Product Management is all around improving customer experiences in a way that drives revenue, earnings and profit margins - and Amazon's Product Manager interview process is particularly good at filtering out PMs who are good at this.
As a Product Manager at Amazon, you're typically responsible for a key product end-to-end, all the way from evaluating market trends, driving growth through solving customer pain points, and learning and iterating. Their interview process is designed to evaluate both your product skills as well as your cultural fit - Amazon likeliest has the strongest focus on behavioral questions through alignment with its Leadership Principles amongst any other company of its size.
Amazon recruits PMs from a variety of backgrounds, including undergraduates, MBA graduates (their most common source of PMs), and seasoned professionals. Although Amazon's e-commerce division is open to people from all walks of life, AWS favors those with a technical background. This interview guide will walk you through the process of interviewing for a Product Manager role at Amazon, and includes a bunch of useful tips and sample questions to practice against.
Your application for product management positions on Amazon's ‘career page’ is the first step in the process. If you are shortlisted, a recruiter will normally contact you within four to six weeks. The interview process consists of the following stages:
- Call or email from an HR Recruiter
- Phone screen interviews
- On-site interviews
A take-home assignment or exercise, which is essentially an essay of about 2-3 pages, is also included in the interview.
We've got the same guide also available to watch as a short video if you prefer consuming content that way.
An email or phone call from an HR recruiter is the first step in the process. They want to make sure you have a strong cultural and experiential fit, so be prepared to talk about your experience as a PM and why you'd be a good match at Amazon. They will then assist in the scheduling of the next round.
What the interviewer will assess
- Your expectations of the role (so you must be familiar with the job description which can sometimes get quite specific on what they're looking for).
- Your willingness to adapt to the workplace culture.
- Your background and prior experience as a PM.
Be super familiar with past work. And relax - this one's relatively straightforward, the recruiter is mostly trying to make sure you're the real deal.
- What drew you to Amazon?
- Tell me about your background. Tell me about yourself and why this job is a good fit for you.
- What do you want to get out of this job at Amazon?
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Phone screen interviews are the next step in the process. Senior members of the Product team - often the hiring manager in charge of the recruiting, will usually conduct this interview. The aim of these discussions is to check an array of topics high level, and ensure your competence in these. e
Some things to keep in mind are:
- You typically know if you've progressed to the next round within 24 hours.
- The interview usually takes 45-50min.
- You'll get a mix of product, strategy and behavioral (Leadership Principles) related questions.
If you don't do great, you might be asked to do a follow-up phone interview, which is very similar to the first but might focus on areas where your first interviewer thought they need to dig deeper.
What the interviewer will assess
- The interviewer wants to make sure you're familiar with the expectations of the role you've applied for.
- They are testing your ability to think of answers and solutions on the fly
- You're also being tested for your alignment with Amazon's Leadership Principles.
- It's all about Amazon's leadership principles. The most important thing to do when preparing for an interview is to do extensive research on the concepts and to know when and where to bring them up. You should be able to include at least two examples to back up why you embody each leadership philosophy.
- To deal with the situational issues, The STAR system (situation, task, action, result) works well. In this setting, you can first provide some background on the situation you were in. Then you'd mention which activities you were a part of to fix the situation. After that, you'd go through the steps you took and, finally, the outcomes of your actions.
- Could you tell me about a time when you successfully solved a problem?
- Give an example of your obsession with customers.
- Describe a customer feedback suggestion that you put into action.
- Tell me about a time when you declined a customer request and why you did so.
- Describe a time when you had to make a critical decision without consulting your boss.
- Tell me about a time when you launched a product that was considered to have risks.
Once you are through the phone screen, you'll likely be asked to write a one- to two-page essay in preparation for your on-site interviews on a subject like "What is the most creative project you've worked on?" or "Talk about an experience in which you were able to make your customers' lives easier." It's important to note that, whether or not it's specified in the assignment guidelines, interviewers will be looking at how your essay relates to leadership principles.
The next stage is to spend a full day at one of Amazon's offices, where you will be interviewed six to seven times. These one-on-one interviews will last about 60 minutes and will include a variety of people from the team you're applying to join, such as colleagues, the recruiting manager, and a senior executive. During the interview, each interviewer is normally given two or three leadership principles to concentrate on.
In the selection process, each of these interviewers is given equal weight except for the bar raiser.
An interviewer from a different business unit than the one for which you are applying is referred to as a bar raiser. These interviewers aren't affiliated with the team for which you're applying, and they're more concerned with overall applicant quality than with particular team requirements. They receive specialized training to ensure that Amazon's hiring standards remain strong and do not deteriorate over time, and they serve as a significant barrier between you and the work offer.
What the interviewer will assess
- During the on-site interview, interviewers will use the Amazon Leadership Principles to assess your cultural fit, and the Bar Raiser will play a key role in the group's final decision.
- The Product Manager interview process at Amazon focuses heavily on determining whether or not you live and breathe the company's 14 Leadership Principles. Customer obsession, bias for action, ownership, and Have backbone: disagree and commit are the ones to concentrate on first.
- Interviewers want to see if you're aware of the implications of each decision on the consumer experience. Not only do you need to know who the client is and what their underlying needs are, but you also need to know who the customer is and what their underlying needs are.
- Amazon interviewers want to avoid recruiting candidates who say things like, "That's not my job!" When answering questions, you'll want to show that you're self-motivated, capable of making difficult choices, and willing to accept responsibility for your mistakes.
- Amazon prefers to learn by doing and measuring rather than doing customer research and making predictions because they want to ship quickly. As a result, you should be able to demonstrate that you are willing to take calculated risks to move things forward, a very important attribute to becoming a product manager.
- At some point, any group of smart leaders would disagree. Amazon needs to see that you can question ideas and escalate issues to senior management when necessary. At the same time, they want to know that regardless of your disagreement, you can feel when it's time to move forward. As a result, you should be able to demonstrate this in your responses.
- Tell me about a time when you saw a better opportunity than your boss had asked.
- When was the last time you made a short-term sacrifice to complete a long-term goal?
- Tell me about a time when a customer provided you with constructive criticism.
- Tell me about a time when you had to make a decision based on skewed data. How did you do it, and how did it turn out?
- Give an example of a time when you failed to reach a deadline.
- Tell me about a time when you disagreed with your team but chose to go ahead with their plan despite their objections.
- Which kind of workplace do you prefer?
- When was the last time you were publicly questioned, and how did you respond?
- Offer clear examples of how you got a product to market.
- Please tell me about a time when you redesigned a method and why you did so.
- What is the most creative concept you've ever come up with?
- When was the last time you had to come up with a new idea at work? How did you put the idea into action? What methods did you use to assess the implementation and ensure that it could be replicated in the future?
- Describe a time when you had to deal with a large amount of data in a limited amount of time.
- Tell me about a time when you used customer data to create a product or gain insight into a market.
- Tell me about a time when you had to manage a project with a lot of opposition.
- What do you believe the most challenging aspects of software product management are?
- Tell me about your workday.
- Please provide an example of a time when you worked with a cross-geography team.
- Describe a moment when you suggested a counterintuitive approach to a dilemma and how you realized it necessitated a new mindset.
- Tell me about a time when you recruited or collaborated with people who were smarter than you.
You'll get an offer if you've done well and there's a mutual fit. You'll get a call from an Amazon recruiter 24 hours after your on-site interview, and you'll be asked about your salary requirements.
If you did well on the on-site but the team did not think you were a good fit, you will move on to the team matching stage, where you talk with recruiting managers from other teams. These post-site questions are likely to be more relaxed. To be secure, brush up on Amazon's leadership values and have stories to share about how you represent them.
It's also worth noting that recruiters and people who refer you have very little say in the process. They can help you get an interview at first, but that's all they can do.