Using STAR To Ace Amazon Interviews
The STAR Amazon method is a great way to highlight your strengths and skills. In this we'll explain the Amazon STAR method and how you can use it. We’ll also give you tips on preparing for an Amazon interview and insight into the leadership principles.
6 min read
15 Jun, 2022
If you’re getting ready for an Amazon interview, it’s normal to wonder about the best way to answer questions. A common trend in Amazon interviews is behavioral questions based on Amazon leadership principles. Although it might seem intimidating, using the Amazon STAR method to prepare your answers simplifies the process.
What Is the Amazon STAR Method?
Your interviewer won’t appreciate an answer that seems to jump around the place without a goal. Instead, they want clear and concise responses. That’s the only way to demonstrate clarity of thought and a deep understanding of the question. This is why Amazon isn’t secretive about the STAR method.
STAR stands for:
- Situation: The situation you faced with your previous employer
- Task: The tasks you were involved in
- Action: The actions you took concerning the situation
- Results: What were the results of your actions?
Here is a breakdown of the STAR Amazon method for a better understanding.
Explain the Situation
Always start with a concise explanation of the situation you faced. Then, explain the context and how you learned to fix the problem.
Elaborate on the Task You Worked On
Next, provide details about the tasks you worked on. Then, elaborate on your decisions to make short-term sacrifices in line with the situation.
What Actions Did You Take?
These are different from tasks and explore the specific actions taken for the assignment. For example, if the job was learning more about user behavior, then a step you took could be sending out surveys or making phone calls.
What Are the Results of Your Actions?
Finally, explain the results you got because of your actions. When describing the outcomes of your efforts, always focus on the long-term gains.
A benefit of the Amazon STAR method is that it focuses on your skills and strength. It shows the interviewer what sets you apart from other candidates.
Amazon Star Method Interview Questions and Answers
If you want some Amazon STAR method examples, you’re in luck. This section provides sample answers to common Amazon interview questions.
Question 1: Tell Me When You Made a Mistake
Below is a sample answer that uses the STAR method to answer this question.
- Situation: I was once managing a website, and one day, it showed slow performance. My mistake was not knowing this until a user reported the issue to the management. I took full responsibility for this mistake and worked with the engineering team to resolve the issue.
- Task: I monitored the website’s non-functional requirements and added them to new feature adoptions.
- Action: To avoid repeating the mistake, I installed an excellent application management tool and set it up to notify me when the website behavior exceeds the set thresholds/service level agreement (SLA). I took the time to fully understand the tool to analyze past issues and notify the engineering department of areas that needed optimization.
- Result: We ensured a consistent page loading time of fewer than three seconds. I also shared my new knowledge with my team so they could benefit from the information and perform better.
Question 2: Tell Me About When You Used Your Initiative to Resolve a Complex Problem
This is another popular behavioral question that Amazon interviewers ask. Below is a sample answer using the Amazon STAR method.
- Situation: While working as a customer focus manager in London, I implemented a process that significantly reduced the time for processing customer refunds from 10 days to 2 days.
- Task: The refund process was taking 10 days and was using an excessive amount of resources and the agent’s time. So, the goal was to reduce this time exponentially.
- Action: I initiated the project by clearly stating the objectives and procedures. Then I created a brief analyzing the problem and outlined the benefits of the newly proposed strategy. Next, I completed a walkthrough of the existing process and identified the issues that required a solution. I also interviewed the agents to learn their opinion about the current system and what they believed would work well. Then, I designed a new refund process with this information and sent it to the software companies specializing in what we needed. Next, I held a presentation with my management team, after which I created a project unit tasked with implementing the new process.
- Result: The new refund process reduced the time from 10 days to 2 days. This helped the company save over $100,000 annually. We also received positive feedback from our customers, increasing our approval ratings by 50%.
Sometimes, behavioral interview questions come focusses on past situations and seem complex. Also, it feels like there’s a need to add context. However, you won’t leave anything important out with the STAR Amazon method, as shown in the examples above.
4 Day Week has an extensive collection of resources to help you ace your interview.
Common Amazon Behavioral Interview Questions to Expect
Before we provide you with common questions to expect, you must understand what behavioral questions are. These questions usually focus on your past performances and behavior in similar situations. Companies like Amazon ask this question because it helps them predict your job performance.
The goal of an interview is to deduce your skillset and how you will perform as an employee. Amazon is also trying to learn how well you’ll fit into their workplace culture. Behavioral questions also provide the interviewer with insight into how you think.
They’re looking for evidence of what they refer to as leadership principles. Below are the different leadership principles and questions you can answer using the Amazon STAR method.
1. Customer Obsession
- Tell me about a time you resolved an issue for your customers
- Tell me about a time when you negotiated a win-win for both parties
Would you like a 4 day work week?
- Tell me about a time you weren’t satisfied with the status quo
- Tell me about a period you had to make a difficult decision
3. Invent and Simplify
- Tell me about a time you found a simple solution to a complex problem
- Describe a situation you had to solve a complex problem and explain how you did it
4. Are Right, A Lot
- Describe a situation you had to decide without ample customer data
- Tell me about a time you needed to convince your team members about a proposal
5. Learn and Be Curious
- Tell me about a time you designed a new process
- Tell me about a time you went beyond expectations
6. Hire and Develop the Best
- Tell me about a time you had a conflict, and how did you resolve it?
- Tell me about when you had to fire someone
7. Insist on the Highest Standard
- Tell me about when you decided to make short-term sacrifices so you could achieve long-term gains
- Tell me about when you made a decision based on data and discovered you were wrong
8. Think Big
- Tell me about a simple solution you found to a complex problem
- What is your greatest success?
9. Bias for Action
- How do you prioritize if you have to work on five different projects?
- How do you manage risk in a project?
- Tell me about a time you used fewer resources to complete a project
- Tell me about a time you accomplished significant results with little budget
11. Earn Trust
- Tell me about a mistake you made
- What are the steps you take to earn the trust of team members?
12. Dive Deep
- Tell me about a time you had a problem and how you discovered the root issue
- Tell me about a moment you made a decision without enough data
13. Have Backbone; Disagree & Commit
- Tell me about when you had a disagreement with your manager and how you resolved it
- Tell me about a period you disagreed with someone
14. Deliver Results
- Describe a tough project you worked on and what made it challenging
- Tell me about a time you handled a project with a tight deadline
15. Strive to be Earth’s Best Employer
- Tell me about when you motivated a team after a discouraging event
- How did you handle negative feedback from an employee?
16. Success and Scale Bring Broad Responsibility
- Tell me about when you had a problem and needed to find out the root cause
- Describe a situation where you had a failed project and how you handled it
Tips for a Successful Amazon Interview
Now that you know how to use the Amazon STAR method and how it is a crucial part of what sets you apart from other candidates, below are some steps you can take to ensure a successful Amazon interview.
- Carry Out Research: Research behavioral questions and Amazon STAR method interview questions and answers.
- Brainstorm Different Situations: Brainstorm different experiences you could use to answer most behavioral questions.
- Write Out the Situations: After brainstorming, write down the relevant experience using the Amazon STAR method.
- Research the Role You’re Applying for: Conduct adequate research about the role and responsibilities.
Getting a job at Amazon is an excellent opportunity, but you can only get it if you are well prepared. So study the behavioral questions and prepare with the Amazon Star method.