Amazon Software Engineer Interview Guide
Breaking into FAANG companies for tech roles is all about preparation and practice. From getting a resume review for landing an interview call to preparing for the interview to land the offer, it can be a lengthy but rewarding process if you accept the offer. Joining Amazon as a Software Engineer is a dream for many tech candidates, and this FAANG interview guide is to help you realize that dream! 🤩
In this guide to cracking Amazon Software Engineer interviews, we’ve covered the following:
- About The Role
- Amazon Interview Process and Timeline
- HR Interview + Example Questions
- Online Assessment
- Technical Phone Screen + Example Questions
- Onsite Interviews + Example Questions
About The Role 👩💻
Amazon SDEs specialize in developing software systems for customers. They collect requirements, identify risks, and work on consumer impact with various teams. A typical day in the life of an Amazon SDE consists of coding, code reviewing, debugging, replying to emails, and attending meetings within and across teams.
According to levels.fyi, entry-level (L4) software engineers at Amazon make a salary of about $166k each year. Their roles progress further to L5 (SDE II), L6 (Senior SDE), L7 (Principal SDE), L8 (Senior Principal SDE), and L9 (Distinguished SDE) as they move up the ladder.
Amazon Interview Process and Timeline ⏳
The Amazon interview process for software engineers consists of 6–7 interviews. The interview timeline will differ based on your location and the time of the year you’ve applied.
Here’s an overview of each of the interview rounds:
- HR Interview: Like an HR interview for every other FAANG company, this call will mainly focus on better understanding your profile and compatibility for the role. Once your resume is shortlisted, a recruiter or HR from Amazon will reach out to you via phone to discuss your application further.
- Online Assessments: Online Assessments are a crucial part of the Amazon hiring process. Candidates complete three online assessments, and each of them is more or less similar to the other.
- Technical Phone Screen: Depending on how you perform in the online assessments, you’ll be invited for a technical phone screen. It is a 45–60 minute round where candidates are tested on coding, problem-solving, data structures and algorithms(DSA), and dynamic programming.
- Onsite Interviews: The onsite interviews have around 4–5 rounds, lasting approximately 60 minutes each. Out of these, 3–4 of them will assess your coding, debugging, DSA, and system design knowledge. At the same time, one of them will be a behavioral interview called the “Bar Raiser” round, which will consist of interview questions around the Amazon Leadership Principles.
HR Interview + Example Questions (30 minutes) 📱
The HR interview is the first round of the Amazon software engineer interview process. It will be a brief 30-minute call with HR to understand your interests and skills for the role. It is important to note that through the Amazon recruitment process, each stage of the interview will focus heavily on Amazon leadership principles. When preparing for any of the interviews, you must exhibit the qualities that Amazonians possess and tie them with their leadership principles to communicate that you understand the company’s culture and goals.
Must Read: Amazon Behavioral Interview Questions Guide
Here are a few example questions to practice for the HR interview:
- Tell me a little about yourself.
- Why do you want to work at Amazon?
- What makes you the best candidate for this role?
- Tell me about one of the accomplishments you’re most proud of.
- What are your short-term and long-term goals?
Once you clear the HR interview, they will further share an online assessment with you as the next stage of the hiring process.
Online Assessment (3 assessments) 💻
For the Amazon Software Engineer interview process, candidates must undergo three online assessments before moving to the technical phone screen. The online tests will differ depending on whether you’ve applied for an entry-level role or a higher position.
You will take the online assessment in three parts for entry-level roles, each with a 5-day deadline. Regardless of how you perform in any one of the OAs, you will still receive all three of them, i.e., whether or not you receive a part of the online assessment does not depend on your performance in any of the other parts.
Amazon Online Assessment 1 (Code Debugging)
- Questions: 7
- Time: 20 minutes
- Language: C, C++, and Java
In this assessment, you will be given a problem and a section of code(solution). The solution will contain bugs that you need to identify. The crucial thing to keep in mind for this round would be timing. With 7 questions, you will get around 2–3 minutes to solve each question. Focus on running the code and identifying the bug through the output rather than directly looking at the solution. Finishing all questions within the time limit is what is most important for this round.
Amazon Online Assessment 2 (Coding and Workstyles)
Part 1: Coding
- Questions: 2
- Time: 70 minutes
The second OA has two sections: Coding and Workstyles Assessments. For the coding round, you’ll have two questions that focus on Data Structures and Algorithms. The two questions could be about anything: arrays, stacks, graphs, trees, linked lists, and more. Focus on finding the optimal solution to these questions.
To prepare for the coding part, practice questions from Leetcode, HackerRank, and other websites for DSA. The key to cracking this round is writing neat and readable code and conveying you know how to solve the problem even if you have any failed edge cases. This means adding comments to your code, especially if you have failed test cases. If you’re close to the optimal solution but couldn’t complete the questions to the expectations within time, add comments so your reviewer is aware you know how to solve it otherwise. This will make a significant difference in your clearing this round.
Part 2: Workstyles
- Time: 10–20 minutes
The Workstyles assessment is mainly to understand your fit for the role. This will be more like a survey form where you’ll be asked questions about the position, your style of working, and how you would deal with a particular situation. Make sure you’ve checked the Amazon Leadership Principles to succeed in this round.
Amazon Online Assessment 3 (SDE Work Simulation)
- Time: 120 minutes
This assessment is meant to give new grads an idea of what a day in the life of an Amazon SDE looks like. For this assessment, candidates are given questions with options on how they would respond or rate the already stated responses to the questions. In solving these questions, their virtual team members will prompt them via emails or messages to select the best way to deal with a situation besides several internal wikis, road maps, and code snippets. These questions also judge the candidate’s fit based on the Amazon Leadership Principles, so make sure you’ve understood them to ace this round.
Technical Phone Screen + Example Questions (45–60 minutes) 👨💻
If you’ve cleared the online assessments, the next step in the hiring process is the technical phone screen, which will last for about 45–60 minutes. This phone screen will be with one of your team members and consist of technical and behavioral questions based on the leadership principles. The technical phone screen takes place on Amazon Chime over a video call.
The technical questions for the phone screen are generally structured around DSA and solved over a collaborative editor like collabedit. At some point in the interview process, your recruiter will share prep material with you, including a list of all the software development topics that interviewers will focus upon. Make sure you prepare well for these topics before the technical phone screen. One thing to note is that the collaborative editor may not have an autocomplete feature for syntax, so you must practice keeping in mind the features that will not be available.
Here are a few example questions for the technical phone screen round you can practice:
- Given an array of integers, return the integer that appears odd number of times (Solution)
- Given the integer target, return the minimum number of moves required (i.e., the minimum numMoves) to reach the destination (Solution)
- You are given an array prerequisites where prerequisites[i] = [ai, bi] indicates that you must take course bi first if you want to take course ai. Return the ordering of courses you should take to finish all courses. If there are many valid answers, return any of them. If it is impossible to finish all courses, return an empty array (Solution)
- Given the array nums after the possible rotation and an integer target, return the index of target if it is in nums, or -1 if it is not in nums (Solution)
- There is an integer array nums sorted in non-decreasing order (not necessarily with distinctvalues). Given the array nums after the rotation and an integer target, return true if target is in nums, or false if it is not in nums (Solution)
Another part of the technical phone screen will focus mainly on behavioral questions. Like all other rounds, these will focus heavily upon the Amazon Leadership Principles, so have stories ready from your professional experience aligning with these principles.
Here are some example technical phone screen behavioral questions for your practice:
- Tell me about a time when you disagreed with your boss.
- Tell me about a time when you were faced with a problem with many possible solutions. What was the problem, and how did you determine the course of action? What was the outcome of the action?
- When did you take a risk, make a mistake, or fail? How did you respond to it? How did you grow from that experience?
- Tell me of an occasion when you displayed customer obsession and exceeded expectations.
- How do you handle work pressure?
Onsite Interviews + Example Questions (4–5 interviews, 60 minutes each) 🤝
There will be 4–5 onsite interviews after you clear the technical phone screen. Candidates spend a day at one of the Amazon offices for these rounds and meet with interviewers across company levels, i.e., hiring managers, team members, managers, and senior executives.
Out of all onsite interviews, 3–4 will mainly focus on coding questions, i.e., data structures & algorithms, computer science fundamentals, and system design questions. Candidates are expected to solve the coding questions on a whiteboard, so make sure you practice keeping this in mind. One interview will also be with an Amazon “Bar Raiser”, basically someone who works at Amazon but is not associated with the team you’re joining, that assesses a candidate’s behavioral fit around the leadership principles along with other technical questions.
All interviews at Amazon will be 35–40 mins technical and 15–20 mins around the leadership principles, so it is important to ace both of them to clear a round.
It is important to note that if you’re interviewing for entry-level roles, there might not be much focus on system design questions, which changes as you appear for more senior-level positions.
Here are a few examples of Amazon software engineer interview questions you can practice to prep for onsite coding interviews:
- Given an array of intervals where intervals[i] = [starti, endi], merge all overlapping intervals, and return an array of the non-overlapping intervals that cover all the intervals in the input (Solution)
- Given the roots of two binary trees p and q, write a function to check if they are the same or not (Solution)
- Given the head of a linked list, rotate the list to the right by k places (Solution)
- Given a m x n grid filled with non-negative numbers, find a path from top left to bottom right, which minimizes the sum of all numbers along its path (Solution)
- Given the integer array cardPoints and the integer k, return the maximum score you can obtain (Solution)
- Given a circular integer array nums of length n, return the maximum possible sum of a non-empty subarray of nums (Solution)
- Given an M × N matrix of non-negative integers where each cell contains a coin of some denomination, collect the maximum value of coins by traversing the grid (Solution)
- You are given a rows x cols matrix grid representing a field of cherries where grid[i][j]represents the number of cherries that you can collect from the (i, j) cell. Return the maximum number of cherries collection using both robots by following certain rules (Solution)
- Given a string s and a dictionary of strings wordDict, return true if s can be segmented into a space-separated sequence of one or more dictionary words (Solution)
- You are given an array of k linked-lists lists, each linked-list is sorted in ascending order. Merge all the linked-lists into one sorted linked-list and return it (Solution)
As shared by Amazon, a few tips to ace the coding rounds are:
- Write maintainable, readable, reusable, and understandable code.
- Define the problem by asking relevant clarifying questions.
- Use optimal data structures and algorithms to solve any given problem.
- Identify potential shortcomings and discuss tradeoffs with different data structures and algorithms.
- Communicate during the interviews and justify why you used the selected data structures and algorithms.
- Demonstrate a solid grasp of runtime and space complexity tradeoffs, even if not perfectly accurate O(n) syntax.
- Consider additional factors (e.g., developer effort, team composition) beyond the primary problem.
To practice for system design questions, here are a few examples:
- How would you design a warehouse system for Amazon.com?
- How would you create Amazon.com so it can handle 10x more traffic than today?
- How would you design Amazon.com’s database (customers, orders, products, etc.)?
- Design an email sender that can send 100,000,000 emails. You have five machines. How could you do it efficiently?
- How would you go about designing the e-commerce website using microservices? How will you handle transactions?
Here are a few tips to ace system design questions if asked in the interview:
- Practice, practice, practice. One key to solving system design questions effortlessly is to practice as many of them as possible. The more questions you solve before the interview, the more confident you’ll feel about using different approaches.
- Brush up your core concepts of system design before the interview. Focus on abstraction, caching, load balancing, proxies, concurrency, database, network, etc., while solving hands-on real-time system design problems.
- Ask clarifying questions. During the interviews, the last thing you want to do is jump directly to the solution. Understand the problem better by asking questions before you start solving it.
- Communicate your assumptions. Don’t just assume something without explaining why you thought of it. Validate your assumptions to ensure your interviewers understand your thought process behind the actions.
Bar Raiser Interviews (Behavioral Round)
One of the rounds in the onsite interviews will be conducted by a “bar raiser.” A bar raiser is an Amazonian who does not work in the team you’re joining and focuses on assessing your fit for the company based on specific parameters around leadership qualities, besides the other technical questions.
Amazon’s leadership principles form the core of all interview rounds you’ll go through. To succeed in the interview process, you’ll need to demonstrate a solid understanding of these 16 principles.
Here are a few example bar raiser interview questions for your practice:
- Describe an instance when you dealt with a demanding customer and how you arrived at a solution to resolve a fundamental problem.
- How do you analyze risk? Describe a time when you took a chance that paid off.
- Tell me about a time when you did not effectively manage your project and something did not get completed on time.
- Give me an example of a time when you were 75% through a project and had to pivot the strategy — how were you able to make that into a success story?
- How do you think [a particular product/service] at Amazon can be improved?
Nailing the coding and behavioral rounds for the Amazon hiring process is very important to landing an offer. To remind you again, do not undermine the behavioral questions and the Amazon leadership principles to succeed in your interviews.
Once you’ve completed the interviews, send a thank-you note to your recruiter/hiring manager/interviewer(s) and sit back and relax until you hear back from them. If you don’t hear about your interview results, don’t forget to follow up with your point of contact.
Still not confident about your interview prep? Schedule a mock interview NOW with an Amazonian/FAANG mentor and set yourself up for success! 🤩