Amazon Engineering Manager

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The role of an Amazon Engineering Manager

Amazon is the world's largest e-commerce company and also a major technology firm. Whether it is its dynamic e-commerce platform, intelligent virtual assistant Alexa or the reliable cloud computing service AWS, Amazon has an ever-growing presence in the digital sphere. As Amazon continues.

An engineering manager is a senior company role where one is responsible for ensuring that key projects and engineering duties are fulfilled. They are responsible for solving any engineering issue that comes up in a project. A few of the main duties of an engineering manager are answering technical questions, proposing budgets for projects, recruiting & training new employees, and working with various other departments. They also have to prepare reports on the progress of any project. Some of the jobs titles that an engineering manager could grow into are director of engineering and chief technology officer.

Engineering Manager a.k.a Software Development Manager salary at Amazon:

  • Entry-level salary: $325,000.
  • Senior positions   :$535,000. 
  • Median salary      :$410,000 with base component being $160,000, stock component being $250,000 and bonus being NA.

Role and responsibilities

  • Provide technical expertise and leadership throughout product life cycles, influence software engineers best practices for your team and own operational metrics
  • Work with business leaders and product managers to define product requirements.
  • Prioritize, communicate, maintain, and execute roadmaps, project plans, and commitments
  • Work with engineers to define technical requirements and architect and execute best-in-class implementations in agile manner
  • Build and maintain world-class customer experience and operational excellence for your deliverables
  • Hire, manage, and mentor a team of Software Engineers.

Basic Qualifications required

  • Bachelors/Masters degree in Computer Science or related field
  • 10+ years professional experience in software development management
  • Proficiency in, at least, one modern programming language such as Java, Scala, C#, C++ etc
  • Ability to solve complex technical problems and design robust, scalable solutions
  • Ability to think critically and actively contribute to strategic choices.
  • 3+ years experience in managing development teams working on multiple simultaneous projects.
  • 3+ years experience in managing large scale software development teams following Agile development processes.
  • Strong skills in project planning & execution 
  • Problem-solving abilities
  • Ability to take a project from initial scoping requirements through actual launch and support of the project
  • Proven leadership and teamwork skills
  • Excellent verbal and written communication skills in both technical and non-technical discussions.

Preferred skills:

  • Deep, hands-on technical expertise in high scale, service-oriented architectures
  • Exposure to Elastic Map Reduce and Machine Learning programs.
  • Ability to handle multiple competing priorities in a fast-paced environment
  • Knowledge of professional software engineering practices & best practices for the full software development life cycle including coding standards, code reviews, source control management, build processes, testing, and operations
  • Clear, professional communication skills able to contribute to team discussions, knowing when to contribute, when to listen, and when to ask questions
  • Proactively and continually improve their level of knowledge about Amazon’s business and relevant technologies, and use this knowledge to deliver high quality, accurate software deliverables
  • Strong business and technical vision
  • Good understanding of web services

Interview Guide

The interview for the post of Amazon Engineering Manager, also called Amazon Software Development Manager is a 3 stage process. The process comprises an initial phone screen by a hiring manager, followed by a video conference screen, and concludes with an onsite interview. There's also a written assignment test between the video conference screen and the onsite round. The onsite round is a full-day event and consists of five 1:1 interviews 

Initial Screen

Overview

The initial screen is a 30-minute telephonic interview with the recruiter. This is aimed at ensuring that you are experientially a good match for the role you are being interviewed for. This makes it important that you go through your resume well and are able to recount and describe your past experiences as the recruiter asks. Be ready to tell the interviewers the technologies you have worked on, the people you have worked with, and your successes and pitfalls therein. Prepare a good answer for the expected "Why Amazon" question. 

Video Conference Screen

Overview

After the initial screen, you will get to face a video screen, which, as the name suggests, is conducted via video conferencing, by an interview panel that consists of the hiring manager and an Engineer. The duration of this interview is usually 45 minutes but it may go up to an hour. This interview will test the following sets of skills:

  • Depth and breadth of technical knowledge

The interviewers are going to test your system design skills, data structures, coding, and your conceptual understanding of distributed systems.

  • People management skills

For an organization as large as Amazon, extracting the best out of its employees is of vital importance. To do this, Amazon relies on the ability of its managers to set up a collaborative and cooperative environment at the workplace to give the best results for the company in terms of worker productivity.

  • Leadership skills

Here, the focus is primarily going to be on Amazon's 14 Leadership Principles. We recommend you to prepare stories from your professional life and experiences around each one of these principles. We assure you this would come in handy.

Tips

  • The Amazon EMl interview will have an overwhelming focus on the ‘Hire and Develop The Best’ leadership principle of Amazon. Interviewers may want to probe your past career as a people manager in more detail. Things like how you managed low performers, how you incentivized good performers, and your mentorship skills will be tested.
  • Also, be ready to answer questions on delegation of responsibilities to juniors at the workplace.

Interview Questions

Most commonly asked questions in the video conference screen:

Technical skills

System Design

  • Can you design a clustered caching system website like Amazon.com?
  • How would you revamp the frontend of the Amazon.com shopping app to increase its user-friendliness?

Distributed Systems

  • Can you desikey-valuevalue pair storing system in a distributed system?
  • Name some distributed systems you have worked with? What were the challenges you faced working with these?

Coding skills

  • Write a function that returns the length of the longest leaf-to-leaf path in a binary tree.
  • How would you find an element in a sorted rotated integer array.

People Management skills

  • Tell me about a few people on your team and the career development plans you created with them.
  • Give an example of a time when you turned around a low performer.
  • How do you deal with difficult people on your team?

Leadership skills

  • Tell us about a time when you received some difficult feedback. Why was it hard to receive?
  • What is your approach to coaching and career development for your subordinates?
  • Do you have 1 on 1s with your subordinates? How often do you do these? What is the structure of your 1 on 1s?

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Writing Assignment

Overview

Amazon gives a major emphasis to the communication skills of its managers. To this end, it gives its candidates a writing assignment before proceeding to the onsite round. As part of the assignment, you’ll be asked to write a page or two regarding your past achievements.  This exercise is meant to assess your communication skills and also serve as a starting point for some behavioural questions in the onsite round. You must explain the background and context of the achievement. As an Engineering Manager, you are expected to be a leader. Hence, do not forget to give part of the credit to your team members when stating your achievements.

Onsite Round

Overview

After you have cleared the video conference screen, the recruiter will set up an onsite interview with you at one of Amazon's campuses. The onsite loop comprises 5-6 interviews during the day, each being an hour long. The interview panel consists of 3-4 members, one of them being an HR manager, a senior engineering manager, and a senior company executive at Amazon. The duration of the onsite round is about 6 hours.

Questions are mostly behavioural, and test your managerial skills. There might be some questions from technical areas such as system design, scalability and distributed systems, and data structures. Following are some key areas from which questions have been asked most recently for the Amazon Engineering Manager role:

Most asked questions in the onsite round

Employee Feedback and Performance Management

  • Have you ever promoted anyone? What factors did you consider?
  • How do you manage low performers?
  • Tell me about a time you turned around a low performer.
  • How would you go about firing someone?

Hiring ability

  • What qualities do you look for when hiring?
  • Say something about the diversity of your team.
  • What is your diversity hiring strategy?
  • How do you recruit and hire in the SF Bay Area (because it is so competitive)?
  • How long does it take you to hire and source candidates? 

Prioritization and Execution of responsibilities

  • Tell us how you manage multiple requests for your team? How do you deal with competing priorities?
  • Have you ever disagreed with your product manager about the priority of tasks or if something needed to be done at all?
  • Describe the tradeoffs between scope, quality, and schedule?
  • How do you work with product managers, UX team, and other stakeholders?
  • Which of your projects are you most proud of?
  • Tell me about a time you exceeded expectations.
  • Have you ever headed a project that overshot the deadline? 
  • Have you ever made a mistake that hurt the business?

To sum it up, focus on preparing your CV well for the initial screen. The video screen will mainly test your leadership, although some technical areas such as system design, scalability and distributed systems need to be prepared well. Amazon's leadership principles will be a regular theme in all stages of the interview, including the onsite round. The trick is to weave your professional experiences into short stories and present them as the interviewers demand. With these things in mind, we are sure you will crack the Amazon Engineering Manager interview.

Thanks for reading!

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Frequently Asked Questions

How many rounds are there in the Amazon Engineering Manager interview?

There are 4 rounds- Initial screen, Video Conference screen, Writing assignment, and Onsite round.