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How to prepare for Amazon Behavioral Interview?

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Junior SWE at Taro Community8 days ago

I've looked at the leadership principles. But it's a bit overwhelming the number of questions that can be asked. I dont want to be caught like a deer in headlights when I'm asked a question. But it also doesnt seem practical to prepare every question.

I'd love to know people's preparation strategy. Are you preparing 5-10 stories and then tagging them to different principles? if so what kinds of stories should I be preparing? i.e. what are the broad topics of each story?

Or Maybe are you preparing 1 different story for each leadership value?

Also If I'm asked "Who was your most difficult customer?" how would I answer this if I'm just a junior and have never dealt with customers first hand? or similar where I'm just like i've never been in this situation

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    Staff Eng @ Google, Ex-Meta SWE, Ex-Amazon SDM/SDE
    7 days ago

    You need to have the best stories, that demonstrate you at your best, prepared. Do not game it. Do not over prepare trying to have a situation for every LP. We could edit the list, like Frugality practically never gets asked, but it doesn’t matter. If you try to figure out a “good story” for every LP, you’re going to try to guess which LP or LPs they are after with each question, then you’ll rattle off your prepared story. And they likely won’t get the data they need.

    For major initiatives, be able to talk about important decisions you made, results, what you could have done better, and what you learned that you’ve applied elsewhere. Don’t try to spin it as customer obsession or disagree and commit. Tell the story, and expect follow-ups.

    If you’re asked about difficult customer and you’ve never worked directly with a customer, you have to use a proxy. “Our PMs are the voice of our customers, and brought us a problem that seemed impossible to solve, and wouldn’t budge” or “our project manager was very inflexible with status reporting and it took a toll on myself and the team, and I worked with them to change it like this…” or “my lead had brought me a design, and asked I implement it as is, but I saw some problems and was having trouble convincing them to change.”. It doesn’t have to literally be a customer. You can say “internal customer” or “partner” to be clear.

    Don’t memorize a story unless you really can’t explain things in near real time. Essentially, if you can get by with some cards or notes that detail high points of each story, do that.

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      Junior SWE [OP]
      Taro Community
      7 days ago

      Thanks Lee, this is really helpful! Sorry for the nooby question. I've never done a behavioral before!

      Do you have any thoughts/guides on what kinds of themes I should have in mind? So far I've got

      • Working with customers/stakeholders
      • Failures/setbacks/weakness
      • Wins/accomplishment
      • Deadlines/pressure
      • Conflict resolution
    • 1
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      Staff Eng @ Google, Ex-Meta SWE, Ex-Amazon SDM/SDE
      7 days ago

      Things going very wrong, things going very well, and huge surprises seem to be the general categories. Again, don’t focus on one story for each, but certainly anything standout along these lines include in your prep. Consider strictly interpersonal scenarios, not only technical ones. A technical disagreement with a peer is sort of both, but being able to talk through how you resolved a disagreement, or regained trust after it was lost.

      Things like what you do when you can’t solve something yourself, or have made a mistake, are also important.

      The themes you mention are pretty good, but generally I’d start with what your best stories are, not trying to shoehorn one thing into each theme. You won’t be asked “tell me a time you resolved a conflict”.

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