Question: Tell me about something innovative you have done in the past? Why was it innovative? Why did you do it?
Answer: The software I am working with was built with the legacy system, without a full understanding of the legacy data. It caused problems due to the calculations of legacy data. Much of the data is incompatible with the current system. An old invoice coming in on the new system has different figures.

Q: What did you do?
A: I ripped the old calculations out and has two sets of calculations.

Q: What was the problem it was solving?
A: Any code accessing those calculations were doing so with if statements and such. So I isolated all that code into isolated blocks of logic.

Q: What was innovative about it?
A: Simplified existing codebase considerably.

Q: How do you know that your applications were correct.
A: I used unit tests and ran the databases side by side.

Analysis

Competency asserted: Learn and Be Curious
Job title: Software Development Engineer (SDE II)
Interviewer role: Software Development Engineer (SDE II)

Vote: 👎

The interviewer was confused by the answers of the candidate and struggled to take notes. He probed the candidate with “What was innovative about it?”. But didn’t get much data out of it.

When it comes to the “Learn and Be Curious” leadership principle, you can literally come up with any story where you learned something. It doesn’t even need to be related to work, and that is the beauty of it. Maybe it’s a side hobby; perhaps you had to learn how to take apart your dishwasher to fix it yourself (this was one of my stories when I interviewed at Amazon!), a book you read to solve a specific problem, etc.

Learnings

Structure your answer using the STAR approach and prepare for the behavioral interview questions. Don’t just take a chance and hope to magically come up with the best story on your interview day.

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