Thinking about your future career? Here are some tips we use when hiring people at Amazon
Summer is the time many of us take our first jobs. And as you get older, you start to think about what kind of work you want (and don't want) to do in the future. No matter what the career path or job description, being able to interview with confidence is a skill that will serve you for life.
Taking some time to practice interviewing is not only smart, it can also be a rewarding exercise in thinking about your personality and the things that make you special. The following concepts can help you get started—they’re key during interviews at Amazon, but they can be applied toward nearly any goal you want to pursue.
Amazon employees use the company's Leadership Principles every day, whether we're discussing ideas for new projects or deciding on the best approach to solving a problem. It’s just one of the things that makes Amazon peculiar. Consider your own successes and failures in relation to these principles. What are specific examples that showcase your expertise and demonstrate how you’ve taken risks, succeeded, failed, and grown in the process? Keep in mind, some of Amazon’s most successful programs have risen from the ashes of failed projects. Failure is a necessary part of innovation—it’s not optional.
At Amazon, interviews are rooted in behavior-based questions about past situations or challenges you’ve faced and how you handled them, using Leadership Principles to guide the discussion. Here are some examples:
- Tell me about a time when you were faced with a problem that had a number of possible solutions. What was the problem, and how did you determine the course of action? What was the outcome of that choice?
- When did you take a risk, make a mistake, or fail? How did you respond, and how did you grow from that experience?
- Describe a time you took the lead on a project.
- What did you do when you needed to motivate a group of individuals or promote collaboration on a particular project?
- How have you leveraged data to develop a strategy?
The STAR method
STAR is a structured way of responding to a behavior-based interview question by discussing the specific situation, task, action, and result of what you're describing. Here’s what it looks like:
SITUATION: Describe the situation that you were in, or the task that you needed to accomplish. Give enough detail for the interviewer to understand the complexities of the situation. This example can be from a previous job, school project, volunteer activity, or any relevant event.
TASK: What goal were you working toward?
ACTION: Describe the actions you took to address the situation with an appropriate amount of detail, and keep the focus on you. What specific steps did you take? What was your particular contribution?
RESULT: Describe the outcome of your actions, and don’t be shy about taking credit for your behavior. What happened? How did the event end? What did you accomplish? What did you learn? Provide examples using metrics or data if applicable.
Now it's time to practice
It can be hard to come up with answers to questions like these right off the bat. That's why it makes sense to think through some possible answers first, and then try them out with a friend or family member. The more you practice, the more comfortable and confident you will be when the time comes to do a real interview.
Here are some questions you can use at home. Have your "interviewer" introduce him or herself first and ask you something easy first, like how your day is going. Then try out one of the questions below. You'll be a pro in no time!
- Tell me about a time you didn’t receive a test grade that you wanted. How did you handle the situation? What did you learn from the experience? How did the experience change the way you prepared for the next test?
- Tell me about a project you worked on with a group. What was the project? What was your role? How did it turn out? Is there anything you would have done differently?
- Tell me about a time you had a disagreement or conflict (with a classmate, friend, teammate). What was the disagreement or conflict? What did you do to address the conflict? How did it turn out?
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