Amazon PM Interview Guide
Expect the hiring process to last, on average, four to six weeks. Our experts can assist you in preparing for your Amazon interview in time for the interview.
- Apply: When applying for the position, make sure your resume is tailored specifically for Amazon. Don't worry! My PM Fit is here to help with our resume review and writing services. Reach out to your network for an Amazon employee referral.
- Recruiter call: An Amazon recruiter will contact you to determine whether you are ready for an interview. If you're not ready, don't hesitate to ask for more time!
- Phone screen: This phone screen may actually occur via Amazon Chime instead of the telephone. Either way, this will be your opportunity to chat with the hiring manager or someone from that team. Be prepared for questions about your experience, as well as questions that test your ability to apply Amazon's leadership principles.
- Take-home assignment (optional): You may be asked to complete a take-home assignment that is typically one or two pages long. The prompt may be about your own experience or about a case study. Be sure to highlight leadership principles if asked to describe your own experience.
- On-site interviews: For the on-site or virtual on-site interview at Amazon, you'll be asked to attend four to six interviews in a single day. You will be asked to demonstrate how you've applied Amazon's leadership principles in the past. You'll meet with the hiring manager, other PMs on the team, other stakeholders, and the bar raiser.
- Review stage: The interviewers meet to discuss your performance and decide on a hire or no-hire decision. Typically, you will receive the decision within 48 hours.
- Offer and negotiation phases: If Amazon wants to hire you, an offer will be made! Congratulations on landing an offer! Don't leave money on the table, though. You can count on My PM Fit to assist you in negotiating a better compensation package.
Amazon's Leadership Principles
Our experts can help you put Amazon's leadership principles (LPs) into practice during the behavioral interviews. Continue reading to learn more about Amazon's LPs and how you can master them to land your PM career fit at Amazon.
Amazon's non-technical product manager positions are excellent for those with a strong grasp of business and design. Since the role is not technical, a computer science background is not necessary. In fact, Amazon prefers to hire PM candidates with an MBA. While anyone can work for Amazon's e-commerce division, AWS favors applicants with technical backgrounds. Having said that, a lot of non-technical professionals have succeeded in making the switch to product management at various Amazon orgs. Amazon considers having a technical background an asset, but the product manager role is open to those from all backgrounds. At Amazon, many product managers are successful without having technical expertise.
Our experts successfully landed multiple offers from AWS and other Amazon orgs. While working at Amazon, we interviewed many early-career and senior PMs, and the one quality that separates the hires from the rejects is their mastery of Amazon's LPs. Sadly, this is where many candidates fall short—they are unable to fully understand and put Amazon's leadership principles into practice. So, we created this guide to help you nail the Amazon behavioral interview and master the LPs.
Behavioral interviews gauge how well you embody Amazon's leadership principles. Amazon believes that if you have demonstrated these LPs in previous positions, you will continue to do so in your future employment at Amazon. This holds true for every potential new hire at Amazon, regardless of years of experience.
Amazon has established a solid reputation for being a leader in the tech industry, delivering products quickly, engaging in fierce competition, and consistently innovating. Amazon trusts its employees to adhere to their leadership principles in order to guarantee that all teams advance in the right direction. In fact, once you join Amazon, you'll quickly learn that your performance is also measured against the LPs. There are very few aspects of working at Amazon that are universally true. The only thing that holds true across the board is that Amazonians act in accordance with the LPs. Amazon trusts that hiring people who uphold the LP's will ultimately result in long-term success. Therefore, it's crucial that you master the leadership principles and demonstrate how you will continue to raise the bar at Amazon.
In fact, each of your interviewers are assigned a specific set of leadership principles to test you on. Think of the leadership principles as your evaluation criteria or rubric. The key to success is simple, but requires practice. To ace your Amazon PM interview, follow these four crucial steps:
- Determine which LP(s) are being tested by thinking about the question that was asked of you.
- Take a moment to prepare a thoughtful STAR format response that emphasizes the target LPs.
- Showcase your executive presence as you respond in a clear and concise manner, mentioning additional LPs along the way.
- Be prepared for unexpected questions and follow-ups from your interviewer. Keep your composure and avoid acting agitated.
While this may sound daunting at first, don't fret! My PM Fit is here to help you navigate the interview process and prepare for your upcoming Amazon PM interview. Our coaches are happy to help you master this process. Book an expert interview prep session here
Know the LPs inside and out. Make sure you are prepared with at least two examples of how you have demonstrated each leadership principle. Make sure that none of your actions ever go against any other leadership principles. A helpful framework is STAR, which stands for situation, task, action, and result. In this framework, you would first give some background information regarding the situation you encountered. Describe the tasks you chose to complete next. Next, describe the actions you took, and finally the outcomes of your actions.
Leaders start with the customer and work backwards. They work vigorously to earn and keep customer trust. Although leaders pay attention to competitors, they obsess over customers.
Questions testing customer obsession are frequently asked during PM interviews at Amazon. Be prepared for questions that will gauge how much you value and care about the customer. Amazon intentionally decided to make choices that decreased profit because it was the right thing to do for customers. Amazon has succeeded by doing right by its customers, and their customer obsession fuels it. Be sure to demonstrate your customer obsession when responding to questions that test this. When responding to these customer obsession centered questions, be sure to describe the needs, wants, and pain points of your customers as well as how you were able to add value and solve your customers' problems.
- Tell me about a time when you turned down a request from a customer.
- Tell me about a time when a customer gave you critical feedback.
Leaders are owners. They think long term and don't sacrifice long-term value for short-term results. They act on behalf of the entire company, beyond just their own team. They never say “that's not my job”.
This leadership principle is fundamental to how Amazon runs its business. You can bet that you'll be questioned to see if you demonstrate the behavior and mindset of an owner. PMs at Amazon are expected to act as the CEOs of their products. This implies that PMs are ultimately responsible for all decisions relating to the product. PMs own up to mistakes and admit their failures when something goes wrong. They are not constrained by their title or rank. Owners always think strategically about the future by consistently prioritizing long-term value over immediate results.
- Tell me about a time when you worked on a project outside of your scope.
- Give an example of when you saw a peer struggling and decided to step in and help. What was the situation and what actions did you take? What was the outcome?
Invent and Simplify
Leaders expect and require innovation and invention from their teams and always find ways to simplify. They are externally aware, look for new ideas from everywhere, and are not limited by “not invented here”. As we do new things, we accept that we may be misunderstood for long periods of time.
Innovation is at the heart of Amazon. This LP combines simplicity and innovation because simplicity enables innovation to occur more quickly and affordably. Every day, Amazon does things that have never been done before. In order to keep innovating at this pace, they need PMs who are capable of thinking outside the box by designing simple, creative solutions to big problems. To demonstrate this LP, you don't have to be a first author on a patent. In fact, you could describe how you streamlined a process or made something simpler for customers or teammates. Be sure to outline your approach to a challenging problem and the steps you took to develop an MVP.
- Tell me about a time when you gave a simple solution to a complex problem.
- What is the most innovative project you've worked on?
Are Right, A Lot
Leaders are right a lot. They have strong judgment and good instincts. They seek diverse perspectives and work to disconfirm their beliefs.
The misconception that one can never admit to making a mistake is one that PM candidates frequently fall victim to. But don't let this one fool you. Instead of focusing on always being right, this leadership principle emphasizes developing intuition so that you can be as accurate as possible when making decisions. It also involves making quick adjustments in response to data that emerges after you've launched. It enables teams to quickly become comfortable making difficult decisions, such as when to proceed without thoroughly examining every aspect or when to freely escalate to leadership when a more cautious and thorough approach is necessary. Amazon's leaders must understand the importance of valuing each viewpoint and opinion. When someone disagrees with you, it's beneficial because it forces you to reevaluate your position. You might be asked to explain the rationale behind your decision or stance. Be sure to outline the factors that led to your decision, the viewpoints of other stakeholders, especially those who disagree with you, and then the results of your decision and subsequent actions.
- Tell me about a time when you didn't have enough data to make the right decision. What did you do? What path did you take? Did the decision turn out to be the correct one?
- Tell me about a strategic decision you had to make without clear data or benchmarks. How did you make your final decision? What alternatives did you consider? What were the tradeoffs of each? How did you mitigate risk?
Learn and Be Curious
Leaders are never done learning and always seek to improve themselves. They are curious about new possibilities and act to explore them.
Amazon's success over the years can be partially explained by its employees' ability to learn, adapt, and grow its capacity to meet customer needs. Yesterday's solutions won't be effective today. More will be demanded from customers, the design will change, and the code will require updating. Since everything changes, so must we. Amazon puts a great deal of emphasis on being willing to learn new things, come up with new ideas, break down old barriers, and be interested and inquisitive. Curiosity leads to creativity, which leads to innovation. Amazon is interested in understanding how you generate these ideas, whether it involves following current events or combining various fields of study.
- How do you find the time to learn new things, stay inspired, and innovate at work?
- Tell me about a time when you accepted a project that was outside your comfort zone.
Hire and Develop the Best
Leaders raise the performance bar with every hire and promotion. They recognize exceptional talent, and willingly move them throughout the organization. Leaders develop leaders and take seriously their role in coaching others. We work on behalf of our people to invent mechanisms for development like Career Choice.
This leadership principle is not often tested during PM interviews, unless you're applying for leadership or manager-type roles. In order to demonstrate this LP, be sure to share examples of times when you identified high-growth potential employees and how you assisted them in their career growth. You may be asked questions about how you recognize exceptional talent and how you nurture talent.
- How do you recognize strong performers?
- What different approaches do you use to manage your top performers?
- Who was your best hire and why?
Insist on the Highest Standards
Leaders have relentlessly high standards — many people may think these standards are unreasonably high. Leaders are continually raising the bar and driving their teams to deliver high quality products, services and processes. Leaders ensure that defects do not get sent down the line and that problems are fixed so they stay fixed.
The ownership leadership principle is closely related to this one. If you're the owner, do you want things to be of poor quality? Of course not. In a similar vein, Amazon expects that its PMs take pride in their products and set high expectations and standards. Since there is always room for improvement, you should never settle for the status quo. Take a look at the businesses and industries that stopped innovating. Even when others are satisfied, Amazon demands that its employees maintain the highest standards and continue innovating.
- How have you pushed the envelope to raise the standard of your products?
- Tell me about a time when you were unsatisfied with the status quo.
Thinking small is a self-fulfilling prophecy. Leaders create and communicate a bold direction that inspires results. They think differently and look around corners for ways to serve customers.
When you are asked for a solution or idea during your interview, be careful not to share the first idea that enters your head. Always assume that you are being asked to stop and demonstrate your capacity for thinking big. Amazon is looking for product managers who can bring their bold visions to life. Their leaders are open to ideas that look beyond the present circumstance (i.e., ideas that place an emphasis on long-term value over immediate results). Deeply analytical people sometimes struggle to see the big picture. On the other hand, those who are constantly planning months or years in advance might not pay attention to the details. It's important to be able to balance the two. Keep in mind that you will be expected to deliver on big ideas and detail the intricate details behind them in accordance with Amazon's Dive Deep LP.
- Sometimes we can get buried in the details and lose sight of the big picture. How do you ensure this doesn't happen?
- Tell me about a time when you thought differently to improve a process that was working.
Bias for Action
Speed matters in business. Many decisions and actions are reversible and do not need extensive study. We value calculated risk taking.
People frequently fall prey to "analysis paralysis," which occurs when you take too long planning instead of acting. Amazon believes that making a decision is better than doing nothing and that most decisions do not require 100% certainty. They hire product managers who are intelligent and right, a lot. They trust their PMs to act quickly and take action rather than wait. Instead of conducting surveys, tests, or projecting results, you learn more by actually launching features and measuring the results. Amazon relies on leaders who are willing to act and take risks because it is the right thing to do.
- Describe a time when you made a decision based on incomplete information.
- How do you overcome analysis paralysis?
Accomplish more with less. Constraints breed resourcefulness, self-sufficiency and invention. There are no extra points for growing headcount, budget size or fixed expense.
There are no extra points for growing headcount, budget size, or fixed expenses. The corporate culture at Amazon is more akin to a large startup than a country club. Instead of spending money on unnecessary expenses, resources are put toward improving the customer experience. Having too much to do and not enough time is totally acceptable. Your interviewer is interested in learning how you managed to be successful despite having few resources. You should accept the fact that the final item on our stack will never be completed. Amazon's frugality is one of the main factors contributing to its success. Take a look at Amazon's business practices. Amazon frequently lowers prices to remain competitive. Efficiency is actively pursued while low prices are highly valued. Showcase how you were able to deliver excellent value despite having few resources such as time, money, or staffing.
- Describe a time when you improved a process with a limited budget.
- Tell me about a time when you had to make a tradeoff between quality and cost.
Leaders listen attentively, speak candidly, and treat others respectfully. They are vocally self-critical, even when doing so is awkward or embarrassing. Leaders do not believe their or their team's body odor smells of perfume. They benchmark themselves and their teams against the best.
The "vocally self-critical" component of this principle is the one that is most frequently overlooked. Talk about how you respond to mistakes, both your own and those of others. Describe how you prioritize identifying solutions over assigning blame. Talk about the ways you've fostered trust among team members because Amazon values mutual respect and honesty. Describe how you have been proactive in pointing out errors and problems. Be sure to maintain your modesty and refrain from bragging about your accomplishments.
- Share an example of a failure in your career.
- How do you earn the trust of team members?
- Tell me about a time you made a serious mistake at work.
Leaders operate at all levels, stay connected to the details, audit frequently, and are skeptical when metrics and anecdote differ. No task is beneath them.
People struggle with this principle the most. Interviewers may follow up on your answers by asking you "why, why, why" in order to elicit more specific information. Be prepared to discuss in detail what YOU did in the circumstance, how you investigated the situation in depth, and the results of your actions. When discussing what you did to complete tasks, use the pronoun "I" rather than "we." Give your interviewer a granular level of detail. Amazon PMs must have the aptitude and desire to investigate situations when something doesn't make sense. You had better be able to provide evidence and data to back up your claims. If you released features that reduced error rates, you should be able to enumerate the details of those errors. Amazon wants product managers who can speak at a high level and dig into the details.
- Describe a problem you solved recently. What was the root cause of the problem?
- Tell me about a time you leveraged data to develop strategy?
Have Backbone; Disagree and Commit
Leaders are obligated to respectfully challenge decisions when they disagree, even when doing so is uncomfortable or exhausting. Leaders have conviction and are tenacious. They do not compromise for the sake of social cohesion. Once a decision is determined, they commit wholly.
Disagreement is welcomed as long as it's supported by data and a logical argument. At Amazon, it's unacceptable to do something because your boss said so. When an action is taken, it is because the team has decided to follow a plan after considering the available data. At Amazon, data is king. Disagreements based on data are excellent. Share an example of a time when you gathered evidence to support a claim that was contested by others. Ideally, talk about a decision that was made that you disagreed with and how you handled the consequences by sticking with the team's decision even though you felt it was wrong. Show that despite the decision, you are a team player and you took actions to ensure the team's success. It's critical that you understand that you won't win every argument, and that's okay since it's more crucial to move forward and begin executing.
- Tell me about a time when you challenged a decision in your organization.
- Describe a time when you had a strong opinion about a project but the team decided to take a different route.
Leaders focus on the key inputs for their business and deliver them with the right quality and in a timely fashion. Despite setbacks, they rise to the occasion and never settle.
At the end of the day, Amazon employees need to deliver value and results. This one should be fairly clear. Amazon loves data, so use metrics to show the impact of your work (e.g., reduced customer support tickets by 21%, reduced bug count by 18%, 33% higher customer satisfaction score, etc.). Whether it was a monetary gain, a business improvement, or the launch of a new product, you must show how you made an impact.
- What is your biggest accomplishment?
- What impact did you make in your previous company?
Strive to be Earth's Best Employer
Leaders work every day to create a safer, more productive, higher performing, more diverse, and more just work environment. They lead with empathy, have fun at work, and make it easy for others to have fun. Leaders ask themselves: Are my fellow employees growing? Are they empowered? Are they ready for what's next? Leaders have a vision for and commitment to their employees' personal success, whether that be at Amazon or elsewhere.
This is one of Amazon's more recent leadership principles. Amazon is dedicated to being an inclusive and diverse workplace where leaders demonstrate empathy and emotional intelligence while still producing results. Empathic leadership entails making the effort to understand others' perspectives. Delivering results is not the only measure of success. Amazon wants to hire leaders who recognize that they work with other humans. We spend far too much of our days at work for it to be unpleasant. As a leader, you need to care about your employees. You must be concerned with your team members' satisfaction, their ability to advance in their careers, and their sense of purpose in their daily work.
- How do you deal with managing at team of different backgrounds, levels, and skills?
- How have you made your employees excited about coming to work?
Success and Scale Bring Broad Responsibility
We started in a garage, but we're not there anymore. We are big, we impact the world, and we are far from perfect. We must be humble and thoughtful about even the secondary effects of our actions. Our local communities, planet, and future generations need us to be better every day. We must begin each day with a determination to make better, do better, and be better for our customers, our employees, our partners, and the world at large. And we must end every day knowing we can do even more tomorrow. Leaders create more than they consume and always leave things better than how they found them.
This is one of Amazon's more recent leadership principles, and it's unlikely that you'll be asked questions that test this leadership principle during your PM interview. Amazon leaders must acknowledge that their decisions have a significant impact and that they are accountable for it. Amazon leaders must see beyond their business goals and ensure that the company is acting morally. Doing the right thing can be particularly hard when it conflicts with our calculations of what could drive business outcomes. Amazon expects its leaders to make morally sound decisions.
- As you conduct internal and external business activities, how do you promote and maintain social, ethical, and organizational norms?
- Tell me about your perception of the impact your work has on the world.
Land a PM job at Amazon!
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