9 Amazon behavioral interview tips

In this post, we will go over a few tips to nail the Amazon behavioral interview. See our other post to understand how to prepare for the behavioral questions.

Prepare your answers upfront

You have to come prepared for your interview. We explain in our other post how to prepare for Amazon behavioral questions.

Practice and rehearse often

Ask a friend to randomly pickup up a question or Leadership Principle. Try to adapt and model your stories for different LPs. Add a cross next to a Leadership Principle once practiced to make sure you go over all of them. Rehearse regularly.

Be specific

Some candidates give high-level answers.

“When I work on a bug, I usually do this and this.”
“When I have a different opinion from the other team members, I do this and this.”

This results in less time for the rest of the interview (like coding). The interviewer needs a concrete example, a story based on your own experience that can be discussed in detail.

Don’t rely on your notes during the interview

First, ask your recruiter if you will be allowed to bring your notes during the on-site interview.

An interview is not a knowledge test. I’ve seen candidates bringing notes. I personally don’t mind. But I would discourage this. Why?

I interviewed a candidate who had brought her notes at the interview. She was notably nervous. She couldn’t find the page/note she was looking for. She started panicking. She started reading her notes out loud as she couldn’t seem to remember anything.

Better be safe than sorry: don’t rely on your notes. Practice without any notes. The conversation will be more fluid and your interviewer will be more engaged. Remember, if anything, it’s a discussion.

Clarifying questions

When you practice for your behavioral interview questions at Amazon, make sure to ask your mock interviewer to ask clarifying questions while you are giving your answers. And not only afterward as follow up questions.

Our mock interviewers at mocki.co have different styles and will naturally test you on this.

I candidate I interviewed online via mocki.co confessed after the mock interview: “I didn’t expect you to ask questions before I had given you my full answer. It disrupted my flow.”

Your interviewer may or may not do the same thing. As an interviewer, I ask questions when something is not clear to me. I then ask probing questions to get into more details.

Remain positive

How do you react when you are frustrated? How do you react to someone that doesn’t seem to understand what you are trying to convey?

I remember this one candidate: I asked that candidate to explain a c++ concept he just had mentioned (glibc). I asked him to repeat as I did not hear him properly. He took offense and started patronizing me while giving his explanation. Increasing the tone of his voice and laughing. I seized this opportunity to test him further. The candidate became more and more impatient, to the point he became nearly rude. I stopped the conversation, thanked him for his explanation and moved on.

Remain in a positive mindset. Be personable, Earn the Trust of your interviewers.

Engage your interviewer

As a candidate, it is hard to gauge the technical level of the interviewer in front of you. Mainly during a phone screen. Engage your interviewer. if you suspect that they may be lost in your explanation, ask him/her. If you come up with acronyms and concepts, explain them briefly.

“I” is the distinction of “We”

Use “I” and not “we” when answering a behavioral question. Don’t talk as “we” constantly. Advocate for yourself, don’t let your team take credit for what you did.

What’s with this title?

I happened to have seen a similar sentence in a satellite location of the Vancouver Art Gallery. I liked how it sounded and figured it would be catchy enough to remember it.

Summarize the Behavioral Question out loud

Repeat the behavioral question that was asked from you out loud. This is the best way to ensure that you understood it properly and the interviewer should tell you otherwise.

Wrap-up

Behavioral questions at Amazon requires preparation. Practice makes perfect. If you want to receive truthful feedback before a real interview, have a mock interview on Mocki.co.

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