Amazon Behavioral Interview Guide: 16 Real Questions & Answers

Updated on

January 25, 2024

Don't underestimate the Amazon Behavioral Interview – between the leadership principle questions, bar-raiser rounds, and high-stakes, this process can be just as tricky as the Amazon technical interviews too.

That's why in this blog, we'll cover Amazon's 16 leadership principles, 19 Amazon bar-raiser questions, and show you step-by-step how the STAR method can help you structure your answers.

Women Studying For Amazon Behavioral Interview

What is Amazon’s Ideal Candidate?

Amazon places a high value on specific traits and experiences that align with its company culture and operational philosophy. Candidates are assessed primarily on how they exemplify Amazon's 16 Leadership Principles through their previous experiences. These principles are not just platitudes but are central to how Amazonians make decisions and drive business forward.

Candidates are evaluated in behavioral interviews that pose questions designed to dig into past situations or challenges the applicant has faced and how they handled them. These behavioral interviews aim to gain clarity on the candidate's working style and cultural fit.

Amazon’s 16 Leadership Principles

Amazon's leadership is guided by a set of 16 Leadership Principles. These principles are at the core of every decision and are designed to build a culture of innovation and high standards.

Amazon 16 Leadership Principles

  1. Customer Obsession: They prioritize customer needs and work vigorously to earn and keep customer trust.
  2. Ownership: Leaders act on behalf of the entire company and have a long-term view.
  3. Invent and Simplify: They encourage creativity and expect leaders to seek ways to simplify processes.
  4. Are Right, A Lot: Leaders have strong judgment and good instincts.
  5. Learn and Be Curious: They have a thirst for knowledge and look for ways to nurture innovation.
  6. Hire and Develop the Best: Leaders raise the bar with each new hire and mentorship.
  7. Insist on the Highest Standards: They continuously focus on high-quality standards.
  8. Think Big: Thinking small is a self-fulfilling prophecy, so leaders are encouraged to think ambitiously.
  9. Bias for Action: Speed matters and many decisions are reversible.
  10. Frugality: They accomplish more with less; constraints breed resourcefulness.
  11. Earn Trust: Leaders listen attentively, speak candidly, and treat others with respect.
  12. Dive Deep: They operate at all levels and stay connected to the details.
  13. Have Backbone; Disagree and Commit: Leaders must respectfully challenge decisions and commit once a decision is made.
  14. Deliver Results: Leaders focus on the key inputs and deliver with the right quality and in a timely fashion.
  15. Strive to Be Earth’s Best Employer: Leaders ask themselves: Are my fellow employees growing? Are they empowered?
  16. Success and Scale Bring Broad Responsibility: Leaders create more than they consume and always leave things better than how they found them.

These Leadership Principles are not just inspirational slogans; they set the tone for the interviews and help assess whether candidates are aligned with Amazon's unique approach to leadership and management.

The principles offer insight into Amazon's organizational culture and expectations, thereby guiding both current employees and potential hires.

Amazon STAR method for Behavioral Interviews

When preparing for an Amazon Behavioral Interview, the candidate should focus on structuring their responses effectively. Utilizing the STAR method is highly recommended. This technique breaks down responses into four parts: Situation, Task, Action, and Result.

Man Working at Amazon

Components of the STAR Method

  • Situation: Candidates should start by describing the context within which they acted. This could involve a previous job, a volunteer experience, or any relevant event.
  • Task: The candidate details the actual challenge or problem they were facing.
  • Action: Here, candidates elaborate on the specific actions they took to address the task.
  • Result: Finally, candidates explain the outcomes of their actions, ideally showcasing success, learning experiences, or resolved issues.

Applying the STAR Method

Candidates should aim to succinctly but thoroughly set the scene and walk the interviewer through their thought processes and actions.

Sample Questions

  • Tell me about a time when you overcame a significant challenge.
  • Describe a situation where you had to collaborate with a difficult colleague.
  • Give an example of a goal you reached and tell me how you achieved it.
  • Recall a time when you improved a process or solved a complex problem.

In practice, the candidate would follow the STAR sequence to craft a coherent narrative for each question, illustrating their ability to self-assess, articulate, and reflect on past experiences constructively.

How to Prepare for the Amazon Behavioral Interview

Sample Preparation Tips:

  • Research: Understand Amazon’s culture and familiarize oneself with its Leadership Principles.
  • Reflect: Recall specific instances that showcase skills and problem-solving abilities.
  • Practice: Rehearse articulating experiences using the STAR method.
  • Feedback: Seek out peers or mentors to review responses and provide constructive criticism.
  • Examples: Prepare diverse examples that cover different aspects of your work history and skill set.

It is beneficial for interviewees to prepare a range of stories that can be adapted to various behavioral questions. They should also ensure that their examples provide a clear narrative that the interviewer can easily follow, tying back to how their actions have created positive outcomes.

By preparing responses that highlight your alignment with the Day 1 mentality and other leadership attributes, candidates can demonstrate their potential fit within Amazon's innovative and customer-obsessed culture.

About the Amazon Bar Raiser Interview

Amazon's Bar Raiser program is a unique and pivotal aspect of the company's hiring process. This program is designed to ensure that Amazon maintains a high standard of talent acquisition and that new hires not only meet the job requirements but also raise the bar for excellence within the organization.

Bar Raisers are experienced Amazon employees who are selected for their ability to assess candidates objectively and rigorously. They participate in interviews for positions that they are not directly hiring for, providing an impartial evaluation of candidates' skills, potential, and cultural fit.

Their input plays a crucial role in determining whether a candidate should be hired, helping Amazon maintain its commitment to hiring the best and brightest individuals who can contribute to the company's success.

How to Pass the Bar Raiser in Amazon’s Hiring Process

Passing the Bar Raiser interview in Amazon's hiring process requires careful preparation and a deep understanding of the company's culture and leadership principles. To succeed, candidates should thoroughly research Amazon's values and leadership principles, as the interview often focuses on assessing how well they align with these principles.

Man Studying for Amazon Behavioral Interview

Additionally, it's essential to showcase one's unique skills, experiences, and problem-solving abilities while demonstrating a customer-centric mindset.

Bar Raisers are looking for candidates who not only meet the job requirements but also embody Amazon's high standards and commitment to excellence.

Amazon Behavioral Interview + Bar Raiser Questions

When preparing for an Amazon behavioral interview, candidates should expect to navigate through a series of questions designed to assess their alignment with Amazon's Leadership Principles. These principles are the cornerstone of Amazon's corporate culture, and interview responses should reflect them.

Below is a table summarizing examples of sample questions that a candidate might encounter.

Leadership PrincipleSample Questions
Customer ObsessionDescribe a time when you went above and beyond to ensure a customer was satisfied with your service.
OwnershipDescribe a project where you took full ownership from start to finish. What were the results?
Invent and SimplifyTell me about a time when you came up with a creative solution to a complex problem. How did it simplify the situation?
Are Right, A LotGive me an example of a situation where you made a difficult decision that turned out to be correct. How did you reach that decision?
Learn and Be CuriousHow do you stay up-to-date with industry trends and continuously learn in your field?
Hire and Develop the BestCan you share an experience where you identified and developed talent within your team?
Insist on the Highest StandardsTell me about a project where you set and maintained high standards for quality and excellence.
Think BigDescribe a situation where you set ambitious goals and achieved them. What was your thought process?
Bias for ActionGive me an example of a time when you took action without waiting for direction. What was the outcome?
FrugalityHow have you demonstrated cost-consciousness in your previous roles?
Earn TrustShare an instance where you had to rebuild trust with a colleague or client. How did you go about it?
Dive DeepTell me about a time when you delved deeply into a problem to uncover insights. What did you discover?
Have Backbone; Disagree and CommitCan you share a situation where you disagreed with your team, and how did you handle it to ensure alignment and commitment?
Deliver ResultsDescribe a challenging project where you had to meet tight deadlines. How did you ensure the successful delivery of results?
Strive to be Earth’s Best EmployerHow do you prioritize employee well-being and satisfaction in your leadership approach?
Success and Scale Bring Broad ResponsibilityShare an experience where you had to balance the success of your team with broader social or environmental responsibilities. How did you manage this?

These questions are just a representative sample and are not exhaustive. Be prepared to address a variety of questions that explore different aspects of their professional experiences and personal attributes.

You can also watch my mock Amazon behavioral interview video for help with the behavioral aspect!

What Else Amazon Interviews Cover

BTW, Amazon goes HARD on technical interviews – it's not just behavioral interviews that are a must to prepare. Check out these interactive Amazon SQL & Python interview questions:

Amazon Two Sum Python Question

You can practice more Amazon SQL interview questions here.

I'm a bit biased, but I also recommend the book Ace the Data Science Interview because it has multiple Amazon technical Interview questions with solutions in it.