Amazon Interview questions

The Most Common Amazon Interview Questions (with Answers)

The most effective way to prepare for an Amazon interview is to practice real Amazon interview questions. Wouldn’t it be nice to have a cheatsheet for your Amazon interview, so you know the answer to questions before they’re asked? Luckily, this cheat sheet exists–Amazon published it themselves. Amazon outlines common interview questions, the highly specific values they’re looking for, and the interview process on their own site. Amazon employees and candidates have shared real Amazon interview questions and the Amazon interview process all over the internet on sites like Glassdoor and LeetCode. But how do you know which questions will actually be asked? We’ve compiled the most common Amazon interview questions and answers so you can go into your interview with confidence.  

How Not to Answer Amazon Interview Questions

One of the worst mistakes candidates make is just casually scanning Amazon interview questions online before their interview. They study questions carefully, but don’t prepare answers–they plan to “wing” their answers. But Amazon interviewers certainly don’t have such a casual attitude. They’ll carefully note your responses and meticulously review what you shared.

While you shouldn’t memorize interview responses word-for-word, you should have a pitch prepared along with common interview responses. As a previous Software Engineer at Amazon and a mentor at Pathrise, Krish Chowdhary emphasizes coming to behavioral interviews prepared with examples from your previous experience. “Preparing rough answers beforehand will help you communicate confidently.” Amazon excess like Krish landed jobs by excelling in Amazon interview questions, demonstrating their soft skills, technical skills, and cultural alignment with Amazon’s leadership principles.

If you’re preparing for an Amazon interview, don’t just read the questions in this article. Actually write your own response (or modify our example answers), then practice the answers aloud with a friend or in the mirror. You will absolutely be asked some of the Amazon interview questions in this guide.

Which Amazon Leadership Principles Matter Most in Amazon Interviews?

Amazon puts an extreme emphasis on displaying their company values that they call “Leadership Principles”. Amazon’s commitment to cultural fit in hiring might be more extreme than any other tech company. You won’t even be able to get an interview at Amazon until you pass an online assessment of your alignment with their Leadership Principles. At interviews, Amazon scores candidates based on how they align with leadership principles. Amazon even bases almost all behavioral interview questions on their leadership principles. 

While Amazon is looking for candidates who display all 14 leadership principles, Amazon focuses on 5 especially critical principles:

Amazon Leadership principles

Amazon will put extra emphasis on these five principles, especially for recent grads seeking more junior positions. While candidates for junior roles can still win points for demonstrating other leadership principles, Amazon will primarily focus on these five principles, especially at the early stages of the hiring process. 

Common Amazon Interview Questions from their Own Website

To help candidates prepare, Amazon lists interview questions on their own site. Amazon wants candidates to arrive prepared and communicate their experiences as effectively as possible. After all, hiring managers want to hire the best candidate possible–not the candidate who just happens to excel at interviews. To level the playing field, Amazon shares common questions to prepare.

  • Before you get into the details of our interview process, take some time to learn about Amazon. Get to know our business teams and meet a few Amazonians.
  • Review the Amazon Leadership Principles
  • Interviews are rooted in behavioral-based questions. We’ll ask about past situations or challenges you’ve faced, using our [leadership] principles to guide our discussion. We avoid brain teasers.
  • Use the STAR method.

Amazon Interview Tips 

  • Practice using the STAR method. Frame your examples in relation to the Leadership Principles.
  • Ensure each answer has a beginning, middle, and end. Describe the situation or problem, the actions you took, and the outcome.
  • Prepare short descriptions of a handful of situations. Be ready to answer follow-up questions in greater detail. Select examples that highlight your unique skills.
  • Have examples that showcase your experience and how you’ve taken risks, succeeded, failed, and grown.
  • Specifics are key. Avoid generalizations. Give a detailed account of one situation for each question you answer. Use data or metrics to support your example.
  • Be forthcoming. Don’t embellish or omit parts of the story.
  • Be prepared to explain what interests you about the role and the team (or teams) you’ll be meeting with.
  • Be concise but detailed in your answers. We know it’s hard to gauge how much info is too much versus not enough. A good test is to pause after your answer to ask if you’ve given enough detail or if the interviewer would like you to go into more depth.
  • If you’re asked a question but aren’t given enough info to provide a solid answer, don’t be shy about asking for clarification. If additional context isn’t available, focus on how you’d attempt to solve the problem based on limited information.
  • We try to leave a few minutes at the end of each interview to answer your questions. If we don’t get to all of them, don’t hesitate to ask your point of contact.

What Amazon Wants You to Know

Unlike many other tech companies that tend to be private or even sneaky when sharing interview information, everything on Amazon’s website is straightforward and designed to help you succeed. That doesn’t mean the Amazon hiring process is straightforward. You’ll have to take an online assessment, likely both behavioral and technical, before you’ll even be considered for an interview. But their own interview guides don’t leave anything out and should be referenced when preparing.

Amazon teams are often small. Some employees describe Amazon as feeling like a collection of small startups. This means the interview style can vary from team to team. However, it also means that each team is busy and may not have the time to carefully craft interview questions. Behavioral interviews will emphasize leadership principles no matter the team. No matter the team, practicing proper interview etiquette will make you an appealing candidate.

As stated on their own website, most Amazon interview questions are based on hypothetical situations or your past experience. Understanding these questions and the STAR interview technique (situation, task, action, result) will be the most critical step to succeeding in any interview. But since these questions are so common, we won’t analyze them in-depth here. Check out our full guides on answering “tell me about yourself” questions and “what areas do you need to develop further” questions–these simple questions come up in almost every interview. Instead, we want to focus on technical and behavioral interview questions specific to Amazon.

Behavioral Amazon Interview Questions

Amazon puts an extremely strong emphasis on candidates displaying their 14 leadership principles–almost all behavioral interview questions are based on their leadership principles. While all leadership principles matter, these top five matter most: 1) Are Right A Lot, 2) Bias for action, 3) Deliver results, 4) Earn trust, 5) Learn and be curious.

Amazon’s top 3 questions are behavioral interview questions designed to assess how you think and relate to Amazon’s leadership principles, typically focusing on their top five principles. While these questions don’t necessarily require you to know anything about Amazon, they’re scoring you against the leadership principles. Meaning knowing Amazon’s leadership principles and at least some key information about the company will help you stand out.

1. What does earning trust to you mean to you, and how do you demonstrate a commitment to earning the trust of customers and clients?

This is your chance to thoughtfully show your alignment with Amazon’s leadership principles while also sharing your skills and potential impact to the team. You can take the question in many directions. While both these approaches are effective, they can be combined:

Our answer:

“To me, earning trust means delivering results consistently, communicating clearly, and putting customers first. As a product intern at Spotify, I helped collect customer feedback on our recommendation algorithms. Some were disappointed with how our algorithm relied heavily on previously played songs, rather than recommending new titles. Based on this feedback, I worked with the produty, UX, and data team to push discover mixes higher on user’s feeds. This increased satisfaction and discover playtime by about 15%. I was impressed that my Spotify team quickly made the change, putting customers first. However, earning trust also means making these sorts of improvements consistently, with minimal error. How can users trust you if you only focus on them some of the time? Or miscommunicate? So minimizing error plays a role, too. But I think frequent interaction, such as drip campaigns or weekly check-ins, can help build familiarity and trust as well.

I think Amazon’s emphasis on customer obsession and being right a lot has helped them earn the trust of millions of users. It also makes Amazon the perfect place to apply my experience prioritizing the end-user to make an impact.”

2. Why Amazon?

This is your chance to demonstrate alignment with Amazon’s leadership principles–while also showing you’ve done your research on Amazon as a company and the specific team you’ll be joining. Of course, you don’t need to memorize a canned response. But you should still prepare a thoughtful answer that’s connected to Amazon’s leadership principles and mission, especially the mission of your prospective team.

Based on our data, the most effective way to answer is to explain why you’re a good candidate and how you connect to the company mission, values, products, and goals. Check out our full guide to answering “Why do you want to work here” questions because they’ll come up in almost every interview. However, your answer should depend on the company.

Our answer: 

“That’s a great question. I want to work at Amazon because I feel that our goals align. I have always been passionate about products that help the little guy at scale, just like how Amazon’s mission is to be Earth’s most customer-centric company.

In my past role as a product manager at Etsy, I worked to build streamlined back-end functionality for creators to easily upload their products, interact with customers, and sell their creations more easily. Based on user feedback on both ends, I made intuitive updates to the creator upload process so they could better serve customers. These updates helped increase creator NPS by 60% and led to a 45% increase in creator retention.

With my experience working with Etsy creators and my perspective as a frequent small business shopper, I know I can provide valuable input to the team so that Amazon can continue to offer the best products that best serve their customers. In addition, I know that as a company Amazon values speed and curiosity, which are extremely important to me in my future role. I am looking to join a mission-driven technology company with first principles with a focus on tech that’s tailored to the end-user.

3. Tell me about a time you took a calculated risk when speed was critical. 

This is another open-ended question giving you a chance to display key leadership principles. While the word “risk” and “speed” means the question is obviously assessing Amazon’s principle of “Bias for action: Speed matters in business”, you don’t have to limit yourself to just one leadership principle. We recommend sharing a situation from a previous work experience that demonstrates your bias for action, while touching on your commitment to Amazon’s mission and your proven impact.

Our answer:

 “As a web dev intern at Roblox, I had to take a calculated risk when my manager while our login system began to malfunction. I had been focused on revising our forums, with a tight deadline. I had to choose between focusing on the logins and potentially missing the forum update deadline, or staying focused on the forums while logins stalled. My manager was not contactable and both deadlines were right, so I had to make the choice myself.

I chose to focus on debugging and keeping the sign ups working, since the customer came first. While a delay to the forum patch could be problematic, the timeline could always be adjusted But a delay in logins could seriously damage Roblox’s reputation and potentially hurt traffic. After 5 hours of work, I was able to get the login system functioning again. This proved to be the right decision. When my manager returned, she thanked me for my quick thinking, and added another web developer from another team to help me with the tight forum deadline. With her help, we delivered the forum patch on time anyway.”

Use the STAR method to answer these other common Amazon interview questions:

  1. Tell me about a time you went above and beyond for a customer.
  2. Tell me about a time you solved a problem for a customer. 
  3. Tell me about how you understand your customer to best meet their needs. 
  4. Tell me about a time when you experienced a major failure.
  5. Tell me about a time when you had to make a hard choice. 
  6. Tell me about a time when you had to think long-term. 
  7. Tell me about a time when you had to leave a task unfinished. 
  8. Tell me about a time when you invented something. 
  9. Tell me about a time when you gave a simple solution to a complex problem. 
  10. Tell me about a time when you had to work with incomplete data or information. 
  11. Tell me about a time when you solved a problem through just superior knowledge or observation. 
  12. Tell me about something you’re learning now.
  13. Tell me about a time when there was a dispute on your team.
  14. Tell me about feedback you’ve received recently and how it affected you. 
  15. Give me two examples of when you did more than what was required in any job experience. 
  16. Tell me about a time when you had to decide between many different choices.
  17. Tell me about a time when you took a calculated risk. 
  18. Tell me about a time when you had to work with limited time or resources. 
  19. Tell me about how you build trust within a new team. 
  20. Tell me about a time you faced conflict. 
  21. Tell me about how data informs your decisions. 
  22. Tell me about a time when you influenced a change by only asking questions. 
  23. Tell me about an unpopular decision of yours. 
  24. Tell me about a time you were behind on a hard deadline. 
  25. Tell me about your proudest professional achievement.

star method

Technical Amazon Interview Questions

Amazon offers technical interview guides and prep courses on their own website. While you can find guides for a variety of technical interview types, most focus on software engineering. According to their software engineering technical interview prep guide, questions fall into two categories: system design and coding.

You can review these questions and answers on Amazon’s own website.

In technical interviews at Amazon, coding questions usually come directly from Leetcode. This is probably because each team at Amazon has so much independence. Teams are busy and may not have time to craft unique coding interview questions.

Leetcode Specific Interview Questions

Leetcode premium allows you to see a full list of most common interview questions. Reddit users on Leetcode have also curated lists of some of the most common challenges in Amazon interview questions based on questions tagged as being real interview questions from Amazon. We highly recommend using Leetcode and the aforementioned list like this to practice for technical interview questions at Amazon. Some of the most common LeetCode style questions in Amazon interview questions today include:

  1. You are given a string s. We want to partition the string into as many parts as possible so that each letter appears in at most one part. Return a list of integers representing the size of these parts.
  2. You are given a string s. Partition the string into as many parts as possible so that each letter appears in at most one part. Return a list of integers representing the size of these parts.
  3. Design a data structure that follows the constraints of a Least Recently Used (LRU) cache.
  4. You are given a list of songs where the ith song has a duration of time[i] seconds.
  5. Return the number of pairs of songs for which their total duration in seconds is divisible by 60. 
  6. You are given the heads of two sorted linked lists list1 and list2. Merge the two lists into one sorted list.
  7. Given an array of strings “words” and an integer “k”, return the k most frequent strings. Return the answer sorted by the frequency from highest to lowest. Sort the words with the same frequency by their lexicographical order.
  8. Given a string s, return the longest palindromic substring in s.
  9. Given n non-negative integers representing an elevation map where the width of each bar is 1, compute how much water it can trap after raining.
  10. Given a string s, find the length of the longest substring without repeating characters.
  11. Add 2 numbers.
  12. Find the median of two sorted arrays.

Technical Amazon Interview Questions for Software Engineers

Beside the questions in Amazon’s prep course and Leetcode style questions, here are some of the most common Amazon interview questions asked in software engineering interviews.

  1. Given an array of integer numbers and an integer target, return indices of the two numbers such that they add up to target.
  2. You are given two non-empty linked lists representing two non-negative integers. The digits are stored in reverse order, and each of their nodes contains a single digit. Add the two numbers and return the sum as a linked list.
  3. Given a string s, find the length of the longest substring without repeating characters.
  4. Given two sorted arrays nums1 and nums2 of size m and n respectively, return the median of the two sorted arrays.
  5. Given a string s, return the longest palindromic substring in s.
  6. The string “”PAYPALISHIRING”” is written in a zigzag pattern on a given number of rows and then read line by line: “”PAHNAPLSIIGYIR””. Write the code that will take a string and make this conversion given a number of rows.
  7. Given a signed 32-bit integer x, return x with its digits reversed. If reversing x causes the value to go outside the signed 32-bit integer range [-231, 231 – 1], then return 0.
  8. Given an integer x, return true if x is a palindrome, and false otherwise.
  9. Given an input string s and a pattern p, implement regular expression matching with support for “.” and “*”.
  10. You are given an integer array height of length n. There are n vertical lines drawn such that the two endpoints of the ith line are (i, 0) and (i, height[i]). Find two lines that together with the x-axis form a container, such that the container contains the most water.
  11. Write a function to find the longest common prefix string amongst an array of strings.
  12. Given an integer array nums of length n and an integer target, find three integers in numbers such that the sum is closest to the target. Return the sum of the three integers.
  13. Given a string containing digits from 2-9 inclusive, return all possible letter combinations that the number could represent. Return the answer in any order. A mapping of digits to letters is given in a photo below of a standard telephone dial.
  14. Given the head of a linked list, remove the nth node from the end of the list and return its head.
  15. Determine if a binary tree is a binary search tree.

Amazon Interview Questions for Data Scientists?

Data Scientist candidates can also expect Leetcode style Amazon interview questions, which can be found here or on LeetCode. Beside Leetcode style questions, here are some other common Amazon interview questions for data scientists:

  1. How does a logistic regression model know what the coefficients are?
  2. Difference between convex and non-convex cost function; what does it mean when a cost function is non-convex?
  3. Is random weight assignment better than assigning same weights to the units in the hidden layer?
  4. Write a SQL code to explain month to month user retention rate.
  5. Describe different JOINs in SQL.
  6. What is the most advanced query you’ve ever written?
  7. Given a table with three columns, (id, category, value) and each id has 3 or less categories (price, size, color); how can you find those id”s for which the value of two or more categories matches one another?
  8. Given a bar plot and imagine you are pouring water from the top, how to qualify how much water can be kept in the bar chart?
  9. What is Overfitting?
  10. Why is gradient checking important?
  11. Describe Tree, SVM, Random forest and boosting. Talk about their advantages and disadvantages.
  12. How do you weigh 9 marbles three times on a balance scale to select the heaviest one?
  13. Describe the criterion for a particular model selection. Why is dimension reduction important?
  14. What are the assumptions for logistic and linear regression?
  15. If you can build a perfect (100% accuracy) classification model to predict some customer behavior, what will be the problem in application?
  16. The probability that an item at location A is 0.6 , and 0.8 at location B. What is the probability that an item would be found on the Amazon website?
  17. Given a ‘csv’ file with ID and Quantity columns, 50 million records and size of data as 2 GBs, write a program in any language of your choice to aggregate the QUANTITY column.
  18. Implement a circular queue using an array.
  19. Compare Lasso and Ridge Regression.
  20. What’s the difference between MLE and MAP inference?
  21. Given a function with inputs — an array with N randomly sorted numbers, and an int K, return output in an array with the K largest numbers.
  22. When users are navigating through the Amazon website, they are performing several actions. What is the best way to model if their next action would be a purchase?
  23. Estimate the disease probability in one city given the probability is very low nationwide. Randomly asked 1000 people in this city, with all negative responses(NO disease). What is the probability of disease in this city?
  24. Describe SVM.
  25. How does K-means work? What kind of distance metric would you choose? What if different features have different dynamic ranges?
  26. What is boosting?
  27. How many topic modeling techniques do you know of?

Amazon Interview Questions for Design

While Amazon offers a guide to UX design interviews and will usually require some whiteboarding, design interviews tend to be far less technical than other roles. Amazon interview questions for designers will usually be more behavioral or based on your portfolio. However, these semi-technical questions have come up in past Amazon interviews.

  1. How would you redesign Amazon?
  2. Design a URL shortening service.
  3. Design a global file storage service or sharing service.
  4. Design an API rate limiter.
  5. Design an autocomplete feature found on search engines like Google.
  6. How would you design a parking lot?
  7. How would you design a web cache?
  8. How would you design an API?
  9. Design an online shopping and return experience.
  10. Design a proximity server.
  11. What were the key metrics for your design, and how did you measure them?
  12. How would you design autocomplete for a search engine?
  13. How would you design an elevator for a 1000 floor building?
  14. How would design an online presence of a brick and mortar coffee shop?
  15. Would you design a charging station in a mall?

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Patrick Bohan

Hi, I'm Patrick, I write about the job search. After graduating from Cornell, I became a content lead at UBS where I helped professionals at Fortune 500 companies understand their stock options, salary, and benefits. When I'm not writing about the hiring process, I write novels for teens.

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