Amazon Technical Interview: A Complete Guide

The purpose of this page is to provide a brief overview of the Amazon Technical Interview. Here you will find:

  • An explanation of the structure of the interview process.
  • The programming skills that you will need to succeed.
  • Tips for preparing for the different types of questions you will face.
  • Advice about replying to the behavioral questions in the interview.

What is the Amazon Technical Interview?

The Amazon Technical Interview is a special form of an interview that is given to candidates for technically-oriented positions at Amazon.

Unlike the behavioral interviews that are more common in Amazon hiring, the Amazon Technical Interview questions focus on technical skills and proficiency.

In addition to asking how the candidate has handled workplace problems in the past, the interviewer may also ask them to resolve coding problems using a virtual whiteboard or will require them to discuss a previous coding assignment.

You will probably have to go through the Amazon Technical Interview if you are a candidate for a tech position such as a Software Development Engineer, Development Manager, or Software Developer.

As you’d expect from a hi-tech-oriented company like Amazon, such positions are found through all branches of the company, whether dealing with online sales, warehouse technology, or cloud computing.

Competencies in Coding

There are three coding competencies you will be challenged with during your rounds of interviews:

Logic and maintainability

Software developers working in large teams need to be able to create code that other employees can access and understand to fix issues that may arise or make improvements.

Structures of Data and Algorithms

This competency is concerned with the developer’s understanding of data storage and retrieval systems.

Providing Solution

Software developers need to be able to rapidly and efficiently address issues with the code they’re developing or with the software they’ve worked on in the past.

Logical and Maintainable Problem Interview

The logical and maintainable problem interview assesses your ability to write code that is logically structured and maintainable – which means that others should be able to read, understand, and make changes to your code even when you are not present to help them out.

Logical and Maintainable Problem Tips for Prepartion

The code that you write may end up being used by the company for years after you depart, so it’s necessary for the code to be written in such a way that it can be maintained even without your further input. To ensure this competency, Amazon interviewers ask questions that require you to demonstrate skills related to object-oriented programming.

Beyond just being asked questions related to your past experience and your theoretical knowledge, you will typically be given several coding questions which you will be asked to solve on a virtual whiteboard.

Creatie Simple Code

While a lot of the questions that you might be asked during the Amazon Technical Interview are going to be available online, memorizing all the questions for the test is not the best approach. That is just not going to work – Amazon interviewers make an effort to ask questions that are at least somewhat original and unexpected, and while questions do get ‘recycled’. It is not possible to prepare for the test through rote memorization alone.

Instead, it is best to rehearse your skills in object-oriented programming(OOP) and have a good handle on basic code structures that are used so that you can apply them to a variety of new problems.

Crearte Maintainable Code

Of course, the code you write on the virtual whiteboard is not expected to reflect every detail that real working code will include, but it is intended to reflect the general way in which you do your work. To write code that is easier to maintain, you should be applying a range of simple principles. You should practice writing code that is as legible as possible and which is well organized.

Create Syntactically Correct Code

In your interview, you won’t be required to write code that is a hundred percent correct and accurate – this code is written on a whiteboard and does not run through a compiler or undergo testing. In some cases, it is even possible for you to omit certain sections of the code and just explain to the interviewer what they will do.

However, your code will need to be generally clear and concise, it needs to be well-structured, and your interviewer needs to be able to find their way in the code easily. Remember, this assignment is intended to reflect your ability to write code that other people can easily understand.

What Does a Good Code Response Look Like?

Good code response demonstrates the candidate’s skills in understanding general principles of programming, as well as his ability to write coherent and well-structured code and to explain that code clearly to the interviewer.

Data Structure Oriented Problem Interview

A core element of all of Amazon’s businesses is data analysis, storage, and retrieval. For this reason, candidates for technical positions are often asked questions about data structures.

These are both theoretical questions (such as ‘what is a linked list’ or ‘what makes linked lists more efficient than arrays’), as well as whiteboard questions asking you to implement different data structures, such as building a list or an array.

Ask the Interviewer Questions

When preparing to answer the question, it’s important to ensure that you understand it. Don’t be afraid to ask the interviewer questions, such as whether the code needs to be optimized for speed or cost savings, or perhaps memory efficiency. You must then demonstrate how the code achieves these optimization goals.

Correcting Flows

Being able to correct your flaws requires the ability to identify them and admit to them.

During the interview, you will be asked to demonstrate code problems and shortcomings using a whiteboard and use your knowledge and skills as a developer to propose solutions that will aid in solving them.

Explain the Implementation

During the interview, you will be asked to clearly explain your own code. You will need to be able to explain why you implemented certain solutions and not other ones and to do so clearly and confidently in a way that demonstrates your in-depth knowledge of both programming and the underlying design issues that you’re solving.

Tradeoffs Between Runtime and Space

Depending on the given task of your code, it’s necessary for you to consider if it needs to prioritize saving space on the company’s storage servers or to focus on the ability to rapidly retrieve the data.

This is a dilemma because when data is stored in a compressed format, it requires less space but is slower to retrieve because the data must be uncompressed before retrieval – and vice versa, uncompressed data retrieves faster but takes up more space.

What Does a Good Code Response Look Like?

A good response is one where the candidate not only demonstrates their knowledge of programming theory and coding, but also their knowledge of the underlying principles of good system design, and their ability to explain why they solved a question in a certain way, in the context of the code’s purpose.

Software Design Solution Interview

In addition to the Amazon coding interview questions, the Amazon Technical Interview includes a series of questions that evaluate your general ability to solve software design problems, both in terms of questions about problems you’ve resolved in your work experience and problems you might encounter in the future.

Provide Explanations

Just like in the other sections, you will be expected to clearly and confidently explain why you did things a certain way and not another. This doesn’t mean that you need to get defensive when facing criticism or questioning – if there is a flaw, it is sometimes better to clearly explain the mistake and the ways in which you intend to avoid repeating it in the future.

Ask Questions

Curiosity is a core Amazon value. When you’re asked how you would solve a potential problem, it’s often advisable to ask clarifying issues about the nature of the problem and the restrictions you’ll be laboring under.

Ask for Help

While Amazon developers are expected to be able to work independently, Amazon software development is a team effort at its core. Candidates need to demonstrate that they know when to ask for help and to admit problems when they have them, as well as to give proper credit to those team members who have assisted them.

Prepare Yourself for Other Technical Topics

While the Amazon Technical Interview focuses on the problems that are listed above, it’s best to demonstrate knowledge of a variety of technical topics. Principles of operating system functions, artificial intelligence and machine learning, Internet operations, and databases are among the topics that may come up.

Amazon Technical Interview Preparation Tips

Administrative Tips

Before the interview begins, you should test all the hardware and software that you need to use to participate in the interview.

You need to ensure your computer’s webcam and phone both work and that your computer can run Amazon Chime smoothly (Amazon Chime is required to take part in Amazon virtual interviews).

You should be neatly dressed, although a suit and tie are not required. Finally, the interview can be up to an hour long and has no breaks, so schedule accordingly!

Responding to Questions

You need to answer all questions in a polite and confident way wherever possible, as well as pay attention to the answer format that is required – some questions require a specific format of the answer, such as the STAR reply format, and you need to follow it.

Different Types of Interviewers

The Amazon interview process often involves multiple interviewers who form a ‘panel .’After the interview, the committee members will consult each other and vote on whether to hire you.

Each panel member is instructed to only vote to hire a candidate if he outperforms at least 50% of the candidates for the role (in other words, if they outperform the median candidate).

Hiring Manager

Hiring managers are typically Software Development Managers.

The Hiring manager you’ll meet during the interview will be your supervisor if you get hired, and his interest in the hiring stems from that fact.

He will often interview you separately (by phone or virtual interview) before the main technical interview section. This is also an opportunity to get a feeling as to what your future boss is like and ask questions that may be important for the next interview stage (such as: ‘What Leadership Principles are important for this role?’).

Bar Raisers

The Amazon Bar Raiser is a ‘neutral’ member of the interview committee. His job is to challenge you by asking more in-depth questions and encouraging you to dive deep into specific answers. He will focus particularly on asking follow-up questions on behavioral subjects.

Technical Experts

These are professionals that specialize in the technical subject that most closely relates to your job. They are there to challenge your technical abilities and knowledge.

Other Amazon Employees - Shadows

These are employees with experience in a role similar to the role you are applying for. They will be there to see if you are compatible with the position as they understand it from their first-hand experience.

What Should You Expect During an Interview?

During the coding interviews, you will be asked a variety of technical and leadership knowledge questions (typically a 60%-40% split). Interviewers will often ask you to talk about how you applied your development skills and the Amazon Leadership Principles previously or how you would apply them in a future situation.

Amazon Software Development Principles

Amazon requires that its developers be able to provide code that is simple, maintainable, well-organized, and works as intended. Your answer to the online coding test challenge should illustrate these principles as much as possible, and you should be able to explain how it meets these requirements.

Amazon 16 Leadership Principles

Every major company codifies its expected workplace ethic into some kind of written principles. At Amazon, these are the 16 Leadership Principles. Every Amazon employment test requires knowledge of these principles, and during the interview, you will be asked to show how you apply them in your day-to-day work. These are not mere proclamations – your interviewer will take them very seriously!

Characteristics of A Strong Amazon Leader

A lot of Leaders usually have strong judgment and good instincts. They seek diverse perspectives and work to disconfirm their beliefs.

Once a decision has been made, they commit wholeheartedly, and to deliver results, leaders focus on the key inputs for their business and execute them in a timely manner.

Dive Deep Leaders operate at all levels, pay attention to the details, conduct frequent audits, and are skeptical of anecdotal evidence.

Customer Obsession Leaders start with the customer and work backward. Their goal is to earn and keep the trust of their customers. Customers are more important than competitors to leaders, even though they are aware of them.

Leaders create a bold direction and communicate it clearly to inspire results. Rather than focusing on the obvious, they look for ways to serve customers in unconventional ways.

Simplify, leaders expect everyone to take the same customer-focused attitude while simultaneously valuing calculated risk-taking, frugality, and achieving more with fewer resources.

Use the STAR Method Technique

As mentioned previously, you will need to demonstrate understanding and application of Amazon Leadership Principles. To do this, you will be asked to discuss past challenges from your work experience.

You will need to discuss them using the STAR (Situation, Task, Action, Result) format. This means you need to describe a workplace Situation from your past, describe the task (the challenge you needed to address), and the action you took to address it.

You will then need to discuss the Result of your action, whether a positive or an unsuccessful result (being able to honestly and constructively discuss both successes and failures is a useful competency for the Amazon interview process).