Holly Lee Coaching

How to earn trust during interviews | Amazon Leadership Principles

Amazon has a rubric for leadership that it judges through its Amazon Leadership Principles. People at Amazon trust leaders who listen attentively, speak candidly, treat others respectfully, are vocally self-critical even if embarrassing or awkward, and can own up to their mistakes. While this abstract value system might not get you anywhere, this blog article will help you find the value behind this system and how and why it matters for Amazon and its leadership principles.

What are Amazon Leadership Principles?

Amazon has 14 simple leadership principles which will lead you to success.

  1. Obsess over the customers and work to build and retain their trust.
  2. Own your company as a whole, and work for collective success for all, not just themselves and their team.
  3. Stay on the lookout for innovation and keep their ideas simplified. Reject the thought that if it’s not done at the company before, it cannot be done in the future.
  4. Have good judgment and instincts accumulated through the diversity of opinions and unlearning. Make the right choices a lot.
  5. Always be prepared to learn, unlearn and improve. Stay curious.
  6. Recognize new talent, nurture it, coach it, help it grow for the collective benefit of the company.
  7. Have almost unreasonably high standards and the tenacity to match them. Raise the bar for others and deliver high-quality services and products.
  8. Make bold decisions. Think big to serve the customers best.
  9. Take a calculated risk and choose to act speedily.
  10. Be resourceful, self-sufficient, and frugal. Invent more with existing resources.
  11. Listen to, speak nicely, and treat others with respect. Have high standards for themselves.
  12.  Be all rounded and take up all tasks in a product’s life cycle when needed. Operate on all levels.
  13. Challenge what you are against and support tenaciously what they believe in. Commit strongly once a decision is made.
  14. Be result-oriented and manage setbacks wisely.

Questions during the interview

One of the most common questions that you will be asked during your Amazon interview is to provide an example of how you were able to build a positive rapport with your peers. You might have to think of a project where you delivered on your commitments and collaborated with others. You would be asked to think of a time where you contributed to improving the morale and productivity of your team. You would be required to underline the problems faced during a project, their causes, your role in preventing a downfall in team morale, and how you managed the crisis. You would also be questioned about instances where you were unable to meet a commitment to a team member, why it happened, what was the issue it caused, and what did you learn from it.

What is the interviewer looking for?

Before you answer any question, you should try to understand the interviewer’s intention behind asking that question. What are they looking for in their answer? Most questions are not focused on one leadership principle, but rather encompass multiple principles broadly. The questions above are measuring your trustworthiness. The interviewer is looking for your ability to look for the bigger picture while remaining keen on the specific details of an issue. They are also listening to see who the subject of your concern was. When a problem arrived were you worried about saving your own skin or caring about your team as a whole? Were you conscious of your responsibility towards the company and most importantly, did you have the customer in your mind?

To best answer these questions, stay human. Acknowledge your flaws, acknowledge your limitations while demonstrating the above-board effort you made to resolve the issue. You do not have to be in the spotlight. You need not be the hero that saves the day for your role to be vital. A good team player who stays alert and proactive during the crisis and depends on other people and their expertise is perhaps more sought for in today’s work environment. The lone hero trope is played out.

Always use the STAR method of Situation, Task, Action, Result to develop a story. Balance your answer between concise and comprehensive. Use simple words that are easily understandable to your audience. Change your linguistic skills according to your interviewer. If an engineer talks to you, talk like an engineer to them. If an HR manager is asking you a question, don’t use technical terms. They won’t understand them and you would seem obnoxious. Tailor your answer to your audience.

Focus on the big picture

A lot of people go through a list of potential questions while they are preparing for an interview. While this is good preparation, it is almost impossible to go through them all. You will end up exhausted and not very well prepared. Instead of the ‘what’ focus on the ‘why’. Why would the interview ask me questions? What are they looking for? Amazon has made it quite easy in this regard. They have published their leadership principles online. That is what they are looking for. When answering any question, keep those principles in your mind.

If you are asked to talk about a time you had to ask for additional funding for a project and why you did that, focus on why was that question asked. You don’t need to talk about the whole process of acquiring additional funding. Prove to them that the additional funding was not a result of an oversight in the initial budget analysis and that despite it, you remained resourceful. If such an event has not happened, instead of saying ‘it never happened’ tell them about a time you had a close call and how it was avoided.

Focusing on the big picture and the intentions of the interviewer will surely get you on your road to success.