with incomplete data or information (or can you think of a time when you had to make a decision but you didn’t have enough data to be sure you were making the right decision? What did you do and how did it work out?)
  • Can you think of a time you made a bad professional decision? What was the impact of the decision? What did you learn?
  • When you had to make a difficult decision with inputs from a lot of people

15. Strive to be Earth's Best Employer Interview Questions

  • Tell me about a time when you created conditions for others to succeed.
  • Tell me about a time when you drove decisions that created a working environment that's more fun and inclusive.

16. Success and Scale Bring Broad Responsibility

  • Tell me about a time when you reversed a decision when you realised that it had an adverse impact on colleagues outside your immediate working group
  • Tell me about a time when you considered the environmental impact of your decisions

Explore other Amazon-related articles

Amazon Interview Tips and Coaching from an ex-Hiring Manager

Amazon Interview to L7 Offer

Amazon Interview Process - a Hiring Manager's Perspective

How to Answer Amazon Interview Questions About Failures

Read more