Acing the Amazon Bar Raiser Interview Process, Questions & Answers

The final interview at Amazon is called the "Bar Raiser Interview". This is where someone outside of the hiring team (aka the "Bar Raiser") asks you a number of questions. Here's what it involves and how to ace it:

Acing the Amazon Bar Raiser Interview Process, Questions & Answers

To get hired into a corporate role at Amazon, there is one person you absolutely need to convince. If they are not persuaded, you will not be hired.

In the final round, Amazon introduces a trained interviewer from outside the hiring team. They do not have the pressure of the hiring manager to fill the role quickly. They do have the power to veto your appointment. They are Amazon bar raisers and their job is to make sure you are better than 50% of Amazon’s current employees in the position you’re applying for.

In this article, we’ll look at how to ace your Amazon bar raiser interview process.

What Is a Bar Raiser at Amazon?

A bar raiser is trained to objectively assess whether interviewees match Amazon’s principles. They participate only in the final round of the interview process. To become a bar raiser at Amazon, you have to train in the bar raiser program. You can only enter the program by invitation from other bar raisers. Bar raisers exist to allow the company to make better long-term hiring decisions.

Amazon wants only employees who embody their 16 leadership principles:

  1. Customer Obsession - work backwards from the customer’s needs in every circumstance.
  2. Ownership - never say “that’s not my job” and always build long term value.
  3. Invent and Simplify - look for new ideas from everywhere and simplify things to make them better.
  4. Are Right, A Lot - work to disprove your beliefs but have good judgment.
  5. Learn and Be Curious - constantly learn and take action to explore new opportunities.
  6. Hire and Develop the Best - develop your team, mentor and support them.
  7. Insist on the Highest Standards - make sure not to pass defects along the chain and expect very high performance of yourself and your team as standard.
  8. Think Big - inspire great performance with a bold vision.
  9. Bias for Action - act at speed and take smart risks.
  10. Frugality - overcome your resource limitations with resourcefulness.
  11. Earn Trust - listen, communicate honestly and be unbiased in your assessment of yourself and your team.
  12. Dive Deep - get involved in the detail at all levels of your team’s work and gather data to keep informed on progress.
  13. Have Backbone; Disagree and Commit - fight your corner when your team is making a decision but commit fully to the decision once it is made.
  14. Deliver Results - focus on the things that matter most and rise to the occasion.
  15. Strive to be Earth's Best Employer - always be thinking about what’s next for your employees.
  16. Success and Scale Bring Broad Responsibility - constantly improve.

The bar raiser programme was originally called the barkeeper programme when it was first launched for tech job candidates in 1999. Back then, the name implied maintaining the hiring standard. Now, the program's goal is Amazon raising the bar.

The name change suited the program's purpose better since every new hire at Amazon is expected to be above average compared to those already in similar roles.

Since bar raisers typically work outside of the candidate's field, they have an unbiased view, allowing them to detect strengths and weaknesses that interviewers from the prospective team might miss.

Amazon office

How the Amazon Bar Raiser Interview Process Works

The full Amazon interviewing process takes between one week and four months, depending on which team you’re interviewing for and which role. The final round (or ‘loop’ interview) of the Amazon interview process is known as the bar raiser interview.

You will ‘loop’ through a number of back-to-back interviews including with the bar raiser and hiring manager. The more senior the position, the more interviews.

Once the interviews are over, all interviewers gather to share their assessments in a debrief. The bar raiser chairs the debriefing session. Their job is to make sure the best decision is made on the best supporting evidence. This discussion allows the hiring committee to decide whether to hire the candidate or not. Only Amazon knows the success rate for candidates who reach the bar raiser interview stage. A good debrief, however, leads to an offer being made 9 out of 10 times.

The bar raiser considers the presented information and reaches a consensus with the hiring manager. The bar raiser can veto the hiring manager's decision, so they are the only person that absolutely has to be convinced.

Amazon Bar Raiser Interview Questions

While your initial interview may be more focused on the role you've applied for, the bar raiser interview tends to include more interview questions about Amazon's 16 leadership principles.

As a result, expect to be faced with behavioral questions during the Amazon bar raiser interview, and they may look like this:

What Is Your Ideal Work Environment?

The answer to this question has to be realistic yet optimistic. You should research the Amazon work environment and to judge for yourself that you’re applying to a place that suits you. Describe the type of work, work culture and expectations you are looking for. Make clear the experiences and reasoning your opinion is based on. Of course, if your answers diverge from what’s on offer at Amazon, it would be a red mark on your application.

How Do You Analyze Risk?

Like any company, Amazon values candidates that have excellent risk mitigation and critical thinking skills. An ideal way to analyze risk is by identifying a list of major potential risks, defining their levels of uncertainty, and estimating their potential impacts before reaching a balanced decision. Give examples of when you’ve done this before.

What Is Your Approach to Mentorship?

The bar raiser may ask you this question to determine how you'll train other employees in your department when needed. In this case, you may describe how you'll mentor someone on a common industry-related task, ensuring that you're thorough in your explanation and describe your mentoring with a step-by-step approach. Give examples from the past.

How Do You Deal With Challenging Customers?

While answering this question, you must remain honest while displaying your customer service capabilities to the interviewer. You must be patient and helpful while dealing with customers, no matter how challenging their situation is. Use a story from a previous company where you've dealt with difficult customers.

How Would You React to Your Manager Going Against Company Policy?

This would be a difficult situation to find yourself in, but you must assure the interviewer that you'll follow Amazon’s principles during your time at Amazon. Remember, one of the Amazon leadership principles is ‘have backbone: disagree and commit’. In this context, you may describe how you would advise the manager respectfully or report the issue to the appropriate department before it escalates. Have you been in a similar situation in the past? Speak about how you handled it if you acted in line with Amazon’s principles.

How to Prepare for the Amazon Bar Raiser Interview

The secret to preparing for the Amazon bar raiser interview is to understand this: Amazon is an evidence driven company. Amazon believes past performance is the most reliable predictor of future performance. The interview is designed to measure you against the Amazon leadership principles. You must feed them examples of your previous performance as evidence to make a decision.

Use the STAR method to prepare effective answers that highlight the different leadership principles. In this respect, there is no difference between being interviewed by the bar raiser and any other interviewer.

Here are some pro tips that can help you prepare and improve your performance at the bar raiser interview.

  • Prepare to answer situational and behavioral questions. Bar raisers usually hire focusing on who you are rather than your potential
  • Thoroughly understand Amazon's 16 Leadership Principles. The bar raiser evaluates the candidates based on these principles
  • Carefully review your CV, past projects, and experiences for examples you can give matching Amazon’s leadership principles.
  • Prepare answers with the STAR method for each principle
  • Understand the key traits of your personality - strengths and weaknesses - as their hiring decision is based mainly on these characteristics
  • Ask clarifying questions and take your time to understand the questions before you respond. This will not count against you.
  • Be ready for follow-up questions to the answers you give to the bar raiser's questions
  • Make sure to revise a few mock interviews to further improve your performance

Getting a job at Amazon

Once you apply for a job at Amazon, your preparation isn't just limited to the initial, industry-specific interview. You'll also need to prepare for the bar raiser interview, which determines whether you'll get the job. To crack the code for the bar raiser interview, ensure you remember to learn the Amazon principles and have evidence-backed examples for each of them.

4 Day Week Jobs at Amazon

Yes, it's true. Did you know that Amazon is trialing "Reduced-Time Tech Teams" in different parts of the company? These teams work 30hr per week and receive 100% of the benefits and 75% of the salary compensation. It's not quite the gold standard for a 4 day work week (i.e. 32hrs for 100% salary), but given that Amazon salaries are typically higher than market rates, it's not all that bad.