Here are the top 10 most asked Amazon behavioral interview questions, along with suggested answers to help you show you are the right candidate for the job.
1. Tell me about your most challenging customer. How did you resolve their issues and make them satisfied?
Amazon is committed to customer service. Dealing with demanding customers is a part of the job, and you need to be prepared. This question is an opportunity to show that you can deal with customers who are being difficult. If you have not had the experience of dealing with difficult customers, you can use this as an opportunity to draw on other areas in your life where you may have had to deal with difficult people.
In my current role, I had to deal with a customer who thought he was being lied to. The customer was expecting a payment to be made to him and felt he had been lied to about the timeframe for receiving that payment. While I could see that we had given him the correct information, I knew I had to find a way to keep the customer happy and not overtly tell him he was wrong. I first listened to his concern, repeating back what I was hearing, and asking questions to clarify anything that was unclear. I wanted to reassure him that I would find a solution. While the customer had not been lied to about the timeframe for receiving the payment, I was able to find a way to make the payment to him sooner without costing the company anything.
2. Describe a time when you had to make a decision without having all the data or information you needed.
This question helps show the interviewer how you analyze a situation and approach problem-solving. It shows whether you can make quick decisions. Your answer should focus on your interpersonal skills. Don’t be inclined to focus on the negative points. Instead, take the opportunity to highlight the positives. It can be easy to turn this question into an opportunity to blame others for forcing you to make a decision without making sure you have all the information, but make sure to avoid doing that.
In my last role, when I was still new to the job, I met with a new prospective supplier. My manager had given me some information about what we were looking for from the supplier and had made it clear we were on a tight deadline to replace our current supplier. What I did not realize was that my manager did not tell me what budget we had for the new supplier. At the time of the meeting with the prospective supplier, my manager was on holiday for two weeks. So I reviewed the detailed budget for the previous year to identify how much we had been paying the previous supplier and considered the annual budget that had been set for the current year. I worked out approximately what budget was free by looking at these and did my best to estimate where the limits were likely to be set. Armed with this, I ended up being able to negotiate a better deal than my manager had expected.
3. Which Amazon leadership principle resonates with you most?
Amazon has 14 leadership principles. You should be familiar with each of them before your interview. Think about any situations you have been involved in that would demonstrate how you resonate with that principle. For example, if you choose customer obsession, explain why. If you opt to learn and be curious, talk about how you are always looking for new things to learn, perhaps by taking classes.
The principle that resonates most with me is customer obsession. My previous roles have all been customer-facing sales roles, and I appreciate that customers are at the heart of what we do to succeed. I know that an unhappy customer will be very vocal about the poor service they have had. I also know that a satisfied customer may share their recommendation if asked, but a customer who has had excellent service is more likely to talk unprompted about their experience.
4. Tell me about a time when you were working on a project, and you realized that you needed to make changes to what you were doing. How did you feel about the work you had already completed?
This question is designed to show your adaptability and how you cope with changing priorities. It is also an opportunity to show how you deal under pressure.
In my last role, we had acquired a competitor business. It was part of my role to ensure that all its products were input into our sales system. To do so, I had been given a list of all its current products, descriptions, and pricing by my manager. I prioritized my workload to allow this to take precedence, as I knew it was important to have a smooth integration. I had spent almost two days inputting the data into our system when I noticed that there was an error in the data that I had been provided. The data I had been provided was out of date, and a large proportion of the items that I had been inputting into the system were items that the competitor business had stopped selling. I immediately stopped inputting data and contacted my manager to discuss the next steps. Together we obtained the correct data, and I then spent additional time removing the incorrect data from the system. While it was frustrating to have spent so much time inputting the wrong data, I didn’t let myself become distracted from the task and focused on solving the problem.
5. Can you give me an example of a time when you exceeded expectations?
The answer you give to this question does not have to be specific to the role for which you are interviewing. It is designed to allow the interviewer to gain an understanding of whether you are the type of person to go above and beyond, or whether you are the type of person who follows instructions and does what they are told without considering whether you can do better. To ensure you impress the interviewer, describe a situation where you were given a very clear goal. Then, explain the opportunity that you spotted to go above and beyond what was expected and what the outcome was. Make it clear why exceeding what was required of you was the right thing to do.
In my last role, we implemented a new part of our process where we would ask each customer to review our service after a transaction. My instructions were to email every customer immediately after the transaction with a link to the internet page with our review. Personally, when I receive these kinds of unexpected emails, I ignore them, so I decided to ask customers at the end of our calls if they would mind if I emailed them a link to our review site to allow us to gain feedback about our service. Most customers agreed to this, and by asking the customer about the review on the phone, my return rate was over double that of my co-workers, who simply sent the email with no prior warning as they were instructed. My thought process was that giving the customer a choice in receiving the email or not engaged them in the process. I also thought that by completing the review, they were upholding their word to me, and the review was humanized. I did seek the permission of my manager in advance, as I was aware that if a customer refused to allow me to send the email I would be breaching my manager’s specific instructions to send the email to every customer. My manager was happy to allow me to modify the process, and I was pleased with the favorable outcome.
6. Can you describe a time when you took the lead on a project?
This question allows the interviewer to assess your leadership potential. It gives you the chance to discuss people-management, project management, or both. The interviewer will want to know how you managed the project and/or people and/or resources under your control to obtain the best possible outcome or return on the project. If you haven’t had the experience of leading a project, you can use examples from other areas of your life where you have taken a role in leading part of a project.
In my previous role, my team had hit a difficult period, with sales falling month on month. We were all tasked by our manager to come up with solutions to help improve our sales. I thought about our current training and approach and realized that many within the team had either not had specific sales training or had not had any refresher training for quite some time. I felt that having a training session on different sales methods might revitalize the team and help us to improve our sales. I discussed this with my manager, and we organized training and put in place a new sales strategy. My manager allowed me to set targets and ensure the training was given to the entire team. The outcome was that sales increased in the first quarter, which had the additional benefit of giving the team more self-confidence.
7. Think about a time you received negative feedback. How did you deal with that?
No one likes to receive negative feedback. Receiving negative feedback can make us defensive. In an interview, the interviewer is trying to find out your weaknesses, both in the area in which you received negative feedback and also in how you responded to that feedback. Think carefully about the story you tell – you don’t want to hurt your chances of securing the job – but use the story to show that you can listen to negative feedback and use it to ensure better results in the future.
In a previous role, my manager was critical about my time management skills. I had come from a team where my work was filtered through my manager to a role where I received work from 6 different team members. My manager felt that I was struggling to manage my time effectively. I was surprised by this, as no one within the team had raised any concerns with me. On the contrary, the feedback from within my team was all positive. So I took some time to consider the feedback my manager had given me, rather than responding immediately. I realized that my manager wasn’t aware of the amount of work I was producing because they had no visibility into the work I was receiving from other team members. I spoke with my manager, and we agreed that I would start recording all my tasks electronically so that she could see what I was working on. Previously, I used a manual to-do list on my desk. By taking the time to analyze the feedback from my manager and then later discussing it with her, I was able to show her that I had good time-management skills and find a way to allow her to see all my work assignments.
8. You witness a co-worker stealing. The value of the item is $2. What is your response?
In Amazon’s industry, shrinkage is a major concern. It is crucial to show your interviewer that you have high ethical standards and don’t tolerate stealing or any other unethical behavior, regardless of the value of the item. You can use this question to demonstrate that you understand that if every employee stole items worth $2, it would soon add up.
Theft, regardless of the value, is illegal and unethical. Further, it is against company policy. The issue would need to be addressed, and I would report it in line with Amazon’s policy. From a purely logical perspective, if everyone took items of small value, the overall cost would soon be significant to the company and would impact its profitability.
9. Tell me about a time when you had to deal with ambiguity. How did you overcome the ambiguity to reach a positive outcome?
The interviewer is asking this question to test whether you can act decisively in times of uncertainty. Ambiguity can arise in a number of different situations in the workplace; for example, there may be competing priorities, constantly changing deadlines or a lack of clarity around the chain of command. Ambiguity can lead to mistakes and misunderstandings. Workplaces such as Amazon need people to step up and help their teams and co-workers deal with ambiguity. Ambiguity also presents opportunities to show your creativity and be innovative. Use this question to demonstrate that you understand the positive aspects of ambiguity, rather than talking about its negative aspects.
In my previous role, we were launching a new product and had insufficient information. The data we were given wasn’t clear about which type of customer to target to ensure the best sales. I pointed this out to my manager. I suggested we look at our previous launch for a similar type of product, analyze the data used for that launch and the outcome of that launch, and then use that information to identify our target customer. It wasn’t a perfect substitute for good information, but the alternative of postponing the launch would have resulted in foregone income and increased cost for the additional preparation for the launch.
10. Describe a time when you had a set amount of time to complete a task.
This question gives the interviewer an opportunity to assess how you handle priorities and how you work under pressure. In a customer service environment such as at Amazon, there can be significant pressures on your time and changing deadlines. Show the interviewer that you can cope in such situations and can find a way to prioritize tasks appropriately.
In my last job, we offered different levels of delivery service. This meant that I had to prioritize picking orders on a daily basis to ensure that those orders with guaranteed delivery dates were shipped in time. I also had to ensure that orders that weren’t picked and shipped were still dispatched within on a timely basis to avoid customer complaints.
Next 40 Most Asked Amazon Behavioral Interview Questions
- Have you ever been wrong? Tell me about that time.
- How do you motivate others? Can you give me an example of a time you have motivated someone?
- Tell me about a time you have disagreed with your manager and how you handled it.
- What obstacles have you encountered in your career? How did you overcome them?
- Have you ever had to make a quick customer service decision without any help or guidance from a co-worker or manager? How did you arrive at a decision?
- You are asked by a supervisor to do something that is against policy and is unsafe. How would you handle that?
- Tell me about a time when you took a risk and failed. What did you learn from that experience?
- What do you do when faced with an unfamiliar task?
- Have you ever coached anyone? Tell me about that.
- Within a team, have you ever faced conflict? Tell me how you handled that conflict.
- Tell me about a time you helped a co-worker in their work.
- Tell me about a project you are proud of. How did you ensure high standards were met in delivering that project?
- Why do you want to work for Amazon?
- How do you ensure you have positive relationships with your co-workers?
- Tell me about a time when you have had to work to earn someone’s trust.
- Describe a time when you were given a project to work on, but your responsibilities were unclear. What did you do?
- Tell me about a time you showed initiative.
- You see a co-worker struggling with a task. What do you do?
- Have you ever had to make an unpopular decision? Tell me how you handled it.
- Have you ever had to ask for help at work? Tell me about it.
- Describe for me a time when your actions directly impacted customer satisfaction.
- What is your proudest professional achievement?
- Have you ever faced a complex problem and managed to come up with a simple solution? Tell me about that.
- Thinking about your current role, tell me about something that you have learned recently.
- What characteristics do you have that will help you succeed at Amazon?
- When you have the interests of large numbers of customers to think about, how do you prioritize their needs?
- Tell me of a time when you feel you influenced change in some way by only asking questions.
- Tell me a bit more about yourself.
- When was the last time you had to apologize to someone? Tell me about that.
- Describe for me a time when you had to choose short-term sacrifices to achieve long-term gains.
- Tell me about a time you had to make a tough decision without consulting anybody.
- How do you deal with having to provide feedback to someone?
- How do you motivate co-workers to work together as a team?
- Imagine a situation where separate managers have given you the same work to do, but that the priorities on each are different. What do you do?
- Tell me about a time you faced a challenge with a number of different solutions. How did you decide on the correct solution?
- How do you use data to develop strategies?
- Workplace safety is important. How do you help ensure everyone views it as a priority?
- Have you ever helped a co-worker who didn’t want help? Tell me about that.
- A manager asks you to do something with which you disagree. How do you handle that?
- Tell me about a time you failed to meet a deadline. How did you cope with that?
10 Best Questions to Ask in an Amazon Behavioral Interview
The interview isn’t just about the interviewer asking you questions. You will get the opportunity to ask questions at the end of the interview. You can use the questions you ask to reinforce your interest in the job and to gauge whether this is the right job for you. Here are the 10 best questions to ask.
- What does a typical day in this position look like?
- What do you think are the most challenging aspects of this role?
- Why do you enjoy working at Amazon?
- How do you think Amazon demonstrates its values?
- For someone in this role, what is the definition of success?
- How would you describe the culture here?
- What qualities do you think successful Amazon employees have?
- What do you think is the biggest challenge facing Amazon today?
- What would be expected of me in my first 90 days at Amazon?
- What makes people want to continue working here?
When preparing for an Amazon behavioral interview, take time to think about situations you have encountered, and how you can use them to demonstrate you are the right person for that job at Amazon. Being prepared for these types of questions will make you more confident and allow you to pay attention to the rapport you develop with your interviewer.
Keith Miller has over 25 years experience as a CEO and serial entrepreneur. As an entreprenuer, he has founded several multi-million dollar companies. As a writer, Keith's work has been mentioned in CIO Magazine, Workable, BizTech, and The Charlotte Observer. If you have any questions about the content of this blog post, then please send our content editing team a message here.