One Weird Amazon Interview Tip

17 Feb

In the past few months James has been doing a lot of interview loops to try and work up to international trips. HR mistakenly asked him to go on a recruiting trip to Tel Aviv but it turned out he didn’t have enough in-person interviews to qualify, which was disappointing because it would have been awesome. Though James did find out that he is considered a very accurate interviewer, according to whatever metric HR uses to evaluate them.

But anyway here are some random bits of information that I haven’t seen anywhere else. They’re not earth-shattering, but with the number of hits this blog gets for Amazon interviews maybe they will help someone. First, the most useful one:

Buy This Book

Cracking the Coding Interview: 150 Programming Questions and Solutions.

There’s a reason it’s #1 in Software Development and has a whole bunch of glowing reviews on Amazon. James knows a lot of interviewers who actually use questions directly from it, and even if yours don’t he said it’s still extremely solid for interview preparation. Don’t handicap yourself by not going through this book – it’s so useful it’s almost cheating.

Bring a Notepad In Case You Get a Tiny Whiteboard

Oddly specific, I know. Most rooms have large, wall-length boards but occasionally only small whiteboards are available, and James said this has flustered a few candidates. If they need to keep erasing as you go to make more room they lose the time it takes to erase everything and can’t refer back to what they’ve already written.

So for the tiny minority of people who get a small whiteboard, a notebook comes in really handy. Just write the code in there then tear it out and give it to the interviewer afterwards. No frantic erasing, no muss, no fuss.

Leadership Principles

Read them. It’s not a bullshit thing, like “oh we want a motivated, self-starting people person” – the interviewers actually do look for these qualities. And at performance review time they are evaluated on how well they meet these qualities.

One Response to “One Weird Amazon Interview Tip”


  1. The Amazon Interview Process | Diary of a Pampered Housewife - February 17, 2014

    […] I posted a couple of random interview tips here. […]

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