The employees’ favorite multinational corporations FANG (Facebook, Amazon, Netflix, and Google), are acknowledged thus for a reason. Their company quality is world-class, and so are their employees. To crack any of these companies’ hiring processes, you must be well aware of their pattern in recruiting. Here, we’ll know about Amazon Writing Exercise.
To crack the Amazon interview, one needs to have practical knowledge in the required job and excellent verbal and written communication skills. The world belongs to people who can express, and that is where the writing exercise questions come in the Amazon assessment process.
This article can find everything you need to know about the Amazon writing exercise and some essential tips to crack the section.
Amazon hiring process
Amazon is one of the most favorite employers for people around the world. For the same reason, their hiring process is as competitive as any other company. Hence, it is necessary to know the entire interview process before appearing for it.
Step 1: Online Application: You have to choose the job you need and apply online through the official Amazon website, where there is an option called “job of interest.” Once you have reached the website, click on the “Apply Now” button near it. Then provide the data necessary.
Step 2: Assessments: The assessment tests vary concerning the job that you have applied for. The most common types of assessments are the work style assessment and the work sample simulation, where you will complete assigned tasks. The written exercise comes under this category.
Step 3: Phone interview: A phone interview or oral interview will include questions to assess your leadership principles and behavioral-based questions. You can also use this opportunity to prepare for your actual interview.
Step 4: Interview: A one-on-one interview will be set up for you, and it is the main interview. Most of the interviews are conducted online these days due to the pandemic situation. Therefore, you need to learn the STAR method for answering questions, i.e., S-Situation, T-Task, A-Action, R-Result.
Step 5: Hiring team review and result: The team will analyze your performance and provide the right feedback on your application status.
What is a writing exercise in the Amazon interview?
Most of the high-level job interviews in Amazon require the writing exercise part. It is a form of assessing your written communication skills no matter what job you are looking for. Understanding behavioral interview questions and ways to answer them will give you an idea of how to answer the writing exercise questions.
But before entering the answering part and its methods, let us see what to expect in the writing exercise section. The structure of the writing exercise includes two questions where you are free to attend either one of them. The candidates will have at least 48 hours before the onsite interview to complete the answer.
The answer should not be more than four pages, and the ideal number of pages you can write is 2. But, again, it is to ensure precise answering with valid points only.
Writing exercise: Question 1
The first option asks you about your greatest innovation or an idea good to make people’s lives better. The answer can include points like what was the most innovative thing you have done, describe any product idea, marketing method, or customer interaction technique that brought about a change in your working atmosphere, why was the said innovation required, how did you manage to solve the problem with your idea and so on.
While writing the answer, make sure that you do not disclose any information your previous employer requested to be confidential. Any possible idea or change you put forward that brought a positive change or resolved a problem in your work can be included in the answer.
There are some things that you should include in your answer:
- Is your innovation scalable? How can you develop your idea to resolve a larger problem without spending additional resources on it?
- What is expected from this innovation?
- How does your innovation impact society?
- What is the level of influence the idea can bring out?
Writing exercise: Question 2
The second option is based on your judgment rather than innovation. Without proper judgment calls, analytical decisions cannot withstand in the long run. In this question, you have to elaborate on any judgment calls you have made, which positively impacted the issue at hand.
In the answer, it will be beneficial to explain the entire situation in which you had to take this action and the impact of the decision you made. Explain the various conditions you considered while arriving at this decision and the reason for eliminating all the other alternatives you had.
Keep in mind while answering
There are some things to note while presenting the answers to both questions.
- Use MS Word rich text format.
- The title of the question should be the question that you have chosen.
- Use Arial or Times New Roman with font preferably 12 but no less than 10.
- Do not use bullets or outline format.
- Do not include any confidential information in the answers.
- Include specific examples and valid points to support your answer.
- Use the STAR approach while answering.
- Ensure proper flow of writing.
How are the answers evaluated?
There are two criteria by which the reviewer assesses your work. They are:
- Clarity of expression.
- Structure and organization of ideas.
You need to keep these points in mind and maintain a proper flow in your answers. Arranging the related points in a disorderly fashion will not get you anywhere, be prepared to organize the answers with the PAR structure. You can also try using a second-party perspective to edit your answer to get the necessary flow.
Sample Answer Structure
You can use the following sample structure to write your answer. The answering process is almost like behavioral questions but with introduction and conclusion paragraphs.
In this paragraph, answer your question briefly and outline what you are going to write. State the innovation or judgment that you made in the introduction and explain it later.
Describe the problem
This is the problem section of the PAR writing structure. Explain the problem that you are solving with your idea. Describing the situation’s entire context and specifying the need for innovation or judgment calls is part of this section. Make sure to wrap it up in half a page.
Describe the action
This is the action section in the PAR structure and should be the longest section of all. In this section, you should explain the methods that you took to resolve the previously explained problem. You should begin every sentence of the paragraph with a general idea of the point that you will explain in that paragraph. If there are multiple points, use the first sentence as a title for them all.
Describe the results
The last and final section of the PAR structure should include the aftereffects of your idea. Explain the outcome of your innovation or judgment call in this section.
While writing the conclusion paragraph, restate the topic and summarise the major points that you have covered.
Common mistakes while writing
There are some common errors that people keep repeating in their answers. Let us go through some of them and identify their solutions.
Mistake 1: No introductory paragraph
Even though the PAR structure is intriguing to follow, adding an introductory paragraph is essential to bring in the reader towards your situation. It is the general summary of what you are going to present, and it provides a clear direction in which the reader is supposed to address your answer.
If you avoid the introduction, the reader will have to put extra effort into identifying what you are trying to say through the answer. So you need to include the answers to the question of the major point in your story.
Here is a simple example of an introductory paragraph you can refer to.
“Recently, I had to innovate a new way of approaching customers in my company to increase sales. Of course, I had my team with me throughout all the major decisions, but in the end, it was an experiment and a risk we had to take. But at last, it became one of the most productive sales innovations in the company’s history”.
In this example, the problem, its solution, and the innovation outcome are all mentioned in a nutshell. It also raises curiosity in the reader to explore the full story. The transition from this to PAR structure is easy for a writer.
Mistake 2: Absence of context
Providing a vague description of the event instead of giving the right context is a mistake that appears most and should be avoided. In the following example, we can see how this is a problem in an answer.
“A few months ago, I happened to come across a project idea of a team of which I was not a part. The team was confident about the product, but I found some issues that would cause major problems in the market. Especially related to customer satisfaction and sales outlets.
But I was confused about whether to report my concerns to the team lead or just stay away from it as it was not my project. At this point, I kept the company’s interests above everything else and expressed my concerns to the project lead. Surprisingly, the project lead took it well and amended changes in the project favorable to the customers.”
In this answer, there are many questions left unanswered. How did you come across another team’s project? What was the project, and why was it unsuitable for the market? How did you understand the problem, and what was your suggestion to solve it? How was the team lead able to create necessary changes?
From this example, it is clear that providing the proper context and details is necessary while answering the questions. There should be no questions remaining in the mind of the reader when he goes through your answer. A clear context makes a perfect answer that can connect with the reader throughout the essay.
Mistake 3: Overuse of context
Same as not giving enough context, providing excessive background information can also be a problem in your essay. The effect of your story reduces whether you don’t provide enough context or overuse it. While describing the situation in your essay, think like a person reading it for the first time and giving the necessary information for such a person to understand what you have written.
This is where editing comes essentially in any work. Even if you detail a lot of information, make sure to edit it out to proper context yourself or with the help of another reader.
Mistake 4: Failure to describe the action
As we have discussed earlier, the action part is the most important portion of the answers. This is the part where you describe the innovation or judgment that you are mentioning in the answer. Hence, it has to be perfect with the necessary information.
We need to make sure in this section that you have to try and give credit to yourself for your actions. It may be true that you had a team to assist you, but it is hardly a place to compliment your team. Let us take a look at this example answer.
“I coordinated the marketing team and the developers to come up with a new tactic that defines the product with such quality in the market. It was important for the publicity heads to understand the product’s specifications and they were explained about it. I also contacted the customer support team to make them aware of the changes made in the programming and product functioning and asked them to keep feedback on the new release.”
Even though you should note that the answer can be more detail-oriented than this, the answer is perfect for showing what you offered in the process. For example, in this answer, the writer could mention how she contacted the customer support team, coordinated the marketing and developers team, and about the product idea.
To know what kind of details you need to mention, keep in mind the position you are applying for. Then, write about the details that are relevant to the job you need.
Mistake 5: Failure to describe the impact
The last part of the PAR structure requires you to write the result of your initiative. It is an important part, and you should not omit this in any circumstances. Your answer will be complete only when the reader can know the outcome of your work.
Answer these questions in the result portion. How did your action affect the business? Were you able to resolve the problem at hand? If not, what are the lessons you learned from your action? What process did you use to improve your situation?
Here is an example where you have to explain failure as a result.
“I implemented the new pattern in our code, and as we were unable to get it checked in our usual format. The problem was fixed at sight, but my supervisor asked me to check it anyway, irrespective of the closing deadline. But the code didn’t pass the final tests, and hence we had to reverse the program. As a result, we met a slight delay in delivering the final code, but the produced code was perfect, and the client was more than happy about it.
From this incident, I learned that not everything would be a success, and you have to learn from the failures. In addition, it taught me that trust in the quality of the final product is sometimes more important than the time in which it is delivered. So, we need to start fast and look for every possible way in which things can go wrong, then prepare for every case scenario”.
In this answer, the writer portrayed her failure and stated why such an incident occurred. When you write about something that has not gone as planned, ensure what you have learned from the action. It shows a positive attitude in work and life alike.
Amazon writing exercise: Tips to score well
Here are some basic tips that you can try out while answering the questions. These may help you score better in the exercise.
- Try to pick the most recent example rather than one that happened a long time ago. The more your answer adapts to the current environment and technology, the better.
- Be as specific as possible. Include the relevant information like the place, date, names, etc.. as the more authentic background you can provide, the more believable your answer will be.
- Answer every part of the question. As you have seen, you will be asked several multifaceted questions under each option. Make sure to answer all of them correctly.
- Importance of context. As we know, the description of what happened is really important for the idea to be conveyed rather than pinpointing just the situation.
- Discuss adversity. A scenario where everyone unanimously agrees to your ideas or innovations is highly unlikely. Hence, don’t be afraid to talk about the controversies or oppositions you had to face during the process, as it makes the story more believable.
In this article, we have discussed everything about the Amazon writing exercise. We explained what type of assessment it is, how to proceed writing the answers, common mistakes made while attempting, major tips to focus on, and ways to impress the reviewer. Most skilled candidates doubt whether their language skills are enough for cracking this section. But as we have learned so far, it is assured that even if you have only a basic understanding of the English language, you can easily score good grades in this evaluation. The answers are about clarity and precision, not wordplay. So, focus on your written communication skills rather than language skills.
Frequently Asked Questions
- Why is writing exercise important in an Amazon hiring process?
The importance of a writing exercise is that whatever be the profession, you always need to be sound in written communication. There will be requirements to complete written tasks from time to time in any job, and that is why it is important to assess the answers of this section with equal priority as the others.
- What are the guidelines to be followed while attending the writing exercise questions?
- Mention the question that you have chosen on top of your response.
- Avoid using bullets or outlines and choose a narrative form of writing.
- Use the rich text format for typing the response (in MS word).
- Make sure not to include any confidential information in your answers.
- How is the Amazon written exercise connected to behavioral interview questions?
As you might have noticed, both the questions in the written exercise are behavioral questions where you are asked about your experience in the past and its relevance in a certain context. Hence, if you have already prepared for behavioral questions, that must be necessary for attending the writing exercise part.
- How well does my language have to be to ace the writing section?
Your language is no barrier to crack this section of the assessment. If you are average or above average in the English language, then there is nothing to worry about on that front. However, if you are below-average in the language, even then, you can get the job if it isn’t a complete requirement. But you may want to learn the language better later on.
As long as your answer is structured with necessary details and the proper way of presentation, the language doesn’t matter. Perfect language is unnecessary for this section, so ensure that you focus on your written communication skills rather than your language fluency.