Amazon's Leadership Principles Interview: What to Expect and How to Prepare

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amazon leadership principles interview

SEE ALSO: Sample Answers for the Amazon Leadership Principles Interview

By GerardG

Amazon plans to create 100,000 jobs by mid-2018; their recruiters will be working hard to find the best and the brightest. Regardless of what role you apply for, technical or non-technical, they will ask you interview questions that relate to Amazon's Leadership Principles.

In the article below, we'll explain:

  • What is the Amazon leadership principles interview
  • Why they'll ask you leadership principle questions, regardless of role
  • 3 ways you can prepare for the Amazon leadership principles interview, including a special worksheet you don't want to miss

What to Expect: Amazon Leadership Principles Interview

Amazon hiring managers look for specific leadership traits that employees must have if one is to survive in Amazon’s intense and competitive work environment.

Where did the Amazon Principles come from?

Amazon’s leadership principles establish the framework for how everything operates at Amazon. They were written by Amazon’s founder and CEO Jeff Bezos, and are recognized as the values that motivate Amazon employees and are a driving force behind Amazon’s success.

Amazon is known for having a passionate and confrontational culture where employees are constantly challenged and customers always come first. The rate of innovation at Amazon is intense and employees compete with one another to show their contribution to the company’s success. In an article written by Brad Stone for Bloomberg.com, Amazon employee Faisal Masud explains:

“Everybody knows how hard it is and chooses to be there. You are learning constantly, and the pace of innovation is thrilling. I filed patents; I innovated. There is a fierce competitiveness in everything you do.”

To succeed in this type of working environment, employees must show leadership traits that go beyond the norm.

Why are the Amazon Principles so important?

Many Amazon employees quit before their second year. The type of work and challenges that Amazon employees confront on a day-to-day basis requires a special type of workforce. In order for Amazon to continue being the “everything store” and one of the world’s most innovative companies, Amazon strives to hire employees who live and breathe Amazon’s 14 leadership principles.

In a Quora post about Amazon’s leadership principles, Arun Prasath a principal engineer at Amazon, describes how the principles are ingrained in the company’s culture.

“The principles are embodied in the natural way of thought and the common language spoken on a day-to-day basis by Amazonians regardless of function, domain, role, level, business model or target market.” –Arun Prasath, Principal Engineer at Amazon  

Arun advises that when you are interviewing for Amazon it is important to take your time and come up with clear and specific work examples that highlight Amazon’s leadership principles. The interviewer typically looks for responses that include:

  1. The situation: How the problem surfaced in candidate’s past work history.
  2. The behavior: This section describes what candidate specifically did during the discussed situation. A candidate's answer should spend most of the time talk about what they did; most candidates err on an unnecessarily long discussion on the situation.
  3. The impact: Amazon leaders focus on closed-loop thinking. Action is not the only step, it is important to have studied and understood the result of the action. Candidates should provide concrete evidence that his/her actions addressed the situation resulting in clear change.

Interviewers will Ask Questions Related to the Following Amazon Leadership Principles

  • CUSTOMER OBSESSION: Walk us through a time when you helped a customer through a difficult process and what that looked like.
  • OWNERSHIP: Give me a example of when you took a risk and it failed.
  • INVENT AND SIMPLIFY: Tell me a time when you created an innovative product.
  • ARE RIGHT, A LOT: Tell me about a time when you observed two business opportunities to improve ROI, and how did you determine that they were connected.
  • LEARN AND BE CURIOUS: How do you find the time to stay inspired, acquire new knowledge, innovate in your work?
  • HIRE AND DEVELOP THE BEST: Tell me about a time when you had to deal with a poor performer on your team.
  • INSIST ON THE HIGHEST STANDARDS: Tell me about a time when you could have stopped working but persisted.
  • THINK BIG: Tell me about a time when you proposed a new business.
  • BIAS FOR ACTION: Describe how you would handle a busy situation where three people are waiting for help from you.
  • FRUGALITY: Tell me about a time where you thought of a clever new way to save money for the company.
  • EARN TRUST: Tell me a time when you earned trust of a group.
  • DIVE DEEP: Tell me about a time when you had to dive deep into the data and the results you achieved.
  • HAVE BACKBONE, DISAGREE AND COMMIT : Tell me about the most difficult interaction you had at work.
  • DELIVER RESULTS: Tell me about a time where you overcame an obstacle and delivered results.

How to Prepare: Amazon Leadership Principles Interview

Candidates should use this four step approach when developing stories to the leadership principle interview questions.

  1. What was the big drama behind the situation?
  2. What alternatives did you have in addressing the situation?
  3. What did you do?
  4. What results did you expect?

To help organize your interview stories with a minimum amount of time while generating maximum impact, Lewis C. Lin created a spreadsheet you can use to prepare your responses for the Amazon Leadership Principles interview.

What Not to Expect: Amazon Leadership Principles Interview

Do not expect to be tested on all 14 principles during your interview. Amazon interviewers will ask interview questions targeting specific principles related to the candidate’s job function or role.  

HOW TO PREPARE FOR THE AMAZON INTERVIEW

To prepare for the interview, spend an hour on warm up questions such as Why Amazon? And Tell Me About Yourself?

Next, familiarize yourself with the 14 principles and develop work-related stories for each sample question, using Lewis Lin's Amazon interview spreadsheet

SEE ALSO: Sample Answers for the Amazon Leadership Principles Interview

Photo credit: Department of Defense

 


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  • OUTSIDER

    When I was at Amazon Lab126 in Sunnyvale, CA, I taught the class on “Making Great Hiring Decisions” where we trained employees how to interview based on behavioral techniques. STAR format for stories works well and easy to remember: Situation, Task, Action, Results. We told everybody to “peel the onion” and listen for inconsistencies or points for a follow up question. Try to keep the answer short and leave out unnecessary background information (easy for me to say!). If the position is technical, prepare for domain knowledge questions as well, perhaps writing code or explaining on a whiteboard your approach to problem solving. Good luck!

  • Brandon W

    I work for Amazon and this article is a very good base of what you will encounter in a leadership role opportunity. It has helped me obtain two separate jobs. Use this tool during interview stage and while you work. It will only help you be more effective Amazonian! Good luck!

    Work Hard! Have Fun! Make History!

  • Manjeet Kaur

    I want to work with amazon I am very impressed with this company I love it ??

  • ys

    Thank you for such an informative post.

  • Razack

    Thanks you so much! Perfect!



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