Amazon Program Manager Interview Questions 2021

Amazon Program Manager Interview Questions

If you want to be a program manager at Amazon, you are in for a long ride. We will discuss Amazon Program Manager Interview Questions here. Things at Amazon generally tend to be different from other companies, even the big ones such as Google, Alphabet, and Facebook, including their interviews. Especially their interviews. The questions asked are challenging, usually specific to Amazon, and cover a wide range of topics.  Being familiar with the interview and screening process in the other companies will not do you any good when you are interviewing with Amazon. But no worries, we are here to help you out. Here in this article, we take a brief look at the unique interviewing process for Amazon and the possible questions that can be expected.

The typical Amazon Program Manager interview process can take from anywhere from four to eight weeks, and has the four following steps:

  • Recruiter phone screen. 
  • Amazon writing exercise
  • First-round interview.
  • On-site interview.
  • Bar raiser interview.

The recruiter phone screen is a Human Resources test taken over the phone by the recruiter, where the candidate is asked a set of routine behavioral questions, such as why they want to work at Amazon or why they want the particular role they have applied for. The candidate will be asked to refer to Amazon’s 14 Leadership Principles, and we recommend that the candidate take a look at them before taking this call. Once they pass that, the candidate is asked to take a written test, the nature of which may vary based on the role they have applied for.

It is usually an essay on something related to that role. If the candidate passes that as well, they are called for a first-round interview, which will take place either over the phone or over video conference using Amazon Chime, the company’s video conferencing product. This interview is taken by a peer program manager or a potential manager, and the questions asked are both behavioral and technical in nature. This interview is particularly important as its purpose is to ensure that the candidate meets all the company’s hiring standards and is worth calling on site. If the candidate has made it past this stage, then they are called on-site at Amazon offices and subject to heavy scrutiny in five separate interviews. Since the pandemic, the on-site interviews are being taken via Amazon Chime.

These interviews are taken one-on-one by a series of individuals related to the team that the candidate has applied to join, including peers, the hiring manager, and a senior executive. After the series of on-site interviews, the candidate will be called for one last interview with someone called the ‘Bar Raiser.’ This individual is not a part of the hiring team and is usually very experienced as an interviewer. This interview does not focus on the job but the candidate themselves. The job of the Bar Raiser is to ensure that Amazon’s hiring standards remain high. This individual is also very influential and generally has the last say about whether a candidate may be hired.

Amazon Program Manager Interview Questions

If the candidate makes it through all the stages while giving a favorable impression, they get an offer letter usually within a week. It sounds like a grueling process because it is. Here we have compiled some of the broad possible questions from a behavioral and technical point of view:

  • Tell us about a time when you had to deal with a difficult customer.

Customer obsession is one of the prime leadership principles of Amazon, and the interviewer needs to know that the candidate takes the customer as seriously as they should and understand the impact of every decision they take on the customer. This question may be asked in other ways, such as what makes for a good customer experience and why it is important. The purpose is the same for all these questions. A candidate should start by referring to Amazon’s leadership principles to show that they know what they are talking about and talk on the lines of obsessing over the customers and working their way back up.

  • Tell us about a time when you sacrificed short-term gains for long-term goals.

Ownership, or taking responsibility, is another very important leadership principle. Leaders are supposed to think long-term and put the company’s interests above everything else. A candidate should keep this in mind while answering any question related to ownership. Interviewers like candidates who are capable of stepping up in a challenging situation and take charge.

  • Tell us about a time where you had to take a decision knowing there was considerable risk involved.

Speed matters in business, so leaders are often expected to go ahead with decisions without being fully informed of all the possible angles. Amazon likes risk-takers who prefer action over deliberation. While taking too many risks gives the impression of being whimsical and unreliable, a candidate should be willing to go ahead in risky situations and deliver. Being able to take calculated risks is something the interviewer will appreciate in a candidate.

  • Tell us about a time when you did not agree with a decision that was made and how you reacted to it.

Leaders are expected to stand up for what they believe and respectfully disagree when things don’t go their way, even if that may lead to uncomfortable situations and jeopardize social cohesion. The interviewer wants to see that the candidate has the conviction and tenacity necessary for this part of the job and will defend their position in such a setting. A candidate who can talk about a previous instance where they did something similar will favorably.

  • Tell us about a time where you solved a complex problem for your company.

Amazon values candidates who can think outside the box and come up with creative solutions to complex problems. Leaders expect and require innovation and invention from their teams and always find ways to simplify. They are always looking for new ideas and wanting to do new things, and accept that this may lead to them being misunderstood. A candidate who knows how to implement big ideas in expedient ways will advance to the next level.

  • Tell us about a situation when you had to undertake a detailed analysis of a problem and eventually reach a solution.

From time to time, micromanagement is something all leaders are expected to do, and Amazon expects nothing less from their program managers. They should be able to operate at multiple levels and quickly understand when even the smallest of things don’t seem right. Program managers are supposed to anticipate technical glitches and fix them before they can do any serious harm. The interviewer needs to see that the candidate is willing and capable of doing so.

  • Tell us about a time when you were faced with a problem with multiple possible solutions.

Leaders are expected to have good judgment and have a track record of making the right decision most of the time. Amazon expects its program managers to make quick decisions, sometimes with inadequate data, and develop favorable results.  The candidate ought to demonstrate some skill and experience in this area to impress the interviewer.

  • Tell us about how you function in high-pressure situations.

Leaders are supposed to deliver results even when the going gets tough. Amazon values action over perfection, which means that they like candidates who are not afraid to compromise a little with quality to deliver the product on time. A candidate would do well to emphasize how they hate slipped deadlines and failed goals.

  • Tell us about what you consider to be your most significant accomplishment.

Amazon prides itself in being an organization that thinks big and expects its employees to follow the same rule. A program manager must be able to see the bigger picture and drive their team in a way that aims to fulfill that vision. Articulating and effectively communicating a bold vision to contribute to the company is a plus sign that the interviewer will be looking for.

  • Tell us about your vision of an ideal employee.

A leader should recognize and develop talent and promote it with the ultimate aim of contributing towards company growth. Good leaders produce better leaders. Amazon likes candidates who are not threatened by people smarter than them and are willing to work amiably with them for the company’s benefit. A candidate should mention that they enjoy coaching younger talent, and seeing them getting promoted makes them happy. This is an important aspect of senior positions, such as a program manager.

  • Tell us about a time when you delivered on a project while working on a tight budget.

Improvisation is a skill that all leaders need to have. Being resourceful and able to accomplish more with less is something any candidate looking to bag a position as a program manager at Amazon must-have. The interviewer will appreciate a candidate who shares Amazon’s philosophy of providing customers with as much value for as cost as possible, all the while maintaining a positive drive for innovation.

  • Tell us about a time when you learned from a mistake.

Leaders are always learning and improving themselves. They should be curious about new ideas and possibilities and not be afraid to experiment with newer methods to deliver better results. Ideally, a candidate should be dynamic in their approach to work at Amazon and be willing to swallow their pride and learn from their mistakes. Displaying a constant zeal to improve and develop themselves will definitely put a candidate on the interviewer’s good books.

  • Tell us about how you judge yourself and your work.

Good leaders have very high standards for themselves and those around them, even if others may sometimes deem these standards to be unreasonable. Continuously working to raise the bar and pushing their team to deliver high-quality products and services is something every leader is expected to do. Amazon likes to work with the view that nothing is ever good enough and that there is always room for improvement. Candidates who push for difficult standards are therefore preferred over ones who are easily contented. 

  • Tell us about how you plan to earn your team’s trust and respect?

Leaders are open to feedback, both positive and negative, from all quarters. They should not be embarrassed to be vocally critical about themselves and handle criticism, even when it comes from a junior employee. Doing so helps them stay on the road for improvement and motivates their team to do the same. Amazon wants program managers who focus more on fixing things that go wrong rather than pointing fingers and shifting the blame. Candidates who can demonstrate that they value feedback from their team and are up for coming up with solutions instead of harping on the problem will be considered for hire.


Amazon is very different from other companies, and often a lot of candidates fail to understand whether it is the right sort of organization for them. Before investing any effort in preparing for an interview with Amazon, we recommend that you talk to some current employees at Amazon to get a fair idea of what the work culture is like, and then assess whether it’s the right place for you. Working at Amazon can feel like a tempting proposition, but there is no point in engaging fully in a job that may not be satisfying for you in the long run. Besides that, prepare well by brushing up on the technical aspects of being a program manager and answering all technical questions with the STAR method. If you find that you like the 14 leadership principles at Amazon and more or less agree with its mission and vision statement, we believe you will find your job as a program manager at Amazon quite rewarding.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Do I need to dress formally if the interviews are all held via video conference?

Amazon is a prestigious company, and even if an interview is held over video conference, they will expect candidates to maintain a professional appearance, which is a sign that they take the interview seriously. Any candidate who shows up dressed casually will get a very short interview indeed.

  • How influential are the interviewers regarding the screening process?

No individual interviewer has much of a say in who gets hired. The Bar Raiser usually has the biggest say, but they are not a part of the hiring team. Trying to influence an individual interviewer is practically useless, and we strongly advise against it. 


Amazon Program Manager Interview Questions 2021

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