Facebook, Apple, Amazon, Netflix, and Google - famously called FAANG - are favorites of investors, consumers, and employees around the globe. As a result of this, the job landscape has become increasingly competitive for these companies. The interview process for any of these companies generally includes the following steps:
- Application submission
- Phone screen
- Phone or video interview
- In-person interview (many companies are conducting these interviews virtually because of the COVID situation)
- Hiring team review
- Selection or rejection
However, Amazon, in addition to these stages, also requires candidates to complete a writing assessment as part of their interview process.
In this blog, we’ll talk about everything you need to know regarding the writing exercise at Amazon during the Technical Project Manager interview process.
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Writing Exercise in Amazon TPM Interview - A Primer
Written communication is crucial for Amazon’s company culture. No matter the job profile you look at, you’ll definitely find writing work in some form or the other. As a result of this, Amazon includes a writing assessment in their interview process to gauge the writing skills of their candidates.
This writing exercise at Amazon consists of two written questions that are asked to all candidates before their on-site interviews. The candidates are asked to choose one of the two questions, write the subjective answer, and mail their response at least 2 days prior to the on-site interview.
Your response for these questions should not be longer than 4 pages, and ideally should be 2 pages long. Anything more than 2 pages is likely to bore the reviewer, considering the number of submissions they have to read!
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How is the assessment evaluated?
Reviewers at Amazon will assess and grade your submission broadly on the following two criteria:
- Clarity of expressions and thoughts.
- Structure and organization of thoughts.
Therefore to ensure higher chances of cracking the written test at Amazon, explain your answer properly while keeping a logical flow of the written piece.
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Amazon Writing Exercise Questions in TPM Interview
The recruiters at Amazon give you an option of choosing from one of two questions. The questions asked are the same for everyone, and you can choose one from these:
Writing Question 1 - Amazon TPM Interview
The first question asked in the written exercise is around the sort of innovation you’ve previously brought to the table. The question will be to describe the most innovative or inventive thing you’ve done in the past.
For your answer - we’d recommend picking any one instance of innovation that was your idea - it could be a new product idea, a change in process, a new metric, or a novel customer interface. You don’t necessarily need to have a patent to your name or anything quite as complicated; just anything innovative that brought positive changes to your work.
Keep in mind that you shouldn’t disclose any information that your current or previous employers would deem confidential. Give all relevant context the reviewers would need in order to understand your innovation.
Answer questions such as the problems you were seeking to solve, the metrics you used, what the result looked like, was it an important problem to solve, the difference that solving this problem achieved on a larger scale.
If you choose to answer this question, here are some things you should definitely include in your answer to keep it well rounded:
- How scalable is your innovation? Does it allow for automation and scalability without spending additional monetary or human resources?
- What is the breadth of impact of the innovation?
- What is the sphere of influence of the invention?
Writing Question 2 - Amazon TPM Interview
While the first question is about past innovation, the second question focuses on your judgments. After all, most decisions can be made with analysis, but without proper judgment calls, the decisions may not be fruitful in the long run. The second question asks you to elaborate on a judgment call that you’ve made. It can be a judgment call in any context, as long as it focuses on specific business issues that you’re able to articulate.
While writing this answer, give the context of the entire situation, the challenges, and your decision-making process. Talk about the various alternatives you considered and evaluated while arriving at the final conclusion - and explain why you deprioritized alternatives while arriving at the final judgment. We've discussed this briefly in our guide on how to become a product manager, too.
Things to know before attempting either of the two answers:
- Don’t include any confidential or proprietary information that might cause problems.
- Use specific examples and lots of data points.
- Approach the answer like you’re writing a STAR - Situation, Task, Action, Results.
- Your answer shouldn’t look disjointed - make sure there’s a story to tell, and ensure that it flows properly.
In Conclusion - Ace the Amazon Technical Program Manager Interview
Amazon believes that words are the only medium that can help you successfully resolve any conflicts that you’ll face while making high-velocity business decisions. This is simply because words are measurable, intentional, specific, and bound in time.
Clarity in words goes a long way in getting your point across while working in teams as big as Amazon’s. Clearing the written test is important for you to show the recruiters that you’re a perfect fit for the role of a Technical Program Manager at Amazon.