How to interview

This note is used to record the useful points in the book “How to Interview at Amazon for International Professionals: Learn the American Interview Style and the Amazon Leadership Principles“. I learned the book from this link, which is the tutorial to the behavioral questions in Amazon Interview.

The titiles with asterisk mean that there are good formula and examples there. And these chapter demand more attention.

Chapter 3. American Interview Style

Selling yourself is an important concept, and from this, we can go further than selling yourself: we can always answer more than expected to interview’s questions.

Job interviews in the United States require selling yourself. “Selling yourself” is the process of talking openly, clearly, and straightforwardly about your strengths and explicitly stating how they can help the company.

For example, saying “I studied CS at Stanford” is telling us one of your strengths – you know this subject, computer science – but the statement alone doesn’t explain how your skills will help the company. You can say “I studied CS at Stanford, and I’m an excellent Python programmer.” That’s better than just saying you know CS, because CS is a pretty broad subject. Python is a specific skill (and you would only say this if you know the job you’re applying for calls for Python).

You can say, “Currently I work at X, which is an e-commerce platform for sports equipment. We have $400m in revenue.”

Use “I” not “we”

In your answers you should focus on what you’ve done as an individual, not as part of a group or team.

You should talk about how you influenced change, solved problems, or started new initiatives - whatever you’ve done as part of your past jobs.

Quantify your answers

Attach numbers to your experience to be more persuasive in selling yourself. Providing this data to the interviewer is good because it shoows that you attach business outcomes to your efforts.

Keep your answers short

Americans value efficiency and time management. Avoid any behavior that may make the interviewers think they are wasting their time.

  • Give quick answers – one minute or less. Up to two minutes for a complicated question.

  • Give the most important information at the very beginning of your answer.

  • Give simple answers, not heavy on detail or background.

Formal English

Last month we sent you a form asking if you were interested in our services, but we haven’t heard back from you. => We would like to follow up with you regarding our correspondence dated June 25th. We would truly appreciate receiving your reply regarding your interests in our services.

Chapter 5. Small Talk

Practice asking questions

here are the topics that we can ask questions about during small talk

  • work

    • How long have you worked at ___ ?
    • What do you think of the company?
    • Have you had a busy week?
  • Books or articles

    Focus on new ones in your industry or ones that are popular now with professionals

    • Did you read the article about ___ this morning?
    • I raed the new biography of Steve Jobs. Have you read it?
  • News

    Anything happending in the news can be a good topic but avoid politics.

    • Have you been watching the Olympics?
    • Did you see the news about the flood in Texas?
  • Travel

    • Have you ever been to ___ ?
    • Are you planning to travel this Christmas/summer?
  • Tech stuff

    New gadgets, like phones, computers, apps, applications, etc. There may be something new that everyone in your industry is using.

    Is the company using kubernetes?

  • Random

    I see you have a Starbucks downstarts. Do you like their coffee?

Practice answering questions

  • Greetings and Introduction

    Q: how are you today?
    A: Great, thanks, how are you?
  • Beverage

    Q: May I get you soemthing to drink?
    A: Oh, no, I'm fine. Thank you. / No thank you.
  • Directions/Commute

    Q: Did you have any trouble finding your office?
    A: No, it was pretty easy and there wasn't much traffic.
  • Whether

    Q: Isn't this great whether we're having?
    A: yes, i love spring.
    Q: Isn't this terrible weather we're having?
    A: Yes, it won't stop raining. I hope it chagnes soon.
  • Weekend

    Q: Did you have a nice weekend?
    A: Yes, it was very relaxing. What about yours?

Topics for small talk out of the office

  • The weather

    • Is it always so hot in the summer here?
    • Does it rain a lot here?
    • Beautiful day, isn’t it?
    • Can you believe all of this rain we’ve been having?
  • The food or drink

    • Have tried the cabbage rolls?
    • Would you like a napkin?
    • Are you enjoying yourself?
    • It looks like you could use another drink.
    • Would you like another beer?
    • Pretty nice place, huh?
  • Hobbies

    • What do you do in your free time?

    • Do you play tennis?

  • Location

    • Where are you from?
    • How do you like ___?
    • Have you been living here long?
    • What is there to do in your free time here?
  • Travel

    • Have you been to China?
    • Do you have a trip planned? (if it’s near the holidays)

Advanced Small Talk at Your Amazon Interview

Actually this rule applies to all the companies.

  • Prepare Amazon-related topics for small talk

    starting off the interview with a little story or a question about something Amazon related.

Chapter 6. Techniques for Stalling in the Interview

Stop using filler words, like “um”, “well”, “ah”. That sounds silly and unprofessional.

  • “That’s a great question. Let me think about that.”

  • Repeat the question

    Q: Why do you want to work at __?
    A: Ah, you'd like to know why I want to work here. Okay.
    Q: Where do you see yourself in five years?
    A: In five years, I'd like to be ...
  • Ask them to repeat or rephrase the question - don’t use this more than once beacause it will look like you’re not paying attention.

Chapter 7. Talking About Your Strengths

Here are the points that we can use our core messgaes in:

  • Tell me about yourself.
  • Tell me about your background
  • Walk me through your resume
  • What are your strenghs
  • Why should we hire you
  • Why do you want to work at Amazon
  • Why do you want this job
  • what are the responsibilities of your dcdurrent job?

Chapter 8. Add Data to Your answers

Chapter 9. Introductory/Basic Questions

Formula for “Tell me about yourself”

The question might be asked in variation version: “Walk me through your resume”, “Tell me about your background”, “Guve me some idea of who you are”. The answer should be short [Americans have short attention spans. They won’t listen if the talk is too long.] and focused on the job.

  • Overview

    I’m an innovative software engineer with twenty years of experience managing all aspects of the development process for small to medium-sized companies.

  • Experience

    Good example

    My last job was at ___, where I was in charge of teh West Coast marketing team. We designed customer attraction and retention plans beginning from the market research stage. Our 2017 goal was a 2% revenue increase over 2016 and we got 3%.

    This part of the answer emphasizes relevant experience and gives proof of performance using numbers.

  • Why

    why are you here applying for their job/why should they hire you. You need to

    • tell them you want this job

    • tell them hwy you want it in a way that shows how you can help them

    • include what they will get out of it, not what you will get out of it


    I’d love this positon as Senior Project Manageer because I know I have the kills to manage complicated projects and I’d like to do that for your company.