Amazon PM Interview Cheat Sheet

Accounting for over 49% of US e-commerce, few companies can boast of having the utter brand recognition, customers and worldwide reach that a product role at Amazon can offer. Amazon hires approximately 800 to 1000 PMs across various offices, with most positions centered around Seattle, despite thousands upon thousands of applications each year.


Amazon has two separate product roles, Product Managers (PMs) and Product Managers-Technical (PMTs). As the name implies, PMTs work on more technical products like AWS and usually have computer science or engineering experience. On the other hand, PMs have a more diverse background and work across verticals.  


Amazon's hiring process is similar for both of these roles, except the PMT interview has a few more technical questions.


Key Facts

  • If you get a technical question, it's likely not going to be a programming question. Rather it will be a technical explainer or architecture questions.  
  • For PMT roles, Amazon prefers candidates with an engineering degree and for PM roles, Amazon prefers MBA graduates.
  • Amazon is famous for their 14 leadership Principles, which we talk about in the upcoming sections. Make sure to prepare stories for each of these, since it will definitely come up.

Interview Stages

Week 0

Submit your resume and get referrals.

Week 1

Initial phone screen with a recruiter.

Week 2

Two phone interviews with different managers, focused on behavioral and case questions.

Week 3

Usually, you’ll be asked to write a 1-2 page essay in response to questions like, “what is the most innovative project you’ve ever worked on?” or, “talk about an experience where you were able to simplify the lives of your customers.”

Week 4

Six 40-50 minute interviews with PMs, engineers, and a VP. Each round will center around a particular topic, such as work history,a business case study, a break-even analysis, product specs, or cultural fit. Make sure you study Amazon’s 12 leadership principles!

Interview Types

Product Design

The product design interviews, which usually encompasses 2 interviews out of all the onsite PM interviews at Amazon, is designed to test how an applicant would actually build and ship a product at Amazon. These interviews firstly test the Amazon principle of “Think Big”. Amazon is a massive company and it’s important for PMs at the company to be able to make a relevant impact upon the business through scale just as it’s important that they continue to innovate creatively, which correlates to the principle “Invent and Simplify”. Finally, the product design interviews also consider the principle “Dive Deep”; It’s important that Amazon PMs are excited about solving challenging problems within their vision and product, especially because they are working in complex spaces and markets.  

Product Design Interview Questions will typically be in the form of one very deep hypothetical “what would you build for x” with a series of follow-up questions to understand your thought process.


Your Product Design Interviewer is looking to see:

  • Did you flow smoothly and logically from one step to the next without explicitly relying on a framework?
  • Did you think of creative user groups and user needs?
  • Did you tie your product back to the company’s and product’s goals and mission? Does your product help the bottom line in addition to helping users?
  • Could you identify tradeoffs, make judgment calls, and quickly choose the features/users that were the most important?
  • Did you think of interesting, unusual, and exciting features?

Example Amazon Product Design Questions:

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  • How would you use data to build a better Kindle reading experience?
  • What would you build to improve Twitch?
  • What’s your favorite non-technical product, and how would you improve it?
  • How would you improve Amazon's advertising features for businesses?
  • What is a product you set the vision for? How did you get adoption?
  • What is a new vertical Amazon should enter? How would you validate this market?

Collaboration

Amazon recognizes the importance of disagreements in a team fostering creativity and innovation through its principle “Disagree and Commit”. The company wants PMs to be able to recognize when to challenge thoughts in a team, when to escalate disagreements, and when to move forward as a team. Moving forward requires that PMs are able to “Earn Trust”, another Amazonian principle. PMs are expected to focus on remedying mistakes rather than accusing the people involved.

This interview usually is comprised of behavioral questions and is meant to help access if you can effectively lead and inspire a product team, deal with conflict, facilitate communication, etc.

Your Collaboration Interviewer is looking to see:

  • How will you be able to handle conflict? Will you respectfully challenge decisions or passively follow?
  • Can you create excitement and rally a team behind a shared vision? Are you willing to adapt your roadmap to changing market conditions?
  • Did you come across as a humble team player? Can you earn the trust of your team members?

Example Amazon Collaboration Interview Questions:

7:03

Amazon PM's "tell me about yourself."

  • Imagine an engineer on your team wasn't meeting expectations. How would you proceed?
  • Tell me about a time when you earned the trust of a person or group?
  • Tell me about a time you failed. How did you handle it?
  • Do you work well independently? 
  • What is an example of a time when you had to take a short-term loss hoping to get a long-term gain? Did it work?

Customer Obsession

Amazon’s greatest strength is being customer obsessed and the company expects to be just as driven towards customer satisfaction, aptly naming a principle “Customer Obsession”. While the Collaboration focuses on your past experiences, the Customer Obsession is meant to assess whether you can truly understand a customer’s needs and pain points rather than merely demonstrating an effort to address these needs. This is the most important leadership principle at Amazon, and applicants should prepare for this interview appropriately.

Your Customer Obsession interviewer will be looking for:

  • Did you evaluate the product from the lens of a user, not just a PM?
  • Did you propose creative, interesting ideas? Is your plan feasible?
  • When explaining how to improve a product, did you talk about the company’s mission and goals and how the product fits in?
  • Did you have a plan to make sure that customer is satisfied? How will you measure this? Will this affect the roadmap? 

Example Amazon Customer Obsession Questions:

  • Tell me about a time when you talked to a customer and learned an interesting insight. Did you change your roadmap? If yes, how?
  • Recall a product who's customer service experience stood out to you for being exceptional. What did they do right?
  • Recall a product who's customer service experience stood out to you for being terrible. What did they do wrong?
  • Is the customer always right? Do you have an example of when this isn't the case?
  • How do you develop customer empathy?

Bar Raiser

Amazon’s famous Bar Raiser interview is designed to make sure candidates are at the quality demanded by the company independent of team needs and demands (that may be short-term regardless). A Bar Raiser interviewer is not associated with the team candidates interview for and in fact has very little knowledge or context about the role, but can veto a candidate’s hiring decision if they feel the candidate’s quality is below average. This interview tests the principles of “Are Right, A Lot” and “Insists on the Highest Standards” and is more often than not the most difficult interview a candidate will undergo.

Your Bar Raiser interviewer will be looking for:

  • Are you a fast worker who iterates continuously or detail-oriented and focused on quality? 
  • Are you a good fit as a PM in Amazon's culture? 
  • How is your intuition when thinking strategically about a market? What about when thinking about tactical product decisions?
  • Do you always need data to make decisions? 
  • Will you be good at managing a project and ensuring it gets delivered?
  • How will you ensure a high quality bar?
  • Do you have a growth mindset?

Example Amazon Bar Raiser Questions:

  • Tell me about a time you had to trust your gut when making a decision? Were you comfortable making that decision? How did it play out?
  • What do you do when you don't have enough data?
  • How do you stay organized?
  • Tell me about the best customer experience you've shipped.
  • Do you regret any product decisions you made? Is there a product you worked on that you still think about how you could have improved?
  • If you had to cut one of Amazon's products, what would it be?
  • Name a company Amazon should acquire.

Created with the help of 11 current and former Amazon PMs, including 5 L7 Principal PMs and 3 L8 Product Directors

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Amazon Company Level Strategic Overview & Monthly Updated Most Common PM Interview Questions

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In our Flagship Amazon PM Interview course, you will start off by learning Amazon’s Ten Year Strategy from insiders so you can begin to think from the perspective of an Amazon exec. We’ll go deep on hot product areas like Retail, Prime Studios, Advertising, AWS, Hardware, Alexa, and more!

Then, we will give you a refresher on the art of interviewing covering everything from whiteboarding to body language. We’ll go over what types of strategy, product, technical, and behavioral questions you are most likely to get asked at Amazon and then walk you through the concrete things that Amazon interviewers are taught to look for in your response for each question type. We’ll also show you tons of mock interview examples of 10 out of 10 answers with expert interviewer commentary along the way.

Finally, we will share a monthly updated list of interview questions that our team members and past customers have actually gotten during their recent Amazon PM interviews. With this course, you can take luck out of the equation for getting your dream PM job at Amazon!

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I recommend this course to all candidates prepping for a PM interview.

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Product Alliance's Hacking the Interview Course features industry PMs teaching you how to think strategically and answer questions with laser precision.

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It’s uncanny how many of the questions covered in this course I got asked during my interviews with Google, Microsoft, and Amazon.

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