29 replies to Jeff Bezos’s Amazon Interview Questions (Part 2)

Around 2 weeks ago, I have written the answer for 15 interview questions for Amazon job interview (Part 1).  I have received unexpected responses and here are the remaining of my spontaneous answers:

16. “Tell the story of the last time you had to apologize to someone.”

Back in 2010, I was working for IX Telecom, a small telco company in Malaysia monitoring large networks. One of the key lesson that I learned from the Chief is that we shouldn’t simply say sorry. Especially without any real meaning.

I made few mistakes in my working life, despite it is just a small mistake. 3R is the simplest way to resolve this. Regret. Reason. Remedy.

And the last time I apologize to someone was when there is a breakdown in communication in terms of what mechanism needs to be in place for guests registration for a launch of a new exhibition. As part of Marketing team, I was eager to roll the latest visitor registration system via iPad. However, since it is new, we thought it would delay the registration process. So, we decided to use paper and pen.

Then, at the end of everything. There is a bit of miscommunication in terms of how things should be implemented. At the end of it, I have decided that I took full responsibility and learned that communications are vital. Vertically and horizontally. And it is a beauty when you can experience the meaning of “doing the right thing” versus “doing things right”. Which of course, for a separate discussion.

17. “Walk me through how Amazon Kindle books would be priced.”

My first perception, cheaply. But it actually depends on the author/publisher. It is a light version of a book but content is still King. So, yeah. It is a mix of the pricing and product quality resulted in the output.

  • Right pricing. Good product. Good sales.
  • Wrong pricing. Bad product. Bad sales.

But pricing it at $0.99 is good if you already reached your break-even cost or desired profit. And Kindle is just another channel for you to sell your book. The choice is yours.

18. “What would you do if you saw someone being unsafe at work?”

Think. Choose the right approach and take action. If it is not time specific, you can share it with him or his/your superior.

Best if you know his/her influencer(s). Talk to them.

19. “What would you do if somehow you misdirected 10,000 units of something?”

You have two options:

Firstly, redirect it back again to where it belongs. Then tell your superior.

Secondly, tell your superior and direct it where it belongs.

I want to stress the point of communication because “somehow” it happened. And it was none of your attention. Most problem arise when you are being caught with your hand inside the cookie jar while you didn’t know your hands reaching in.

But integrity is at the core. You can choose to redirect it back again without anyone knows about it. But you decide the magnitude. Again, “doing the right thing” or “doing things right”.

20. “How would you improve Amazon’s website?”

For goodness sake, ship Worldwide 🙂

21. “You have 30 people working under you with 2 working indirect. Each employee can do 150 units/hour. Each work day has two 15 min breaks and one 30 min lunch. In a 5 day work week, how many total units can you complete?”

Is that all? Okay.

  • Capacity: 32 people = (32 * (8 – 1) * 5) hours = 1120 hours
  • Units = 1120*150 = 168,000 completed units.

22. “What is the most difficult situation you have ever faced in your life? How did you handle it?”

I have an issue related to my family, but I am not ready to share it here. So, but I have another which could be considered as one of the most difficult.

Getting my wife to focus on the family.

The idea is simple. To get my wife to focus on the family. Asking her to quit her job and focus on our two daughters. It is a bout delegation and I can earn more than her. Plus, she always wanted to work from home and start her own business and manage her own time.

It took a while for me to come up with something. I have discussed this with her for more than a year until I have decided to mathematically consider three main things:

  • How much she earns and what’s left after deducting everything
  • What are her goals and dreams
  • How her time are being used on daily basis

So, I introduced her with the idea 3 months ago and she is currently serving her notice. Thinking about the fact that she has a degree in Business Management, normally people would go against this idea. But I have learned that we know best about our family, our goals, our targets and what do we want from life.

But hey, if later she decides to work again. I am open. So, it is a win-win situation and she just needs a little push.

23. “How would you tell a customer what Wi-Fi is?”

I would firstly ask if you he/she knows what Internet is and Wi-Fi is another form of wireless connection that helps your device to surf the web.

Traditionally, you need the cable. So, for “wireless”.

24. “You are Amazon and Samsung offers you 10,000 Samsung Galaxy S3s at a 34% discount. Is that a good deal?”

At the current situation (December 2015). Probably people wouldn’t bother because there is S6 now. If you are looking to clear your stock, perhaps 50% would be a good deal.

Unless, I can sell it at the market value. Then I know I have at least 34% gross profit margin.

25. “Design an online payment system.”

Why do we need to reinvent the wheel? Perhaps we should focus on improving the UX and UI of the payment system.

26. “Give me an example of a time when you were 75% of the way through a project, and you had to pivot strategy–how were you able to make that into a success story?”

Test it fast and if it successful. Share the initial story. Then people would know that the pivot strategy works. There must be something that you did which give birth to the new strategy. Share that as well.

Sir Ken Robinson said, “If you are not prepared to be wronged, you will never come up with something new.”

27. “Should we sell private label cleaning products?”

Never. Don’t bother. 80/20 (Pareto’s Principle)

28. “What would you do if you found out that your closest friend at work was stealing?”

Refer question #18. It seems like this is one of the top questions in Amazon job interview 🙂

29. “Which Amazon leadership principle do you resonate most with?”

Innovation.

I love innovation because it shows progress. Similar like growing. When there is no progress, you are dying. Year by year, I will set few things to achieve in a particular year and focus on it.

Be a better version of yourself everyday.

(Part 2 – 29 December 2015, 6:33PM)

—— End of Interview ——

Thank you for reading and if you have feedback, please fill up the following form. Cheers and happy 2016!

29 replies to Jeff Bezos’s Amazon Interview Questions (Part 1)

Inc.com published this article on 29 Interview Questions Amazon Uses and I would like to give it a shot (as-an-when basis). Here it goes.

1. “Who was your most difficult customer?”

The one that kept quiet. It is hard because you can force the horse to go to the river. But you can’t force it to drink. But the secret is to (1) Establish the form of communication. (2) Keeping the momentum. (3) Understand that he/she is a human and they decide best.

At the end of the day, he/she might not buy it now. Maybe later. If not this product, the other product from your store. Business is when needs are fulfilled. Economically speaking, supply meets demand.

2. “How would you introduce AWS in an elevator pitch?”

The solution that wasn’t available a decade ago. It is made available with a friction of a cost allowing you to replicate your applications that can serve your customer all over the world. Scalable is the keyword. If you don’t need it now. You will need it in the future because this is the future.

3. “What is the worst mistake you ever made?”

Not opening myself up for possibilities. Between 20 – 25 years old, my focus was to do ALL things possible my way, the way I want it to be. But now, 3 years later. I realised that although I manage uncover a lot of things, the secret is to allow openness.

In terms of learning and in terms of accepting that you can’t do all things by yourself. The secret to living is growing and in order to grow, we must learn. And to learn, we must be open. #kisahorangbiasa

4. “If your direct manager was instructing you to do something you disagreed with, how would you handle it?”

This isn’t the first time. During the first few, I found hesitation in myself, but sooner I realised that it didn’t do me any good. Despite the different personality that I have with my superior, but I always ask this question to myself everyday:

When is the last time you try something new?

So, I believe that I just need to do deal with it and treat it as something new. There must be something I can learn. Or if it is a vicious cycle, you will learn “how not to be someone”.

5. “Describe what Human Resource means to you.”

Anthony Robbins mentioned in his TED Talk that most people complain about lack of resources. “I don’t have enough staff”, for example. And human is part of the equation or resource.

Network = Net worth. So, human resource is putting the value to the time and energy spent by the people.

6. “What is the angle between the hour hand and minute hand in an analog clock?”

Depending on your time. I don’t have the exact mathematics calculation on top of my head but if you consider. 3am (hour hand at 3, minute hand at 12). That is a 90 degrees. And you can divide them into 3 which is 30 degrees for each distance between 1 and 2 for example. The rest, you can deduce from there.

7. “How do you detect whether or not a word is a palindrome?”

To be honest. I don’t know the effective way. But what pops on top of my head now is drawing a line in the middle of all characters combine. And check if left side is similar to right from the centre. Done.

8. “Do you know our CEO? How do you pronounce his name?”

Jeff Bezos. I have been pronouncing his name the way it should. Double checked it on several video sources.

9. “Here’s a string with numbers from 1-250 in random order, but it’s missing one number. How will you find the missed number?”

This is quite challenging. To be honest I don’t know how. Perhaps sort the numbers from 1 – 50, 51 – 100, 101 – 150, 151 – 200 and 201 – 250 and check the unfortunate column.

10. “Are you willing to work on your feet for ten hours, four days a week?”

Sure. I just need a standing workstation and permission to wear whatever shoes I want to wear.

11. “Do you think you’ll reach a point where you storm off the floor and never return?”

It is hard to say but so far I will know if I am “falling” and I will bring myself up again. I prefer to keep quiet and not say anything.

When you’re up to this point, ask yourself?

Is this worst then death? No. Good!

12. “Would you tell on an employee for stealing?”

It is code of conduct. I will personally tell him/her. Even in a single note but this will be on my personal record. If it happens again, it is time for face-to-face. If it happens again, HR it is.

Sometimes, people didn’t know it is “stealing”.

13. “How would you solve problems if you were from Mars?”

Just solve the problem if you can. If you can’t communicate, find a way to do so and solve the problem. People don’t care where you are coming from. Stay focus on the problems.

14. “How do you persuade people?”

I influent them with what I have done and what I am willing to do for them. Mutual understanding. Mutual respect. Perhaps we can reach to a mutual agreement and expectations.

Communicate effectively.

15. “Describe what happens in your browser as soon as you hit enter after writing a URL in the address bar.”

With my little knowledge, URL is mapped to an IP. Basically you will request for information (download) from that IP to be displayed. It will travel through the wire and go through the tunnel where the IP is located. Then the packets will be sent back to you and displayed on your screen.

(Part 1 – 15 December 2015, 5:30PM)

READ PART 2

Image credit: ceoworld.biz