During the interview process, big tech companies like Amazon want to determine if you are a good fit for the company. This means that recruiters will test your technical prowess with coding challenges, and they will also assess you through behavioral interviews.
One of the most frequently asked behavioral interview questions is “Why do you want to work at Amazon?”. While it might seem like a straightforward question, a lot of people struggle to answer it, even if they are very eager about a position at Amazon.
In this article, we will discuss how to answer this tricky Amazon interview question. We will discuss how to construct an impressive answer and walk through sample answers based on Amazon’s leadership principles.
This guide at a glance:
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Many software engineers want to work at Amazon for its competitive salaries and benefits. But when Amazon recruiters or hiring managers ask “Why Amazon?”, they are looking to see what else compels you to join their teams.
At this point in the hiring process, interviewers already know about your work experience. Instead, this is a chance for them to assess if you are a fit for their culture and if you will stick around for the long-haul.
In other words, the “Why Amazon” interview question is assessing your motivations.
That’s why it is better to answer this question emotionally. With an emotional answer, you have the chance to discuss your goals and values and goals as they pertain to Amazon’s principles. According to the recruitment slogans and goals set forth by Jeff Bezos (now former CEO), Amazon is looking for people who have an investment in the company beyond just a paycheck.
So, what makes a good response to this question? While there is no one right answer, a good response should be as specific as possible to Amazon and your experiences. You could touch on these topics:
Note: Your response should not be interchangeable with other companies. For example, if you are also interviewing at Microsoft, your “Why Microsoft” answer should be about Microsoft’s values, missions, and products. This job interview question is not a one-size-fits-all situation, unlike many other behavioral questions.
Before you construct your answer to the “Why Amazon” question, it’s important to align your response with Amazon’s 14 leadership principles. A good answer will fit with Amazon’s values and mission. Obviously, you cannot mention every leadership principle in your response, but addressing two of three indirectly will help you stand out.
Important: The Amazon onsite interviews will include a Bar Raiser interview (this is also true of virtual interviews during the COVID pandemic). This is an objective, third-party interviewer who evaluates you on these Leadership Principles. They have complete veto power over whether or not you will be hired.
Here are the 14 values that you be evaluated on:
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As I mentioned, a good answer should be specific to Amazon. It should capture an emotional response that is rooted in Amazon’s leadership principles, values, and products. Let’s take a look at a few sample answers to the “Why Amazon” questions. I will outline why each are a good response.
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I want to work at Amazon for three main reasons. First, I admire that Amazon values customer obsession. I believe that putting the customer first leads to better product and software. I am eager to design products that meet real human needs, and I like that Amazon puts that first. For example, I value that AWS is accessible at an enterprise and personal level so that analytics are available to anyone.
Secondly, a lot of my career has been devoted to creative applications of machine learning, which you can see throughout my resume. I am interested in Amazon’s use of machine learning and its unique position in the market. In my last role, I was always seeking new ways to implement ML technologies but felt that the culture didn’t make space for that. That’s why this team excites me. They are looking for new collaborative ideas.
Lastly, a former co-worker now serves as a Product Manager at Amazon. She has told me all about the ongoing learning opportunities she had there, and I am eager to be immersed in a workspace that values my learning and development.
This is a great answer to the “Why Amazon” question. It is specific to Amazon and its products. It also naturally integrates three leadership principles: Customer Obsession, Think Big, and Learn and Be Curious.
This response is also emotional and personal: the respondent uses emotion-based adjectives like “excites” and mentions several personal experiences with Amazon as a company.
Lastly, this answer makes the respondent seem experienced and capable without being arrogant. Their response doesn’t focus too much on themselves, yet they naturally integrate that they have relevant experience.
I am interested in working at Amazon because I want to help this division of Alexa develop new business opportunities in the realm of voice recognition. This is a topic that excites me on a personal and professional level. In fact, I did my Master’s research thesis on new uses of Big Data in voice recognition software. That’s why I was drawn to this role specifically.
More broadly, I am attracted to Amazon’s culture of diving deep and taking ownership. I see a lot of value in taking projects seriously and trying to find clever ways to improve results as a team. These are some of the values I implement in my work, and I’d like to join a team that is already reaching for those standards.
I think that Amazon is at a very unique and interesting place in the market, and the resources Amazon has makes it possible to explore ideas with a good chance of success. Voice recognition is huge right now, but Amazon offers tools and metrics that make it unique, as compared to other big names, which draws me to the company.
This is a good answer to the “Why Amazon” question. It is specific to the role and job description. It also aligns the respondent’s experiences with the values that drive those goals.
The respondent also expresses broad ideas about Amazon as a company, showing that they are already meeting their leadership principles. The respondent also focuses on the team aspect of Amazon and explains that they want to collaborate.
Lastly, this answer demonstrates that the respondent is aware of the market. They’re not just there to get the job done. They are already thinking about the big picture.
Now that we’ve seen two good examples, let’s discuss some common mistakes that candidates make with the “Why Amazon?” question. In general, poorly constructed answers are not specific and focus on past experiences rather than values and goals.
You should now have a good idea what makes a strong answer and what makes a poor answer. So, how do you prepare your own? It’s simpler than you may think.
Start by researching Amazon as a company. Brainstorm some specific ideas.
Then look at the job description.
Start drafting a 2-3 paragraph response that captures your motivations. Try free-writing first, or just record yourself talking. Then, once you get the basics down, you can go add more specificity. Be sure to name a few leadership principles and a few of Amazon’s products. Add personal touches and emotional verbs (such as “excite”, “thrill”, “eager”, “motivate”).
It is recommended to create a basic outline with keywords to make this easier to remember. That way, if you’re doing a virtual interview, you can have a sticky note with the main points you want to address.
Let’s reuse our sample answer #1 from above with this brainstorm process. This should give you an idea of how you get from the “Why Amazon” question to a solid, thoughtful response.
Now that you have your outline it’s time to practice, practice, practice until it feels natural. After all, when you’re doing the actual interview, you won’t be reading a script. Instead, you should memorize the main points, facts, and words you want to mention in your response.
Don’t think you can wing this question on the spot. Behavioral interviews are very important and surprisingly challenging.
So, if you are looking for a place to construct answers and get tons of practice, check out Educative’s course Grokking the Behavioral Interview.
You’ll be able to use Educative’s video recording widget to record yourself answering questions and assess your performance. By the time you’ve completed the course, you’ll be able to answer any behavioral question that comes your way with confidence.
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