Holly Lee Coaching

How to Answer Ownership Interview Questions & Answers

If you’re overthinking about interview questions or struggling to pass job interviews with Amazon or a top tech company in general, then this article is for you. 

Amazon Leadership: Ownership 

This Leadership Principal number two talks about ownership, which will in-depth cover the importance of preparing storytelling, and answering behavioral questions. 

The reason I consider ownership as the second most important Leadership Principle is that employers want to know if you have the right aptitude to impact the organization and not just a team. 

If you’re being interviewed for a leadership position, here are the two questions you’re most likely to be asked the following: 

1. Are you able to make business decisions for the long term gain by scaling the company across the team? 

This applies to all the leaders and people managers out there. As you answer this question, think about a few key factors using the STAR method. People who follow me on YouTube will know that I’m a big fan of the STAR method. 

STAR method stands for Situation. Tasks. Action. Results. 

It’s a framework that allows you to tell your story more confidently. By curating the situation of your story, identifying what needs to be done as your task to accomplish, how to create an action plan around that task. And finally, what was your result? 

These are things that you need to build your story around. 

2. Tell me a time when you’ve made a decision that didn’t pan out how you wanted it to.

This is one of the common questions you will most likely be asked by almost all organizations, especially in the big tech companies like Facebook and Google. As a manager and an individual contributor what was the situation and how did you resolve it? 

Whether you are in a leadership role, or as an individual contributor, organizations like to hear an area where you made mistakes. They want to see you taking responsibility and ownership. They want to see if you can own up to your mistakes, and how would you go about and beyond their expectations, or even your expectations to solve the problem.

Nobody is perfect, it’s okay to admit that you could have done things differently for a better outcome. You must have at least one go-to example of such a case. You want to walk into a job interview prepared or you won’t be getting the job that you’ve been waiting for. 

How does Amazon define ownership?

Furthermore, Amazon defines ownership as acting on behalf of the entire company, not just their team, which basically means you are never allowed to say this is not my job.

Therefore, lack of ownership is a major factor in my opinion why professionals are not getting the job that they deserve. 

Common mistakes to avoid 

As an ex-recruiter, I’ve interviewed several thousands of candidates from engineers, program managers to HR professionals, here are some of the common things to avoid. 

It’s awesome that you have great success in the company or the role that you’re in, but you don’t want to come across as arrogant. 

As an interviewer, I often see a lot of candidates make these mistakes where it’s always about them. They missed a little step on who did you pull in to be part of the team to accomplish project ABC? What was your part in the decision? 

At the end of the day, it’s more about teamwork and how well you get along with people. 

Talk about your relationship with UX or UI designers, program managers,s or technical program managers so you don’t leave an impression that you did everything on your own. Talk about what happened and who helped you to get there.

Confidence is a great thing to have. It’s even better to have clarity on what you own. 

Some other questions I commonly hear are:

Tell me about a time when you took on something significant outside of your area of responsibility. Why was it important? And what was the outcome? 

Remind yourself of the STAR method again. As you answer behavioral questions, you need to go through the star method in creating the right content for your answer. Describe a project or idea, not necessarily your own, but one that you helped implement primarily because of your efforts. You’re not leading the project but what did you do to help others in order to reach the outcome? Were there challenges in that project? Excellent. Share your thoughts on that. What did you do to work together to bring the best outcome on the ROI?

When you saw a peer struggling, and you decided to step up to help without anyone asking you. What did you do to step in and help them by asking the right questions?

A lot of the time, what you don’t know, you don’t know. So that’s a big part of ownership and according to Amazon, it’s how they define ownership as acting on behalf of the entire company, beyond just your team.

About Holly Lee 

I am  committed to teaching you everything you need to know so that you can pass your future job interviews. 

As the founder of Career Accelerator MasterClass, where I help my clients regain their confidence, find their values and purpose in getting the right job. Working in companies like Amazon, Google and many other startups, I have ample recruiting experience that has successfully helped me coach my clients.