Amazon Writing Exercise: What to Expect & How to Do Well

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SEE ALSO: How to Ace the Amazon Leadership Principles Interview

By EllaA

Have an Amazon interview? Worried about the Amazon writing exercise? 📝

Have no fear. 👍

I'll answer all your top questions about the Amazon writing sample you are expected to write including:

  • Example Amazon writing assignment prompts from past candidates
  • Tips and tricks on how to score well
  • Examples of what has worked well for others

My team's research and analysis comes straight from candidates who have been through the process themselves and succeeded.

Amazon Writing Exercise: Frequently Asked Questions

What is it?

The Amazon writing exercise consists of two written interview questions that Amazon candidates are asked to respond to before their on-site interviews.

How many questions are there?

Candidates are given two options and instructed to pick one question to answer.

When is it due?

Candidates are required to submit their answers over e-mail 1 to 2 days before their on-site interviews.

What are the length requirements?

Your response must be no longer than 4 pages and typical responses are about 2 pages. Anything longer than two pages might bore the reviewer, especially given their busy schedules.

Why is it important?

Written communication is a central part of Amazon’s company culture. Writing is part of every Amazon employee’s job description in at least some capacity. This is why they include a writing sample in their interview process and take candidate responses seriously.

How will your writing be evaluated?

Amazon will evaluate your writing response on two criteria:

  1. Clarity of thought and expression. Be sure to explain your point well.
  2. Organization and structure. Make sure that your writing flows logically and makes sense.

What are the guidelines?

  1. Clearly indicate the question you have selected at the top of your response.
  2. Respond in narrative form and limit the use of bullets or outlines.
  3. Type your response in rich text format (i.e., MS Word).
  4. Do not include any confidential or proprietary information in your response.

Amazon Writing Exercise: Example Prompts

Example #1: Amazon Writing Exercise

What is the most inventive or innovative thing you’ve done? It doesn’t have to be something that’s patented. It could be a process change, product idea, a new metric or customer facing interface – something that was your idea. It cannot be anything your current or previous employer would deem confidential information. Please provide us with context to understand the invention/innovation. What problem were you seeking to solve? Why was it important? What was the result? Why or how did it make a difference and change things?

Example #2: Amazon Writing Exercise

Most decisions are made with analysis, but some are judgment calls not susceptible to analysis due to time or information constraints. Please write about a judgment call you’ve made recently that couldn’t be analyzed. It can be a big or small one, but should focus on a business issue. What was the situation, the alternatives you considered and evaluated, and your decision making process? Be sure to explain why you chose the alternative you did relative to others considered.

Amazon Writing Exercise: Tips to Help You Score Well

  • When choosing your example, try to pick something as recent as possible. The more modern and applicable your answer is to the current tech environment, the better.
  • Be specific. Include all relevant dates, names, titles and elements involved in your example. Answers with more information are perceived as more truthful and paint a better picture of what it is that you accomplished.
  • Clearly answer each part of the question. As you can see in from the above examples, the writing questions are complex and multi-faceted. One of the worst mistakes that you can make is to ignore part of the prompt.
  • Context is important. These question will always, in some form or another, ask you about a time in your career when you were faced with a problem and how you responded to and successfully fixed that problem. Although showing off your accomplishments is obviously important, so is describing the problems that you faced. Your explanation of the problem should be given just as much space as your explanation of the solution.
  • Don’t be afraid to discuss adversity. In real life, unanimous agreement about solving hard problems is practically unheard-of in the workplace. An example that includes disagreement, controversy and how you were able to overcome it is more believable and applicable to a real company than an example where everything goes smoothly and everyone agrees.

SEE ALSO: How to Ace the Amazon Leadership Principles Interview

Photo credit: Zhao!

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