Program managers typically oversee a group of projects (and in some cases, a team of project managers), each of which is linked by a common aspect, such as a single company target. They are also in charge of strategy, ensuring that everything is moving in the right direction and on the right timelines.
An efficient program manager will help create a more cohesive and successful team. Therefore when organizations are looking for applicants to lead various projects and teams, they go through a rigorous screening process to ensure the candidate has a positive effect on others as well as the company.
This guide will walk you through the Amazon Program Manager interview process, including useful tips and tricks to help you ace the interview.
The interview process is time-consuming and can last up to 4 weeks. Throughout the process, the following steps can be expected:
- Online application
- Phone-screen with a recruiter
- Phone-screen with a hiring manager
- On-site interviews
The first move is to get an interview with Amazon in the first place. You will need a strong resume and cover letter that are fitting for a Program Manager position.
Once you have all of your required documents, you can submit your application on the Amazon Career Page. You may also get recommended by an existing employee or apply via LinkedIn.
If you are chosen, a recruiter will contact you within 2 business days.
Watch the guide to Amazon Program Manager Interview
Following the acceptance of your application, you will begin your interview process with Amazon by speaking with a recruiter over the phone. They want to know how well you'll fit into the position and Amazon, so be prepared to talk about your experience and why you're a good fit. Typical behavioral and resume-related questions can be expected. The interview will last approximately 45 mins.
The recruiter will take you through the interview process. Now is the time to clear up any questions you have about the role and procedure.
What the interviewer will assess
- Your experience with product management.
- Your flexibility to fit in the profile.
- Your role-related knowledge and experience.
- Cultural fit.
- It is always helpful to conduct a quick background check on the company. Learning about Amazon and its 14 values will be useful.
- When answering questions, use the STAR method. The STAR method is a structured way of responding to a behavioral-based interview question by explaining the specific situation, task, action, and result you are describing.
- Tell me about yourself. Why do you want to leave your current job?
- What is an ideal work environment according to you?
- What are the most important skills you need to be a program manager?
- Tell me your way of dealing with customer complaints.
- How often do you feel the need to hold meetings to make sure everyone in the team is motivated and working their best?
Not sure if your resume will make the cut? Get it reviewed by an Amazon recruiter!→ Resume Review
Following the recruiter evaluation, you will be interviewed by a hiring manager and one or two other team members. You will have two 45-minute interviews, ideally via Amazon Chime.
The questions you'll be asked in this round will be similar to those you'll be asked in your onsite interviews. You should be particularly prepared to answer questions surrounding behavior, tech, and program management.
What the interviewer will assess
- Your core and technical knowledge.
- Your research about Amazon and understanding of it’s principles.
- Your potential to come up with innovative ideas in a short period of time.
- Previous projects you have worked on.
- Interviewers prefer it when candidates ask them questions. Be curious and inquisitive. Bring your own questions to the table.
- 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.
- Tell me about a time when you turned down a customer request.
- Tell me about a time when you had to drop a project.
- Tell me about your most ambitious project, why it was innovative, and what challenges you faced.
- Tell me about some challenges one can possibly face using cloud technology.
- Tell me about a time when you made a decision without having all of the information.
- Tell me about a new talent you've picked up. How long did it take you to learn it?
After you have passed the second round of interviews, you will be informed by an email and will be given a written assignment. Amazon administers this exam because applicants must have strong writing skills in order to work there.
The writing exercise asks you to answer one of two questions, which are the same for all candidates. These questions require you to share a story about your previous professional experience, just as you would in an interview in response to a behavioral question. Since it is a behavioral question, you can answer it in the same way as you would answer the oral behavioral questions.
You are typically provided with a time of 2 days to submit the assignment before your on-site interview.
The final round consists of a series of on-site interviews also known as loop interviews. Each of the 5-6 interviews lasts about an hour. You will begin with five minutes of introductions, followed by 50 minutes of the interview, and then 5 minutes for any questions you might have for your interviewer. You may find the on-site interview to be an expanded version of the phone interview. You will interact with a number of Amazon workers during the day, including product managers, technical program managers, software engineers, software development managers, a bar raiser, and the hiring manager.
An interviewer from a different business unit than the one for which you are applying to is referred to as a bar raiser. This interviewer will be more senior than the role you are applying for and will have special veto power. Their duty is not to assess your adequacy for the team, but rather to assess your suitability for Amazon. Bar raisers ensure the applicants recruited are at least as good as 50% of the existing workforce.
What the interviewer will assess
- Your knowledge of program management metrics and measurement-based strategies.
- Your ability to learn new skills.
- Capability to assess project requirements and effectively manage project scope.
- Understanding of the importance of Amazon's values, goals, principles and priorities.
- Change management is an analytical approach to dealing with changes in strategy, procedure, or tools. Change must be navigated properly by program managers in order to achieve the desired results. Make it clear to the interviewer that you are open to change.
- 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 taking on diverse projects with varying scopes, and willing to accept responsibility for your mistakes.
- While having a confident leader is vital, great Program Managers also use a data-driven approach to remove errors, introduce changes, and make improvements. Use facts and figures in the discussion to indicate that you are comfortable with numbers.
- Tell me about a time when a customer provided you with critical feedback.
- Tell me about a time when you created something for a client that they did not request.
- Tell me about a time when you worked on a project that was outside of your area of expertise.
- How well do you handle change?
- Tell me about a time when you had a straightforward solution to a complicated problem and it worked out just fine.
- Tell me about a time when you made a design decision in the face of considerable disapproval. Why did they disagree with you?
- Tell me about an experience that changed your perspective.
- What do you consider to be your biggest weakness?
- Tell me about a time when one of your team members struggled to complete a project. What did you do?
- Tell me about a time when all was going smoothly on a project, but you worked on an improvement that no one had requested. What was the difference? What made you think it was significant? How do you define success?
- How do you improvise with stakeholders?
- Tell me about a time when you pushed yourself.
- Tell me about a time you made a decision too soon and faced challenges due to that later.
- Tell me about a time when you had a disagreement and had many options for resolving it. How did you weigh your options? Which option did you choose, and why?
- Which leadership principle do you think you least resonate with?
- What is the best way to prioritize requests from various stakeholders?
- Give me an example of a time when you didn't think you'd be able to maintain your commitments.
Following the on-site interview, the interviewers will debrief together and discuss whether the team received a good signal for each of Amazon's leadership values. All of the leadership principles are important.
The majority of your evaluation will be focused on your answers to questions about leadership values. Each on-site interviewer will be assigned two leadership principles about which to question you. If any of the responses contradict any of them, it will be a red flag and will send a negative signal.
If you've done well and there's a mutual fit, you'll get an offer. Within 2 days of your on-site interview, you will be contacted by an Amazon recruiter and asked about your salary expectations.