Sneak Peek: The three most common Amazon interview questions. Tell me about a time when...
- You solved a customer pain point. Watch Amazon PM's answer.
- You solved a complex problem. Watch Amazon TPM's answer.
- You raised the bar. Watch answer.
One of the most commonly asked questions in the Amazon interview process is, "Why do you want to work at Amazon?" For such a large tech company, spinning an answer on the spot just won’t do.
So, below, we explore the titular question and provide you some good, useable examples of exactly why you’d want to work at Amazon.
- The Reasoning Behind the “Why Amazon?” Question
- Top Reasons to Work at Amazon
- How to Answer “Why Amazon?” Interview Questions
- Sample Answers to the “Why Amazon?” Question
- Avoid Mistakes When Answering the “Why Amazon?” Question
The Reasoning Behind the “Why Amazon?” Question
Most people are aware of the top-notch salaries paid to techies working at Amazon, but the salary isn't going to carry you through this question. Actually, referencing the remuneration package is likely a good way to shoot yourself in the foot.
Interviewers asking the "Why Amazon?" question want to see motivation beyond the money. They want to understand what drives you and how well you’ll slot into the Amazon ecosystem.
So, it's best to go into the question with a prepared answer that focuses on your feelings and emotions toward the role.
This provides the perfect opportunity for you to talk about your goals, your expectations, and your personal values and how they relate to Amazon's principles.
There are plenty of examples of good responses to the "Why Amazon?" question, and we're going to explore some of those further down. However, in starting to think about a model answer, you ideally want to touch on topics such as:
- Amazon’s unique products: The Amazon ecosystem is huge and continues to grow. This provides a unique opportunity to prepare a detailed answer about one of the tech giant's products and how much it interests you.
- Connections within the company: Knowing current or former employees who have worked for Amazon could help you get an edge. If you can discuss their positive experiences, then it shows that you already understand what it’s can be like to work for Amazon.
- Amazon’s mission statement and principles: We'll talk about Amazon's leadership principles more in a moment, but they make a good talking point for the "Why Amazon?" question. Aligning your answer with these not only shows that you're on the same page, but it also shows that you've done your homework on the company.
- Your career aspirations: Amazon’s size means that there are plenty of opportunities for progression within the company. Discussing where you might hope to be in five or ten years can show that you’re in it for the long haul. Just be sure to reiterate how much interest you have in the position you’re interviewing for so as not to get ahead of yourself.
Top Reasons to Work at Amazon
Unprepared candidates may simply divulge that they regularly order products through the Amazon website. In reality, Amazon does far more than ecommerce. AWS (Amazon Web Services) is the world's most commonly used cloud platform. Amazon Alexa is the most popular smart home speaker in the US.
Amazon’s Leadership Principles
Any good answer to the "Why Amazon?" question will include reference to Amazon's leadership principles, of which there are fourteen. You shouldn't try to incorporate every single principle into your answer, as it'll lengthen your answer to the point that it's unreasonably long. Instead, try to memorize at least three or four of the principles and work them into your answer.
To help give you an idea of what Amazon considers to be important, we've outlined their leadership principles below. For each of these, you’ll find Amazon’s take on what exactly makes a great leader in each area:
- 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.
- Bias for Action: Speed matters in business. Many decisions and actions are reversible and do not need extensive study. We value calculated risk taking.
- Customer Obsession: Leaders start with the customer and work backwards. They work vigorously to earn and keep customer trust. A customer-centric approach to solutions is always preferred.
- Deliver Results: 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.
- Dive Deep: Leaders operate at all levels, stay connected to the details, audit frequently, and are sceptical when metrics differ. No task is beneath them.
- Earn Trust: Leaders listen attentively, speak candidly, and treat others respectfully. They are vocally self-critical, even when doing so is awkward or embarrassing.
- Frugality: Accomplish more with less. Constraints breed resourcefulness, self-sufficiency, and invention.
- Have Backbone; Disagree and Commit: Leaders are obligated to respectfully challenge decisions when they disagree with co-workers, even when doing so is uncomfortable or exhausting.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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."
- Learn and Be Curious: Leaders are never done learning and always seek to improve themselves.
- Ownership: 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. An Amazonian will never say “that’s not my job."
- Think Big: Thinking small is a self-fulfilling prophecy. Leaders create and communicate a bold direction that inspires results.
That’s a lot of ground to cover, which is why you should be identifying those three or four principles that you can master and turn into a winning answer. Here are a few quick examples of how that might be done; we’ll provide more detailed sample answers to the “Why Amazon?” question further down in this post.
- Bias for Action: For this principle, you might talk about a time when you had to work quickly and with little guidance. As a Software Engineer, perhaps you discovered and fixed a bug within a live system before anybody else had had chance to pick it up.
- Invent and Simplify: Innovation is important to Amazon, which is why you might want to think about a time when you came up with an original concept and ran with it through to implementation.
- Ownership: Here, you could talk about the scope of your responsibilities in previous roles. Perhaps you wore multiple hats to ensure that a project was delivered successfully; this shows that you shun the attitude of, “That’s not my job.”
Hopefully, you should now have now got a strong idea of what essential qualities and experiences Amazon values. With that in mind, let’s move on and look at how to answer the “Why Amazon?” interview questions in more detail.
How to Answer “Why Amazon?” Interview Questions
Before going through with your Amazon interview, you need to spend some time preparing an answer for this question so that you know what to expect. Proper preparation is key to succeeding in an interview of this calibre, and we strongly recommend not going into this interview unprepared.
Leaving yourself a week or so, if possible, consider the following points ahead of your scheduled interview:
- Research Amazon and understand its business. Dig a little deeper into the history and culture of the company so that you have more ammunition for your interview. Think about the potential talking points that interest you, and consider what you could bring to the role itself.
- Familiarize yourself with the job description. Now, it's time to go back to the job description that landed you the interview in the first place. What parts of the role interested you most? How does this position align with your career aspirations? What would make you the best candidate for the role over somebody else?
- Start putting together a brief answer on paper. Take the points above and elaborate on them, making a brief, two to three-paragraph response to the “Why Amazon?” question. In your response, remember the Amazon principles that we discussed above, and try to incorporate several of them into your response, at least in some detail. We’ll show some examples of how this might look below.
- Refine your answer and shorten it to bullet points. Tighten up your answer, cutting out any superfluous information that doesn’t add value to your answer. Try to shorten it down into the main points so that it’s a memorable length. If possible, you can then try to condense everything down into a few key bullet points, which will make it easier to remember when you practice.
- Now, it’s time to practice your model answer. Go over your answer again and again, until it's committed to memory. Practice reading it aloud until it feels natural and you're able to narrate it without the paper being present. Focus on the most important points, relating them back to Amazon’s principles, and make sure that you can recite them all with ease, from memory.
Sample Answers to the “Why Amazon?” Question
Before you start plotting your model answer, it’s a good idea to take a look at some sample answers that you might give. Below, we’ve written out some example answers to the “Why Amazon?” question.
We’ve focused on a few key roles within the business and the potential answers that each may give to this key question. Pay attention to the boldened sections, where we’ve clearly signposted to one of Amazon’s key principles.
Sample Answer No.1: Software Engineer
“I'm interested in joining the Amazon team because I have strong experience in IoT technology and think that there is huge potential for innovation in this market. This is why I feel inspired by Amazon’s focus on inventing and being curious. In my last role, I applied my experience in machine learning and artificial intelligence to launch a new, customer-focused discounts app in the ecommerce space.
Ultimately, I think that Amazon’s broad market presence will give me a lot of exposure to all levels of a business operation. I think that taking a deep-dive approach to the industry is important, as it lets you see the bigger picture. It's important to be aware of not only your immediate role and responsibilities, but also how those products or services are performing and pleasing or disappointing consumers.”
Sample Answer No.2: Data Analyst
“I want to work for Amazon because I’m ready to take the next steps in my career and understand that Amazon values ownership. In my last role, I spearheaded a project to improve CTR through our website. I had to wear numerous hats, including business analyst, product owner, and scrum master, but the outcome led to a 200% increase in sales through our website funnel. It’s my hope that I can apply that same level of dedication to helping drive business strategy at Amazon.
I’ve also got extensive experience in producing and communicating MI reports with senior stakeholders. Amazon believes that great leaders are right, a lot, but I think that having strong MI data to help drive decisions is essential. That’s why I work hard to earn trust with key stakeholders, ensuring that they have the information they need to make key business decisions.”
Sample Answer No.3: Product Manager
“I decided that I wanted to be a Product Manager when I noticed the closeness that this role has to consumer products. Customer obsession is important to me, as it drives innovation and improvements in the products that we use every day.
In my last role, I saw a lot of success, regularly hitting key deliverables on-time and to-budget. I largely hired the team, participating in the interviews myself, as I believe it's important to have high standards and develop the best project team possible. As such, I had the resources I need to succeed time and time again.”
Avoid Mistakes When Answering the “Why Amazon?” Question
The above three examples show the importance of linking your answer back to Amazon's essential principles. The only thing left to cover is a few common mistakes that you should steer clear of during your Amazon interview:
- Discussing remuneration: It’s often recommended that you avoid discussing remuneration until further along in the interview process. Certainly, this topic and stock prices are two subjects that you’d be best pushing back until a subsequent interview stage. Large tech companies like Amazon are aware of their competitive salaries and benefits packages, and raising this early on in the interview process may make it seem like you’re only applying for the money.
- Speaking negatively of past employers: When you're searching for new jobs, especially with a huge brand like Amazon, it can be tempting to focus too much on the reasons for your move. This is natural, as we get excited and imagine ourselves working in the role, before we’ve even secured it. But even if you've had a negative experience in your current role, avoid speaking badly of your employer. Instead, focus on the new things you've learned or achieved while working in your current role.
- Focusing on Amazon’s size: Working for a household brand is appealing to many job hunters, as it’s generally seen as a stable place to work, with decent salaries and benefits, and can be a good line on your resume. However, listing the company name as a sole reason for your application is a bad idea. There are many companies of similar sizes, such as Google, Microsoft, and Tesla, and you could just as easily be applying for other roles in other large companies.
With all of the above in mind, you should now be ready to start plotting your own answer to the “Why Amazon?” question.
By preparing properly, you’ll take the fear and anticipation out of waiting for this question to drop. Instead, you’ll be able to give a model answer that shows you’ve clearly researched Amazon and understand the value of working there.